Watch out — Software developers are becoming admen, and admen are becoming engineers.

Watch out — Software developers are becoming admen, and admen are becoming engineers.

“All marketing will be digital sometime in the next 10 years”

–Steve Ballmer, CEO Microsoft, BusinessWeek, Oct 2007

Great quote for people in our industry and one that I think everyone fundementally believes.

It is interesting that in response to a threat to traditional software revenue, one of the smartest companies on the planet is focusing on advertising as its next source of revenue. Just when everyone thought advertising was dead.

What can we take away from this?

1) No one will pay for software anymore.

Microsoft believes people will not pay for applications. It is clear that Google also believes this and is putting into action from e-mail to word processing.

Stop and think of all of the applications you use to help you with your life –word processing, e-mail, financial planning tools, excersize trackers, vacation planners, home maintenance logs. Everyone of them can be provided by a brand in exchange for customers’ loyalty and not sold for £20 (or £200) at PC World.

2) Advertising isn’t dead, it simply has a new home

When a brand creates an application to help its customers, it still has to remind its customers why their product is relevant and let them know about new releases. This unobtrusive communication is the new advertising. Think of the VideoEgg and YouTube’s approach which recognises there are lots of times people want to watch an ad, not the current industry review in the UK to increase ad time from 7 minutes per hour to 12 on commercial TV.

3) Advertising will be driven by applications

Bob Garfield here talks about advertising being dead, or at least the 30 second spot. “Brands need to connect with customers.” We hear that a lot, but what does it mean? It means brands need to create applications that are useful and make a difference for their customers to pay attention and like them. That’s calculators, games, educational tools and billboards that notice your tire pressure is low and remind you take care of your car.

4) Learn to love your techies

Jonathan Nelson, founder of Organic, has always said “the world will never get less technical. It not like people can’t find more places to put microchips.” If marketers need to create applications to get their customers attention, they better learn the language of software development. People love to talk about digital channels, but a video ad can be a pre-roll on a website. That is digital but it isn’t unobtrusive. A print piece can be sent over e-mail. For marketing to be interactive, it needs to be functional. For anything — website, banner, billboard, video ad — to be functional, it has an application behind it.

Go out and hug a software engineer, it could be the most important thing you do for your marketing.