At the end of the month, Trueffect will once again welcome executives from a range of industries to our 2nd Annual Executive Partner Summit which will take place from April 30th – May 2nd. We’re already looking forward to two days of networking, knowledge sharing, and fun in beautiful Boulder, CO. As part of our ramp up to the event, we’ve asked some of our speakers to sit down with us for a short Q&A where they’ll be covering off on all things digital media.
First up, a man known for his vision, Gunther Sonnenfeld. He currently acts a partner at K5 Ventures, acting CIO (Chief Information Officer) and lead advisor at Faveeo, and is the co-founder of Paperlet, among many other roles. We spoke to Gunther via email and he shared his thoughts on the future of the industry and how brands must adapt.
- Let’s start with a bit of history. In three sentences, who is Gunther Sonnenfeld?
I'm a guy who never could manage the status quo and gave up on it a long time ago. I'm a multi-disciplinarian and a polymath -- I say that with confidence and humility. My larger goal in life is to help democratize information systems.
- Obviously, in the course of your career, you’ve seen a lot of success and innovation. In fact, you’ve been a critical driver of both in your various roles. What would your learnings be on what makes for a successful brand initiative?
We're at a point in history -- an interesting shift in post-industrialism and modernism -- whereby sustainable brands are representative of open, authentic and empathic businesses. You can't market yourself these days any other way and expect to get away with it. Therefore, initiatives must reflect that earnestness, whether they are fictional, non-fictional, comedic or dramatic. You could consider this the golden age of storytelling. But for advertising to seize this shift, it must reinvent itself creatively and as a service industry.
- On the Internet, change comes rapidly and continually. Where do you see the digital marketing space heading in the next year?
This is a loaded question; in short, I see digital marketing becoming far more participatory and immersive.
Social media, content marketing and omnichannel optimization are just buzz phrases to describe a need to involve people (consumers) more meaningfully in the way we develop products and services, as well as in how we build markets. Marketing, specifically, is about actually building markets, rather than capturing marketshare through manipulative messaging and the like. If we can measure everything, we have no excuse not to protect people's data and identities, as well as cut down on all the signal noise we're throwing at them. It's time to be a lot smarter and a lot more mindful.
In this way, I see digital marketing -- via publishing, journalism and data science -- becoming more of a profit center inside of progressive organizations, rather than a cost center.
- The battle recently for digital advertising has focused a great deal around cookies and how to make them work in spite of everything. Are third-party cookies worth saving? If not, what should marketers do to prepare for their demise?
Third-party cookies are a waste of time and tied to a seriously outmoded system of tagging and measurement. Brands should just work on developing the integrity of their own converged media ecosystems and focus on building real relationships with people without stealing their information and selling it off. This is and always has been a travesty. The brands who recognize this and do something about it for the longer term will succeed longer term. It's that simple.
- What are brands doing wrong?
A brand often assumes its positioning is more important than its customers. Most people don't really care about brands -- they care about the things that affect them in their daily lives and rituals. If brands can fit into these routines, great. But brands can no longer assume that they are important "just because." The world has changed and we no longer have an endless supply of human and natural resources. The same goes for messaging and content. In order for brands to be relevant in the world, they must improve the world.
For a recap of Gunther’s full keynote session as well as a download of all of our Summit content, visit us right here where we’ll be sharing highlights post event.
You can follow Gunther on Twitter @goonth and read more from him at https://designingliteracy.squarespace.com/