Paul Skinner: Damian, for the benefit of any of our readers who don’t know you yet, you have been working at the forefront of the media industry for 27 years, founding the first ever digital agency in the UK and Ireland and then moving into corporate finance as a digital media specialist. You co-wrote the books “Understanding Digital Marketing” and “The Best Digital Marketing Campaigns in the World: Mastering the Art of Public Engagement” and are a founding partner of Mediaventura.
So to begin, Damian, what would you say have been the key changes in digital marketing since you founded the first digital agency in the UK?
Damian Ryan: Firstly I should confirm that I have no idea if ours was the first digital agency in the UK market, but it was certainly the first to be based in Ireland where our first series of campaigns were for UK and American clients. Thought I better state that before I get a barrage of emails from other “net vets”!
I feel the first ten years of digital marketing were symbolized by the replication of traditional marketing models on new media. Classifieds became banners, directories became search and direct mail became email. Now it’s swung right around to a growing focus on “engagement” and I see marketers now treating people like, well, people!!
The lessons learned by digital marketers are now starting to be seen on traditional media – the poacher has turned gamekeeper. That’s been the key change.
Yes it’s been a fascinating transition whereby a technology - the internet - has actually allowed us to be far more human in the way we interact.
What led you to write your book on the Best Campaigns in the world?
Feedback from readers who wanted to see more case studies – it was as simple as that really.
There wasn't that much writing involved – we (Calvin Jones and I) had the benefit of a researcher based in Amsterdam (Eva McLaughlin) who helped us gather the material and we put it together from there. We hope it will form the beginning of a discussion and a true engagement among digital marketers who can really decide for themselves what represents “the best” – all we’ve done is kick off the chatter!
And if you had to pick one campaign from the book as your own personal favourite, which would it be, and what lessons could a charity or social venture draw from that campaign?
The Queensland Tourist Board’s “Best Job in the world” campaign was my favourite. It showed an extraordinary level of bravery to shoot for the stars! There’s your lesson right there – be brave!!!
Yes that was a marvelously creative promotion and probably the best tourism campaign of any type in history. People can see a link to the campaign creative here.
One of the points of real interest for me reading your book on the best campaigns in the world was that while some of the campaigns featured have several hundred thousand dollar budgets, some of them needed very little investment, and one of them, the campaign to make Rage Against The Machine the Christmas Number one, had no budget at all. At Pimp My Cause we believe digital marketing is a real opportunity for causes that may have little money to spend but a really interesting story to tell – what advice would you give to groups who need to get a lot of impact from digital without spending much money?
Appeal to people’s sense of goodwill and generosity. The great promise of the Internet is spookily similar to that of the telegraph 130 years ago – some felt that if the world could get on the same page then it would promote the concept of a harmonious society. Hmm, that didn't really work did it!?
However the Internet has provided society with the ideal platform to save lives, do good and bring like minded people together in an instant and engaging way – I would add that most of the guys who work in digital marketing are very quick to get involved and help out in projects especially if it connects them with like minded people around the world. Ask them and you’ll find out!
We are hoping to launch something ourselves in the near future, we are currently in discussions with some of the larger Internet companies and colleges so watch this space!!
Sounds like you have an intriguing new initiative on the way and we’ll look forward to hearing more about it in due course. In the meantime, which causes would you like to pick to advise from among our members and what would you suggest they do to improve their digital marketing?
European Disaster Volunteers (EDV). I suggest they recruit a panel from the local digital media market. Leaders from the agencies and suppliers – challenge them to raise the bar. If they do this I will give a free copy of the book to the first ten who join this panel.
Great stuff – we’ll definitely advise our marketers to step up to that plate!
Before you go, could you tell us about your latest venture Mediaventura and the activities you get involved with there?
It’s only been a year since we established the business and it has been a great success. We are now working with some of the smartest people in the business and on some really cool assignments. We are now realizing that people hire us because we have a unique entrepreneurial spirit and are very focused on working hard, being transparent and demonstrating that corporate finance is not the complicated and intimidating business it used to be. Our main activities are devising investment strategies for digital media brands but also raising that investment and realizing value and ROI for shareholders. Nothing gives us more of a thrill than seeing the results of our work – it can be life changing at times but it’s certainly high octane, emotional and extremely good fun too! I’m a very lucky man. I am doing the job I always wanted to do with people that inspire me.
Damian, many thanks for this, and thanks also for agreeing to become our Ambassador of Digital Marketing. We’ll look forward to some great collaboration ahead!