Businesses that ignore the explosion of digital media do so at their peril.
During a one-day Caribbean Digital And New Media Conference, hosted by Global Expert Systems (GES), the importance of enterprises following their customers online was stressed.
Leading off the stimulating discussion was Kaymar Jordan, CEO and Editor-In-Chief of Barbados TODAY, who reported there had been a positive shift, particularly over the past two years, in terms of the response by advertisers to the six-year-old online media company. This shift, Jordan said, had been driven by customers.
She pointed out that there were currently 85,000 smartphones in Barbados, 150,000 Facebook accounts and 217,000 Internet users.
“That’s 75 per cent of the population representing both the young and old demographic, and one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the world, according to the International Telecommunications Union,” the Editor-In-Chief told the large gathering of mainly marketing and ICT professionals.
Speaking on the theme Disruptive Technologies And Their Impact On Journalism, Marketing And Advertising: The Barbados Today Model, Jordan acknowledged that “disruptive technologies”, such as those in use by her online business, were displacing the established ones. And, she highlighted last week’s announcement by The Independent of Britain that it was shutting down its printing press, ending its print newspaper operation after three decades.
The move by the British newspaper to produce an online edition only will make about 75 journalists redundant. However, The Independent said it would ensure a “sustainable and profitable future for the company which has been struggling with heavy losses for years”.
Added Jordan: “As owner of The Independent, Evgeny Lebedev, explained, the newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers . . . most of whom can now be found accessing their news on their mobile phones, on Facebook and generally online.”
In her keynote address, she also appealed to Government to make the “urgent shift” that would make Barbados a fully free Wi-Fi zone, while strongly urging businesses to put themselves in a position where their customers can find them and actually trade with them online.
“We also need teach our children how to put the technology to best use for personal and professional advancement, be it educational research, seeking out opportunities for jobs, or stimulating innovation and creating new applications to solve our everyday problems,” Jordan said.
In his presentation, Eddy Ventose, professor of law at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, spoke to issues of intellectual property protection and copyright, as well as the registration of trademarks and domain names, and the use of images on digital platforms.
Crowdsourcing –– a collaborative and transparent means of raising funds online, perceived as the newest trend in finance –– was covered by dancer and cultural activist Dr John Hunte. The former cultural officer at the National Cultural Foundation discussed the experience he had gained with fellow artiste and leader for the Barbados Dance Project, Jamal Callender.
In the post-lunch session entitled Search Engine Marketing And Google Display Advertising: Website Promotion, Visibility And Awareness, Nikita Lashley and Tricia Cozier, digital fulfilment specialists at Global Directories Ltd, teamed up to advise on meaningfully engaging with an increasingly mobile and web-savvy customer base and the role of Internet giant Google’s Adwords.
Lashley and Cozier explained the importance of building responsive websites that worked on all devices, while agreeing with Barbados TODAY’S CEO on the need for companies to adjust marketing spend on the more flexible option of digital advertising, which offered both immediate and accurate measurement of impact.
The session concluded with a full breakdown of geolocation marketing by conference host Ian Walcott-Skinner, partner consultant of Global Expert Systems.
“Proximity marketing is growing leaps and bounds in Barbados and more companies need to get listed,” Walcott-Skinner remarked.