Digital marketers be afraid. Very afraid. The biggest Internet company on the planet has informed the world that the Internet is about to disappear.
Addressing world leaders at the 2015 Davos World Economic Forum in Switzerland, Google chairman Eric Schmidt stunned his audience by declaring “The Internet will Disappear”.
Of course, Schmidt went on to elaborate. It’s not that the Internet will cease to exist. Quite the contrary. It’s just that the Internet will disappear as a distinct and distinctive thing. When the Internet is everywhere, and increasingly in everything, it ceases to be a ‘thing’ and becomes just part of things.
So Google’s point is that as the Internet becomes invisibly and wirelessly woven into our products, our experiences and our lives, we cease to see it. It ‘disappears’. What’s more, this disappearing act is accelerating as a new generation of ubiquitous sensors sense the Internet for us, so we don’t have to. Like air, the Internet is now everywhere, invisible, but essential.
Phew. So digital marketers can relax. The Internet is not dead, it’s just different. But we’ll still all have our jobs and it’ll be business as usual selling our Internet-based services, right? Wrong.
Digital Marketing. RIP
If Schmidt is right and the Internet is set to disappear as a ‘thing’, then the days of the digital marketer and digital marketing are numbered. Why? Because digital is everywhere and digital connectivity is being baked into all marketing. Whatever you do in marketing today, you use digital technology. This makes calling yourself a digital marketer as anachronistic as calling your camera a digital camera. Of course it, and you, are digital (with a few retro-chic exceptions). In Schmidt’s world, we’re not digital marketers, we’re just marketers.
The same goes for ‘digital strategy’. From this Google perspective, having a digital strategy is like saying you have a ‘paper’ strategy. Digital isn’t something for which you need a strategy; it’s something you use in your strategy. If you think you need a digital strategy, then you really don’t understand digital.
This is about more than semantics; it’s about what we do. As marketers working in digital, Schmidt’s comments are our wakeup call to get over our love affair with the Internet, and get on with the substantive areas of marketing. Advertising, branding, PR, sponsorship: All use digital connectivity, but none are about digital connectivity. The world is connected. Whatever. Use it, but get over it. The Internet is no longer a ‘thing’. And we’re no longer digital marketers, we’re marketers.
The Internet? We’re so over it.