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The new digital environment is bringing about a “renaissance” for marketing, which can be defined as “meeting customer requirements,” notes Digitas and Razorfish Chairman Rishad Tobaccowala, who was interviewed at ShopLocal’s 8th Annual Retail Forum this week in Chicago by AdAge’s Maureen Morrison.

Tobaccowala says that the obvious parts of the new digital environment for marketing are the focus on local, social, interchange markets and data. “Digital gives us new ways to tell stories,” he notes. But the connected network and the empowerment of the customer are less obvious.

“Everyone talks about the empowered customer. Many clients say they empower customers as part of their vision,” says Tobaccowala. But unless you are household names like Apple or Samsung, “that’s actually not true. Most struggle to empower customers.”

With opt outs just a click away, that represents a real threat. “The reality – as even Apple is finding out – is you can’t keep people hostage.”

The marketing funnel itself is under attack, adds Tobaccowala. “There is no zero end game” anymore. “You can go from not knowing about a product to being an advocate for a product in about four minutes.” And that leads to marketing and commerce “becoming basically the same thing.” Winners in the new environment will focus on adapting to the newest media channels – which can all be classified as different screens of glass – and adapting to “a more kinetic, fast moving environment.

“It isn’t real time, it is faster time,” he says.

Tobaccowala also suggests that Facebook should have a “dislike” button. “It is much better for marketers. You learn much better when people say they dislike you.” But in a Google-led era, is there an ongoing role for media (and agencies)? Yes there is. Publishers and other media companies are about seduction, he says. Google is all about sex.

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