CINCINNATI: The marketing industry will be transformed in five years time, with the scale of the shift taking place in the sector "probably equalling the change in the last 100 years," according to Dave Knox, corporate marketing brand manager for digital business strategy at Procter & Gamble.

As previously reported, Procter & Gamble is increasingly shifting its focus to new media, and particularly the web, as it seeks to tap in to changing consumer behaviour.

Knox has now argued that the world's biggest advertiser is using these "digital tools to continue to be a leader and innovator in marketing and digital business."

To successfully operate in this environment, he suggested, marketers need to become "Technopologists", and demonstrate a variety of different skillsets.

Someone filling such a role recognises "the opportunities of technology, realises the impact it will have on society, and then looks at the business and marketing opportunities both of these will create," he said.

This has become increasingly important as different types of media converge, and as developing platforms "offer new ways to serve and engage people more effectively."

P&G has itself created a number of online communities that attempt to connect with a variety of niche audiences, from teenage girls to pet owners.

Knox also cited MyStarbucksIdeas, run by the coffee house chain, and Dell's IdeaStorm as instances where social media is having an impact on innovation and new product design.

Similarly, he mentioned co-creation, as adopted by Dorito's for its Super Bowl campaign, and "crowdsourcing", as recently employed by Unilever in the UK, as two key future trends.

Advertisers also need to move away from imposing their marketing communications on consumers, and entertain them instead.

"In a world where consumers don't have to put up with the interruption any longer, brands are going to have to start thinking different about content and entertainment," he said.

Mobile is another medium Knox predicted will have a great impact going forward, although, as yet, “I don't think we have even started to scratch the service on that one."

In order to establish innovation programmes in the digital space, many companies will also need to adapt their existing mindsets.

"If every idea is run through a committee and validated with consumer research, you will just end up with a watered down idea," Knox said.

"Take risks with unique ideas and see what happens. In this digital world, failing doesn't mean defeat … but the key is being able to fail fast so you can get on to the next idea."

Data sourced from Smart Planet; additional content by Warc staff