Brands Beware: Diversity Is The Key To Managing Big-Tech Threats And Changes

Brands Beware: Diversity Is The Key To Managing Big-Tech Threats And Changes
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As the industry prepares for Apple’s highly-anticipated iOS14.5 changes, SAVV Digital’s founder and managing director Rani Arsanios [pictured] shares his advice for navigating the unknown when it comes to tech giants.

The tech giant threats – and short-lived action by Facebook – spooked many businesses. Today’s roll out of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature on iOS14.5 further highlights the need to take stock of your brand’s digital strategy.

The tech-frights should also inspire brands to review how dependant they are on these platforms, which they have no control over, despite how much they spend on them.

Whilst Apple’s move to ask users for explicit permission for mobile apps to track them is perhaps better for user privacy, many mobile apps and advertisers will be significantly impacted. So much so, that companies and startups like Bumble are greatly concerned. This is a great reminder of how one move by a tech giant can impact the success and survival of businesses.

The fundamentals of online marketing and advertising were shaken when Facebook shut down countless media feeds and Google also threatened to withdraw search. The looming Apple changes compounds the urgency to act. These events foretell future online risks and demonstrate that the landscape can change quickly. Businesses need to be prepared for such risks and start mitigating them today.

As the threats were brewing, I amplified my age-old message to clients that they should diversify their marketing efforts and budgets. I know businesses are definitely listening now, and are developing strategies that include alternative marketing channels.

Diversity must be a marketing value

Finding diversity in the face of virtual monopolies is difficult, but not impossible, and we should all be thinking about how we can effectively work with channels that complement big tech. Traditional media is a good place to start, but there are other avenues and rising digital channels too.

Peter Strong, CEO of the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, takes the view that ‘competition is central to a healthy economy and if monopolies face no real competition, they must be well regulated. At the same time, diversification reduces risk, and so it’s never a good idea to become dependent on a single platform, supplier or customer. These things don’t change.’

Moreover, even though we all think that diversity drove the Internet, today, that is no longer the case. Data scientist and author of Online Gravity, Paul X McCarthy, says that contrary to what most people think, long-term research shows the web is becoming less diverse. McCarthy told me, ‘We observed that a smaller number of organisations account for an ever-increasing proportion of total user attention, usually with one large player dominating.’

Invest in building up your own channels

Diversifying in the digital marketing space has always been a topic marketing executives talk about. Yet, for some brands, it was not more than a ‘nice to have’. Today, it’s a must-have. It’s unlikely that the tech giants will pull out of Australia, but the reality is, there are major red flags that should make every business consider their marketing strategy and the short-term and long-term risks of not having a truly diversified marketing approach.

My view is that in the threats we saw a political flashpoint and a compromise was reached. Looking at the changes Apple is making, we will see a lot of iPhone users elect to opt out of tracking – with some estimates going as high as 70 per cent. Perhaps the opt-out rates will not get that high, but targeted advertising is going to become more difficult.

Regardless, we should all be seeing these changes as an opportunity to invest in new channels and marketing capabilities. The goal must be to develop stronger value proposition, more points of differentiation, and more sustainable customer acquisition strategies.

If 80 per cent of your business is coming from one online source, an alarm should be ringing. The risk can come from anywhere, especially competitors. Your goal is to have a diversified portfolio that brings maximum returns.

There’s never been a more complex digital landscape. The opportunities and potential are beyond what most marketers think. So, next, focus on customer retention and customer lifetime value. A dollar spent on a happy, returning customer will almost always bring more money than a dollar on a prospect that knows nothing about you.

To me, it is a time to be even more creative. Innovation often arises in the face of adversity. Experiment with new tactics, including collaborations with traditional news sites and other non-competing businesses, in ways that benefit both parties.

Finally, invest in ‘virality’. Granted, it takes time and typically requires trial and error but when it does work, you hit the jackpot. Rather than investing all your marketing dollars in ads, allocate more funds to creative content that can go viral and catapult your brand forward.

At the very least, look at your marketing strategy as a forever evolving journey that needs you to be proactive and vigilant at all times.

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