No digital marketing, please; just marketing, says @markritson

I still remember my marketing classes with Professor Mark Ritson, during my MBA programme at London Business School. They were very entertaining, but also very challenging. Mark Ritson was not afraid to question well accepted beliefs, or dispel marketing myths, in very direct (and, often, colourful) terms. So, when I found Mark Ritson on Twitter (@markritson), I started following him… and I haven’t been disappointed.


Recently, Mark Ritson posted a link to a talk he did at the 2015 Media Forum, which took place in Canada. True to form, in this talk, Mark Ritson argues for the end of digital marketing and of digital marketers.


His message is two fold.


First, consumers think in terms of content and experience, not media. The term digital marketing focuses on media, which is detrimental to effective marketing communications. To support this, Mark quotes senior vice president of strategy and innovation at Havas media, Tom Goodwin:

There is not a more meaningless divide and obsession than the notion of digital media. Media channels were once clearly distinguished and named from the physical devices that we used to consume them. Radio ads played on radios and were audio, TV ads played on TV’s and were moving images, newspaper ads were images in the paper while outdoor ads were images around us.

In 2014 the naming legacy is both misleading and of no value. I listen to the radio on my phone, read the newspapers on a laptop, watch YouTube on my TV, and read magazines on my iPad. Our old media channels mean nothing. Yet their names survive and mislead us into artificially limited thinking. We focus endlessly on battles of no meaning like on whether digital us eating TV, rather than unleashing our minds on the new possibilities and how best to buy media and supply messages in the digital age.


Second, consumers alternate between media, often using more than one medium simultaneously. Marketing communications need to work within this integrated reality, not a silo approach. Here, Mark quotes CEO of Diageo, Ivan Menezes, saying:

It is not about doing ‘digital marketing’. It is about marketing effectively in a digital world.


Because of these facts, Mark argues, it does not make sense to think of digital marketing in isolation of other marketing initiatives. Further, he argues that it does not make sense to have separate budgets, or separate marketing teams, for digital marketing vs. ‘traditional’ marketing. He says: ‘There is no marketing that isn’t digital (…) We need marketers that know digital. Just take the prefix out of your title and look at your world in a media neutral way.’


You can watch the whole talk below (and the part relating to this blog post from around minute 40 onwards). It has some colourful language (watching this talk was like travelling 16 years back in time!) – so, if you are in a public space you may want to put your headphones on 😉



This was a very relevant message for me, personally, as I am preparing to teach a module called ‘Digital Marketing Communications’.


Does Mark’s message of not considering digital as a separate activity resonate with you?


One thought on “No digital marketing, please; just marketing, says @markritson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s