Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Digital Hero: Mark Ritson

We’re asking some of our industry’s leading figures to nominate their digital hero and to explain what’s so special about them.

Mark Ritson is one of the marketing industry’s most respected voices. He’s an Adjunct Professor at Melbourne Business School and as a global consultant has worked with clients from William Hill to Unilever and News Corp. An award-winning Marketing Week columnist, he’s known for his rigorous and informed dismantling of the sometimes spurious claims of the digital industry.

He was Jeremy Waite’s My Digital Hero.

Who is your digital hero and what have they done to win hero status in your eyes?

Jann Schwartz. I meet a lot of “digital marketers” and most of them have me reaching for my bullshit deflector two minutes into the conversation. But in Jann’s case I actually met someone who knew his marketing and communication fundamentals, could articulate genuine advantages to digital tactics but had a prosaic way of blending those digital advantages into an integrated mix.

I had almost stopped believing such people existed. 

How has their heroism helped drive digital?

Jann’s work at LinkedIn is supremely important. Usually the digital tactics are all targeted at the bottom of the funnel and the immediate, efficient metrics.

Jann’s team are focused on B2B marketing and how LinkedIn and the other digital platforms can fill the gap in the top of the funnel to build B2B brands.

This more advanced, nuanced approach is where digital needs to go next. Not just an overstated efficiency tool, but a rigorously-applied approach to effectiveness.  

What the biggest challenges in digital we need another hero to solve?

We need digital heroes that stop thinking radio, outdoor and news media are somehow “traditional” in their scope.

All of these media are now demonstrably more “digital” than “traditional” if we still want to use those terms and it’s criminal that the stupid media silos of the noughties continue to limit the way we operate and integrate marketing tactics.

What is your most heroic personal achievement so far in digital? 

I think calling out the fact that organic social media and all the bullshit that came with it back in 2007 to 2010 was just that.

So many people claimed that stuff like Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” was amazing when the data, if you looked at it for more than two seconds, showed you it was a small, relatively insignificant pin prick.

Saying now that digital media operates very much like any other advertising form is easy.

But saying it back then when organic social media and conversations with brands were touted as the future of marketing made me look like a total nutcase.