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Q&A: Kevin Drew Davis, ECD, Digitas Chicago & San Francisco

Kevin Drew Davis, executive creative director at Digitas Chicago and San Francisco, on top digital trends and why traditional media’s not fading:

Q: What are the top three digital trends marketers can’t afford to ignore in 2013?

A: Everyone is talking about the convenience and speed of mobile payments, but what’s really interesting is what it can do for the consumer’s brand experience. Second, we’re going to see more brands leveraging the concept of a brand idea. Brands can get trapped in a product bubble, but it should really [be] about the bigger idea of who they are. Third is taking marketing and making it into a collective experience. Look at Glee. Watching the show is one thing, but then there’s the hashtag and the collective experience going on.

Q: What can brands do to strike a balance between automated marketing practices and more personal outreach?

A: Our strategy and analytics guy in Chicago doesn’t just show me a spreadsheet with numbers. He digs through the numbers to find human insights to tell me a story. When we get those human insights, it allows us to see consumers as people versus just segmenting an audience. The big trick is how to marry data and insights so that they lead to something creative a consumer can relate to. It’s not an easy balance.

Q: Is there still a place at the table for traditional media?

A: It still has a great deal of efficiency and mass reach, and it will continue to have it for the foreseeable future. It’s still an efficient way to reach a lot of people at once. The trick is not thinking about it as a standalone thing. We all used to do that a lot. Mass media is like a trailer for the bigger brand experience.

Q: What app or bit of marketing technology is blowing your mind lately?

A: As a creative director, I’m going to change the brief on this question. There have been so many mind-blowing things recently we’ve become kind of jaded by new technology now. What’s more interesting is how humans have adapted to the things they’re carrying around. We’ve all seen it: People walking down the street with their heads down looking at phones. It blows your mind when you think about how much we’ve changed in the past five years in our behaviors and our movements.

Q: Has the social media bubble already popped, and if not, do you think that it’s on its way?

A: There’s not going to be this big collapse because being social is a fundamental part of what it means to be human. People say, ‘But Myspace ended, now there’s Facebook.’ Humans are social whether or not the tools of today will be around later.

Q: Would you still describe yourself as “that weird digital guy?”

A: I was a digital guy who grew up in traditional agencies for, good Lord, almost 20 years. But today there’s not the resistance to digital there was a decade ago; it’s fully accepted and embraced. Now I’m hiring these kids out of school who get digital instinctively. They’ve had the Internet their entire lives. I’m not a weird person out of place anymore.

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