This is the traditional marketing model we all learned in university. But we really need to consider if this model remains appropriate for the digital age.
My instinct is that we need to adapt this traditional model to incorporate new media channels and collaborative communications rather than abandon it. But many people seem to be saying we are moving into an entirely new paradigm.
[RANT: I remain sceptical about the utility of notions such as paradigms & paradigm shifts in general, and also in particular in relation to completely unscientific domains such as marketing*. And I remain sceptical of their utility as an explanatory construct for most things. In fact, the word paradigm when used by anyone except philosophers of science (like Thomas Kuhn, Karl Popper, Imre Lakatos or Paul Feyerabend) & in relation to the philosophy of science makes me feel queasy. But that could just be my early liberal arts education coming through (three years of studying philosophy must have some impact!). /RANT]
But putting on a business hat it is clear that we need to find effective ways to allocate scarce resources to enable our brands and products to be known in the marketplace. Further, business experience has shown that structured approaches to expenditure tend to be more sustainable in the long term.
Thus, even in the digital age, businesses need a structured way to plan, coordinate and allocate marketing resources to deliver business value.
For this reason it is unclear why digital and online is not simply considered another medium or channel that is sufficiently encompassed by a traditional marketing model. The situation regarding digital and online marketing is analogous to that of television when it was introduced. In the early days of TV people did not yet understand the medium and how to communicate using it (like in the 1950s ad below). But only a few years later they had mastered the medium and were delivering messages effectively.
The real difference with this new medium is to understand how it needs to be used from an audience perspective. Especially since now that the audience is no longer a passive consumer, but is becoming an active participant.
Another key area that we need to understand better is metrics for digital and online. In the same way that TV required new ways of measuring value, digital and online marketing must be able to demonstrate ROI.
* BTW anyone out there who thinks marketing is scientific needs to read What Is This Thing Called Science: An Assessment of the Nature and Status of Science and Its Methods