Moving to maturity – The Goldilocks approach to digital marketing…

This is a version of a presentation I gave at DMX Dublin 2017 on 8th March in the Aviva Stadium, in which I implore the marketing industry to take the ‘Goldilocks approach to digital marketing’ and strive towards maturity.

The crux of the argument is that it’s critically important that we as a broader industry are introspective, and we take a good hard look at ourselves in order to push things forward and move onto the next level. Digital is currently in its awkward teenage stage, unsure of the future, generally unsophisticated and to push on we need to be less biased, less sure that digital is a silver bullet, and to really question the things we think are correct. 

As an industry we’ve become biased, overzealous and foolish. We’ve grown smug, we think we’ve found the answers. But as the great psychologist Daniel Kahneman said: Humans have an almost unlimited ability to become blind to our own biases and ignorance’.

We need more understanding that there’s a lot we don’t know, and that a lot of what we think we do know is distorted and wrong.

We need is more critical thinking, to be less accepting and more skeptical about some of the stuff we’re told about digital.

We need less unnecessary complexity. The sheer amount of disconnected metrics, tools and competing voices out there is too much. We need to pull things back and think strategically rather than tactically.

And we also need an acceptance that some of this will work, but some of it will fail miserably, but that’s ok. Let’s not be overzealous and afraid to be wrong, let’s share our failings and learn from them.

The Goldilocks approach to digital marketing is a theory that attempts to find a middle ground in the extremely polarising arguments that hamper the industry, to find a way through the bias and overconfidence.

Within the presentation, I give 5 examples of how the Goldilocks approach applies, and finish with a call to ‘make digital redundant’.

To proclaim that you have a ‘digital’ strategy these days is becoming outdated. It’s like saying you have an ‘electricity’ strategy. Everything is digital now anyway.

We need to bake digital into everything that we do, but also not be biased towards it. To understand it in the broader context, rather than being focused on its minutia.

In this new age of maturity that we’re hopefully entering, It’s not so much about mastering a completely new art of digital marketing, as it is about mastering traditional effective marketing and advertising in a digital world. 

If we’re to really mature, we need to realise that digital marketing isn’t a separate thing, it’s just marketing. 

For links to data and other sources, see below. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to get in touch via @shaneoleary1 or



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