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DigitasLBi-LogoThis week, our MSc Digital Marketing students were treated to a glimpse into the Future of Marketing at DigitasLBi's Edinburgh office.

DigitasLBi, one of the key partners in the first year of our Masters, have been supportive right from the start. The agency is actively engaged in enhancing and promoting the role of digital in Scotland (I attended their excellent hosted BIMA Edinburgh Breakfast Briefing back in September), and shares our commitment to the digital skills agenda. We want to create a talent pool of digital marketing experts with the right practical and soft skills to hit the ground running!

Our collaboration on the MSc Digital Marketing involves a Mentorship programme, which pairs up students with mentors working at DigitasLBi Edinburgh. Mentors have been providing support and guidance to the students via remote sessions using Skype for the last 3 months -  and this week they finally got to meet them for real!

When we arrived, we were welcomed by a coffee and a quick 'mingle with the mentors', following by a tour of DigitasLBi's cool Edinburgh offices. We then sat down and listened to their Media Innovations Director, Andrew Girdwood's guest lecture on The Future of Marketing.

Andrew's opener challenged the concept of 'The Future'. In marketing,  he argues, 'The future is next week'. So, when we think the future of marketing we need to think very soon - next week, or even tomorrow. 'Agile' is the key term here, and agile thinking needs to be part of our DNA.

Three points in his subsequent talk stood out for me, and resonated with the audience.

1. Owned paid earned media

Andrew made us question the distinction of owned vs. earned vs. paid media. He argued that brands didn't actually own their Facebook pages - their customers did, and Facebook own the customers (their data). In fact, brands may not even own themselves any more.
Who owns your brandIn the age of the customer, you are who your customers say your are (not who you say you are).

Andrew also took the mantra 'Brands are Publishers' to its logical conclusion - 'Customers are Publishers' (ever tweeted? You're a publisher!).  I agree there is a significant merging of all functions and roles (random fact: I researched the 'prosumer' - the digital consumer who is also a producer - for my PhD thesis 7 years ago - the term 'social media' didn't exist back then).

Nowadays, consumers are publishers are advertisers are producers...  for example, some Instagram users are consumer-publishers, getting paid a dollar each like, YouTube stars sell 'native' advertising without disclosing it, and the average Joe or Jane can no longer tell the difference between organic media / news and its paid equivalent (i.e. advertising masking as fact).

I think it's still important to keep owned, paid and earned media as separate concepts, if only for practical reasons such as allocating marketing budgets. In addition, what hasn't changed is that fundamentally modern marketing is about attracting customers to your website or store, and buy from you (or whatever 'buy' means for your business). Repeatedly.

2. Privacy

We had a lively discussion with some questions around privacy. Everyone agreed that privacy would be an important issue for digital marketing in 2015, and when Andrew asked who of us had concerns about their online privacy, probably two thirds raised their hands.

I also shared my story of zooming out of Streetview recently and discovering that Germany is one of the last beacons of non-surveillance in Europe.

Google streetview germany


What I'm not so sure about is how important privacy issues are for 'digital natives' (born 2000 onwards). The generation arguably never had any privacy to begin with, so this may not be something they value or care about.

I'll ask my future students of the MSc Digital Marketing (2020 applicants and beyond) i.e. the digital natives, themselves. I'll report my findings then..

3. Retargeting ads destroy Christmas

christmas cat meme Andrew related a funny observation that stuck with me - this Christmas, many kids will already know their presents because they are being retargeted by display ads for products that their parents have already purchased for them 😀  - retargeting setup #FAIL (But are kids smart enough to understand this? I bet they are).

My guess is that this isn't just the case for parents and kids though - I'd be interested in finding out how many  Christmas present surprises retargeting is ruining this year - and it's the same for search too 😛 .

Top tip: Don't share a browser with your loved one in the run up to Christmas (or at any time, really!) as otherwise you'll probably know half of the presents you're getting each other.

Final Words

All in all, The Future of Marketing @DigitasLBi was a great success. Andrew's guest lecture taught each of us something new, and the subsequent dinner with the mentors rounded off a productive and valuable day out for everyone involved.

And here are some student comments:

DigitasLBi session tweets

Importantly, the agency visit has also deepened the desire of some of the students to work agency-side when they graduate next year (yay!).

What to get my cat for its Christmas? A very important question that millions of cat lovers are asking themselves as the festive season is drawing closer.  It's such an important query that Google returns over 62m results!
christmas presents for cats query

With so many results to choose from, it's quite a challenge for the busy cat lover to find the right Christmas gift for cats.

To make it easier easier, I have done a bit of research myself and have identified what I believe is THE perfect present.

Since I made my purchase as a direct result from seeing (user-generated) product demonstrations on YouTube, the main focus of this post are the videos - they were very effective 🙂

The best Christmas present for cats

First things first: the perfect Christmas present isn't actually made for cats, i.e. cats aren't its intended audience. What it is is a moneybox for humans - i.e. a 'cat bank' -  a toy that makes saving money easy and fun.

You can find out more specific product info via the direct link in the amazon ad (buy it via the link if you're interested in getting this gift for your cat - it's actually not easy to find it anywhere else as it's quite niche! It costs under £15 at the time of writing).

In the remainder of the post, I'll just give you product demonstrations via the videos on YouTube. As I said in the introduction, these were what made me buy it - in fact made me buy two - both for my own cat, and for a friend (to whom last year I gifted the Grumpy cat wall calendar, which incidentally is also a great gift for the discerning cat lover).

But back to what to get your cat for its Christmas. First of all, let's look at a product demonstration.

The actual money box functionality

This is what it's supposed to be used for.

Money box as cat toy

What follows is what cat lovers have turned it into - a cat toy!

Exhibit A: Used by a happy curious cat

My first exposure to the toy via - yes - YouTube. Actually someone pointed it out to me as they know I have a soft spot for cat videos. I didn't actually google Christmas presents for cats - mainly because I hadn't gotten around yet to thinking about Christmas gifts!

Exhibit B: Used by an assertive bossy cat

This is one I discovered at a later stage, when looking for more product demonstrations. I'm including it here as it's a bit of a contrast to the other one. Also, I'm wondering which of these behaviours is my cat going to exhibit (if ANY! My cat being quite a silly billy and loses interest in things after 1 minute, doesn't like catnip, or any other things normal cats might like.).

Will this gift be any good for my cat this Christmas?

I don't know if it'll work for my cat, but I'm going to get it to do some UX testing this weekend. As I mentioned earlier, I bought 2 of this cat toy / money box via Amazon (one to give away) and it actually has arrived already. Great news as it means I can do a test run with the cat in the next few days and depending on the outcome of the UX test, I'll see whether or not the second one will make a good Xmas present for my friend's cats.

Even if my dopey cat doesn't respond, I think it'll still make a great novelty item and fun money box for all those coins and small change!

I'm pleased to announce I will be running a tourism marketing workshop titled 'Marketing For Small Businesses' in Aberdeen on 26th March 2014.

Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under CC -

It's part of the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Conference and their theme this year is Improving the Customer Journey. This is very much aligned with my own conviction for customer experience being at the heart of modern marketing and indeed the key to modern business success.

And as a small business, it's more important than ever to own your marketing and understand your customer, so that you can exceed their expectations and, as marketing has it, satisfy their needs and wants.

I will aim to focus the workshop on practical, actionable tips and yes, a fair amount of it will focus on the opportunities of digital marketing, including Google Analytics, local SEO, and mobile.

After all, that's my area of expertise, and it aligns nicely with Robert Gordon University's practice-based Digital Marketing Masters on which I'll be teaching from September 2014.

On a personal note, I'm very happy to be involved with tourism marketing again, having previously worked as VisitScotland's Social Media Manager for 2 years, and having done plenty of digital tourism marketing for my friends who own a holiday let in Italy.

To find out more and register, please visit the Aberdeen City and Shire Tourism Conference event page.

Simone KurtzkeI'm PLEASED to announce that our new MSc Digital Marketing is now open for applications!

Digital Marketing is one of THE growth areas - 55% of marketers increased their digital marketing budget this year (2013), and will continue to do so in 2014.

And as I blogged a couple of weeks ago - Social Media Manager jobs are everywhere, and the same is true for the digital industry as a whole.

Our new Digital Marketing course at RGU Aberdeen will help you start a career in this exciting industry! It's practice-based and focused on doing Digital Marketing, with live projects and consultancy - all underpinned by Digital Marketing Strategy.

The MSc Digital Marketing starts in September 2014.






I'm never really sure where to draw the line between sexy ads and sexist ads.

Sexy ads
Sexy or sexist?

In recent weeks, there have been a couple of commercials that have attracted complaints to the ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) for being sexist ads.

One of them, IRN Bru's 'Milf' ad, had over 170 complaints while the other one, Renault's Va Va Voom ad, apparently attracted only one!

One of these ads was banned and one was not. Can you guess which? Here's a hint: The commercial in question "invites viewers to view women as sexual objects".


 IRN-BRU, Mum (2013)

Renault Clio, Extra VA VA VOOM (2013)

(And if you don't know which of the above was banned - yes, I realise it shows in the YouTube title... - here's an article with IRN-BRU's Milf ad verdict, and this one will tell you whether or not Clio's Va Va Voom is the banned one 🙂 )

Bonus: Kylie's Agent Provocateur video (2001)

Some of you may remember Kylie's Agent Provocateur video, banned in 2001 from being shown on television. It was nevertheless shown in cinemas, even winning a prize for best cinema commercial in 2009. Lots of men voting, methinks 🙂


'Tweet' has been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. The word was introduced as part of the June update.

Twitter logo

And by 'tweet' I mean in the sense of Twitter - a private company, not as in 'bird' 🙂

Curious to see that 'to facebook' (Verb) hasn't made it in there yet, when 'to google' (Verb) got into the OED in June 2006!

Steven Poole on The Guardian is waiting with bated breath for other interweb favourites to be added such as:

facepalm, roflcopter, and kitteh (the adorably cute deliberate misspelling of "kitten")... it will be epic – which the OED now allows to mean "Particularly impressive or remarkable; excellent, outstanding, 'awesome'" (you have to love those fastidious scare quotes around the last word).

I'd like to request another one: Meh, which Wikipedia defines as:

... an interjection, often used as an expression of indifference or boredom. It can also be used as a verb (rendering something uninteresting, boring or useless to the beholder) and an adjective (meaning mediocre, boring, or apathetic).

Let's hope that many more beautiful words from the magical world of social media will follow 'to google' and 'to tweet' and be added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

I just wonder if they can REMOVE them again afterwards, once they go out of fashion 😀




The Sally Bercow Twitter case came to a conclusion this month.

Her tweet, which was found libelous by the High Court of Justice was:

Why is Lord McAlpine trending? *Innocent face*

Twitter logoFollowing her tweet, the peer Lord McAlpine had sued her arguing it had implicated him in child abuse.

What does this mean?

It shows you can no longer ignore what your people (i.e. your staff) say on social media.

As a result of the Sally Bercow Twitter scandal, a council in Buckinghamshire proudly announced this week that it was drawing up a social media policy to avoid any communication mishaps and potential pitfalls!

I think that's a great idea - in fact a social media policy should be standard requirement for all organisations and companies - think of it as an IT policy for communications.

You really need to guard your organisation. For more on the legal aspects of the Sally Bercow Twitter case, check out this article on Marketing Week.