NEW YORK: Marketers must effectively manage various "dualisms" – such as balancing intuition with a focus on return on investment – to succeed in the digital world, according to a leading executive.

Pete Blackshaw, Nestlé's global head/digital and social media, discussed this idea while speaking at the Advertising Age Digital Conference 2014, an event held in New York.

"One of the things I really emphasise a lot is this concept of 'digital dualisms'. Dualisms are tension points or ostensible opposites," he said. (For more, including details of how the Swiss company has made in-roads in Silicon Valley, read Warc's exclusive report: Nestlé's three pillars of digital success.)

"And what I impress upon our leaders is that success in brand-building today is not necessarily about resolving tension; it's about managing tension. And the same thing applies to digital."

He went on to outline several "classic digital dualisms" which marketers are now required to address as they attempt to progress in the new-media ecosystem.

"Innovation, in particular, is a tango between those two tensions," he said. "It's disruptive, it's uncomfortable, it's certainly uncertain. But that's where the breakthrough occurs, and that's what we're trying to accomplish."

Alongside innovation and balancing a focus on measurement with trusting their instinct and experience, marketers need to find the appropriate mix of becoming an enabler and acting as a gatekeeper.

Recognising formal and informal power is also important, both on sites like Facebook and on in-house social networks. "That's something that social networks bring to the table, especially in large organisations."

Perhaps the most pressing dualisms, however, come with assessing the precise role digital tools ought to play in building brands, argued Blackshaw, who was chairman of the judges for the Warc Prize for Social Strategy.

"Probably the biggest one that we grapple with all the time is this notion of integration versus stimulation. Should digital be standalone? Should it be integrated into everything?" he said.

"It's not one or the other; it's both. And I think to be effective in today's environment we have to manage that tension."

Data sourced from Warc