Where next?

I began my Economics degree with a very vague idea that I would end up working ‘in business’. Exactly what I thought this meant is still unclear even to me but there was definitely a skirt-suit and a briefcase involved. Now as I near the end of my penultimate year of study I want to use this post to reflect on how both my career goals and my understandings of the professional world have evolved.

 Economics is lauded as a very employable degree. It is certainly a subject which opens many career doors and shuts very few. I believe that the reason for this is that studying economics requires a mixture of highly sought after skills; problem solving, mathematics, researching, concise communication and perhaps most importantly determination.

 So, if I make it to the end of this degree, I will find myself in the privileged position of having many career options. I have found this wealth of choice to be, in equal measure, both exciting and overwhelming and it has taken a lot of time and thought to narrow down what sort of path I want to pursue.

 After a slight detour into studying philosophy, a short-time spent interested in a career in finance and a while spent questioning if economics (and even university) was for me I discovered the field of development economics. My long-term goal is to work for an NGO promoting development.

 With this goal in mind I am considering different paths which can lead me towards it. I am turning my attention to building my knowledge and skills over-and-above my degree. I have always been interested in innovative forms of communication, branding and advertising and this brings me to my time at Elastic Creative. Elastic produce highly valuable work for clients from across the public and private sectors and I decided to approach them after recognising that branding and digital marketing are of key importance to all types of organisations in the modern world.

 Through my personal research (which I aim to formalise through the writing of a weekly blog) and through conversations with the team I have garnered many useful insights into this industry. Before I started this placement I was truly unaware of the complexities and tools on-hand for building a brand and optimising business development strategies.

 I see the central crossover between the work of a creative agency and studying economics as being that they are both built around building up an understanding of consumer decision-making. Every time I come into the Elastic studio I am able to observe links between Behavioural economics and marketing strategies. Theory is played out in a practical way and this interaction has really added another dimension to my understanding of central economic ideas and marketing.

 A creative agency builds a picture of decision-making by measuring consumer engagement. The team at elastic has been able to explain some of the vast developments in measuring engagement due to the Internet and web-analytics. Agencies like Elastic are challenged to evolve alongside the technologies of the modern age and this makes for an exciting work environment.

 Once a picture of a target audience has been built up, a creative agency will work out the optimal strategy for a brand to engage them. Prior to this work experience this stage of the process was completely new to me. Knowing what will work is the result of a mixture of creative intuition and experience. Modern technologies can also be applied and a chosen strategy can be evaluated on a continuous basis. In response to the speed of consumption in the modern world agencies incorporate a greater degree flexibility and adaptation into their work.

 The team have been able to show me that the creative industry is an area with a lot to offer a young person; it is creative, dynamic and offers a lot of variety from project to project. As independent brand strategists the team at elastic are able to really make a difference to the clients who seek their services. The impact of their work is measurable through technologies and feedback from clients.

 In a more general sense I have found this work experience placement to be a highly useful insight into the professional world. Elastic have a great working environment and a great team. The studio is open plan and ideas are free to jump around the office throughout the day. Even the experience of setting up this placement has been highly useful in increasing my confidence a huge amount and it has been incredibly useful to have the chance to build up skills which will definitely be useful wherever I end up working.

 It has been a privilege to be given this opportunity and I am very grateful to Alex and the team at elastic for having me.

 

Advertisements

Cookies

24427300-big-data-management-icons-set-information-technology-buttons-Stock-Vector

 

People are choosing to share more information via the internet than ever before, primarily through social media. I am investigating developments in modern digital marketing and  in this first blog post I will look at a somewhat less visible channel through which information is shared online – cookies.

Cookies collect information by monitoring a web user’s behaviour. As a web user navigates a site information is stored in ‘Cookies’ – miniature data files which ‘remember’ each visit and recognise returning users. The name is believed to originate from the cookie-crumb-esque trail that an internet user will leave as they travel through the dense forest that is the modern web.This modern marketing tool is increasingly used to inform the decision making of digital marketers tasked with creating and improving the online experience of consumers.

On a given website, where customers are engaging with a product or service, cookies can be of benefit to both the buyer and seller involved in the transaction. The company who is selling or promoting a product can access information –unattainable prior to the internet age – regarding browsing habits and individual interests (as measured by clicking habits) which help it to augment its service to maximise sales. This process of optimization has developed into the field of UX (user experience). On the other hand cookies enable customers to receive a more personalized online service with a website which is programmed to optimize the ease and enjoyment of their experience.

67% of UK internet users make purchases online. The ease of a modern internet transaction is facilitated by services enabled and informed by data collection from cookies. Simple functions such as the ‘shopping basket’, which streamline the customers shopping experience, rely on data stored through cookies. Information gathered through cookies pushes web designers to think about innovative ways of improving their web service.

As an economics student I wonder if technologies such as cookies bring us closer towards a markets which operates with perfect information. Characterised by consumers and producers both having perfect information on price, quality, product benefits and production methods a perfect information market maximises efficiency and utility in an economy. Moving closer to this ideal scenario delivers benefits to every agent involved in trade.

The internet has advanced the ability of consumers to build up knowledge and understanding prior to product purchase through the culture of online reviews and comparisons. Product review and comparison sites reduce levels of asymmetric information in transactions and the internet enables customers greater freedom to shop around for the optimal deal. Companies also access more information through the internet via Cookies. Innovative web-design which employs features of personalisation is a new opportunity for companies to utilise this information and work harder to capture their better informed customers. The online domain is a playing field where the forces of competition can interplay to the benefit of both buyers and sellers. With cookies transferring information from buyers to sellers the actual consumer purchasing process becomes far clearer. Cookies can measure how a purchase proceeds and what aspects of a website a customer engages with allowing the company to grasp what consumers do and do not like about their service.

Cookies create a personal service but also give consumers another channel, although more subtle than directly voicing feedback, through which to air their voice. If a website become over-personalised and is perceived as intrusive a customer will choose to buy from a different producer. Reduced use of a site will be recorded through cookies and fed-back to the organisation indicating that they should reduce their levels of personalisation. The reaction of customers to personalisation maybe be partially informed by demographics and generational attitudes. If a company also holds data on these variables then it can build an enriched picture of customers and their preferences.

There exists a market for the use of cookies whereby the benefits of personalisation enjoyed by website users offset the costs of sharing personal data with companies – for some this cost takes the form of a reluctance to have a record of online activity being stored. This balance as sought by companies. With a product-selling website a process of adjustment and reaction should in-theory continue until the level of personalisation is optimised from the point of view of the customer. When the service is optimised for the customer the sales will be optimised from the company.

 

An amalgamation of what I learn whilst spending time at a Creative Digital Marketing Agency.