5 Things We Learned From the Digital Congress

This year, it's all about experience.
IMAGE Elyssa Lopez

With over 3,000 delegates and more than 80 local and international speakers, the International and Mobile Marketing Association of the Philippines’ Third Digital Congress Festival, or DigCon, is this year's largest showcase of cutting-edge digital media and marketing. Featuring speakers from Facebook, Google, Vice, and Endeavor, the three-day DigiCon ended today, October 5. Below, we round up five important things we learned during the first days of the congress:

1 | There’s gold in Digital Marketing

The term digital marketing might seem obtuse to some, but it’s quickly becoming the norm. Ken Lingan, president of IMMAP, lays down the facts: consumers are shifting towards digital modes. That means communicating online, getting news online, and shopping online. The Philippines in particular has seen a large shift towards smartphone usage, with most owning at least one. The digital marketing industry, meanwhile, is keeping up: from a mere 0.2% share of the market in 2007, it now comprises 20% today, translating to a 20 billion peso industry. You can bet that it’s only going to grow as more Filipinos transact with their smartphones, and more companies react by going to where the users are.

2| Experience is everything.

This year’s theme for DigiCon is Experience Extraordinary; in the lightning-fast world of the smartphone era, experience becomes everything. Dennis Perez, the Chair of the DigiCon XE Committee, puts it like this: “It’s not just important to be the first … People remember not the first, but the best.” Being online means you’re competing for peoples’ attention with almost everybody, and when anybody can create content and put it out on the Internet, people have the luxury to choose what service they want. It’s no longer enough for your online store to be the first one the customer engages with, since engaging with online stores is too easy. It’s the experience of engaging with you that counts now.


3| The best experience is the authentic experience.

DigiCon XE zeroes in on experiences, and no experience is a good as an authentic one. As keynote speaker Bozoma Saint John, says, “Oftentimes, we rely so much on our data and info that’s driving our digital spaces, but we forget our humanity—our feelings and emotions—that drive us.” Bozoma should know; she’s the CMO for Endeavor, and she used to work for Uber and Apple. And it’s true of any brand or service: Whether it’s Uber showing LeBron and KD go on a ride, or Bench pulling our heartstrings with their "Amoy Kita" advert, the ones that really stick are the ones that create a connection with the audience. We don’t just want something anymore; we want passion and humanity, and nothing drives passion more than engaging with services created by passionate people.

4| We’re moving towards online communities.

The pace where people are moving online is scarily quick: social media platforms like Facebook are starting to be eclipsed by messaging applications like Messenger and Viber, and this is especially true in the Philippines. The world gets smaller and smaller as we move towards online communities. “Messaging shortens the distance between people and what they want,” points out Asher Rapkin, who is Facebook’s head of Business Marketing, Messaging, and Emerging Platforms. The way people engage with companies has changed too. Products and services are now engaging directly with the consumer through chat bots and stickers. Influencers are using Facebook and Viber groups to directly reach out to followers, and as time goes on, technology is going to bring us closer and provide a more intimate experience. As Viber’s Asia-Pacific Head of Business Development Anubhav Nayyar puts it, “The way we communicate has changed for good.” And when the way we communicate changes, the way we perceive the world changes with it.

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5| The youth are leading the way

This year’s DigiCon acknowledges that with its Digital Young Creatives competition, where thirty teams will compete to represent the country at the Cannes Young Lions competition. Previous years’ tandem winners James Mendoza and Wacky Torres, and Sam Teaño and Lea Valenzuela took the stage to talk to students from colleges all over the country about their experience and give invaluable advice on breaking from tradition. This generation may not yet have the experience, but as long as the drive and the passion is there, they will always be the best ones to speak for themselves. As James Mendoza says, “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. As young people, you can fail because you are insignificant. Use that to your advantage.”

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Justin Umali
Justin is left-handed, left-leaning, and best left in a cool, damp place. He listens to Vampire Weekend when he's down and Car Seat Headrest when he's not. He usually writes about Philippine history and politics, and believes that you cannot change the world without understanding it first.
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