NEW YORK: Brand owners must face up to the "daunting task" of creating marketing systems reflecting the demands of the digital age, according to a new study.

As consumers gravitate towards social networks, search engines, blogs and the mobile web, advertisers are "abandoning traditional media at a shocking rate," the Booz & Co report suggested.

Such a trend has been demonstrated by the comparative resilience of online - and to a lesser extent mobile - adspend during the recession.

This is partly because both channels allow for precise targeting at low cost.

"The many virtues of digital marketing - its speed, flexibility, interactivity, and accountability - require a whole new set of marketing strategies and skills to make it work," Booz said.

"In a Web 2.0 world, however, taking part in that market isn't simply a matter of throwing some banner ads against a few likely websites and seeing what sticks."

Any adequate response to the evolving preferences of shoppers should be premised on exploiting the vast amount of data now available, the Booz report added.

"It demands a close collaboration between CMOs and CIOs to build technology to automate new marketing processes and provide real-time decision support."

Firstly, this encompasses establishing methods to track the behaviour of consumers, including their communications and media usage habits.

Delivering programmes enabling executives to "target customers 24/7 via the right channel, at the right time, and with the right message" is also assuming centre stage.

More broadly, corporate leadership, skill sets and incentives ought to be "geared towards the digital world" rather than reinforcing outdated models.

Achieving this goal ultimately means brand managers need to gain a "single view" of shoppers drawing on the mass of facts and figures hosted online and offline.

"They must use that information to make specific offers to individual customers based on their value to the company - both in the past and in the future," Booz said.

"They must build a marketing platform that can help automate the process of publishing a consistent set of marketing messages and content … from classic TV spot to Facebook app to YouTube video to Google AdWords to blog entry."

Given the complexity of handling these tasks, and the challenges of coordinating technology vendors, advertising agencies, media owners and publishers, a novel solution may be necessary.

As such, advertisers should establish a dedicated digital unit to act as an intermediary between management, IT and marketing departments, as well as running campaigns and dealing with corporate partners.

Google has recently released details about its real-time search engine, which trawls the web to provide all the latest results, and can be refined by location.

"We've added a conversations view, making it easy to follow a discussion on the real-time web," said Dylan Casey, a product manager at Google.

"Often a single tweet sparks a larger conversation of re-tweets and other replies … With the new 'full conversation' feature, you can browse the entire conversation in a single glance."

Procter & Gamble, the FMCG giant, is one firm planning a major investment in this kind of approach at a corporate level, according to its ceo, Bob McDonald.

"With digitisation, our goal is to standardise, automate and integrate systems and data so we can create a real-time operating and decision-making environment," he said.

"By getting the right data to the right decision makers at the right time, we can become increasingly efficient and productive."

Coca-Cola Enterprises, which distributes goods from Coca-Cola's portfolio, has also leveraged software called SugarCRM to integrate various elements of its operations.

"The main goal was to get a global solution that combined e-commerce, CRM, and logistics into one package that everybody could standardize on," said Pierre Fredet, group director for dry outlets, Coca-Cola Enterprises.

Data sourced from Booz & Co/Procter & Gamble/Google; additional content by Warc staff