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A day in the life of a Digital Marketing Professor

Louis Havriliuc  //  19.08.2016

You wake up at 6:45 AM after Dinner last night in the company of a group of visiting PhD Researchers. The topic of their research is ’Social Media: Qualitative research in an era of continuous paradigm shifts’. Most of the discussion went on whether Facebook or Twitter is better for collecting data. Facebook has more data but Twitter makes it easier to access and analyze. There was a new network brought up by one of the younger students but you can’t remember the name. The millenial-designed logo resembled something from Pac Man. The highlight of the evening was definitely the quantitative research approach this super bright student described. It was so well planned, so beautifully thought out you had the feeling that even the waiters stayed in to listen to the latest data manipulation techniques, plates in hand. The risotto was ok-ish.

You grab your phone and rush to the kitchen, only to find out that you are running low on whole wheat biscuits. You make a note of picking them up later in the evening right after the movie with your new date. You met them through this dating app which was recommended to you by a departmental colleague. It’s all the rage now, just the other day you overheard a conversation on how many interesting people they met on there and you decided to give it a go. Browsing through e-mails you soon realise you've spent too much time deciding on where to go on vacation next: Sardinia would be nice this year. You don’t book yet.

Mediterranean Island

You go down in front of the building and even if it's just a 20 minutes walk to the campus you decide on taking the bus. Headphones in your ear, you switch from a deceitfully long marketing podcast to to an age old funky tune while starting to do some light stretching in the space between you and the front seat. You get up to reach the upper handles and slowly lean towards the side window while still holding on. This is going to be a great day by the looks of it. All of a sudden it seems to you that not everyone on the bus is in such a good mood as you are. You’re happy to get off.

In your office now, you notice you have two voice messages: one from the marketing conference representative which reminds you of the event taking place soon in Belgium and that you HAVE to be there, and the other one from your mother, asking whether she can come and visit. You’ve been to Belgium before. Many times. You think whether to ask if your mother has ever visited Bruges, but you keep it together. Most likely you will end up working on your research paper. Everyone else is doing the same anyway you mutter to yourself.

First lecture of the day is on Digital Marketing Strategy. Today’s lesson is about integrating multiple online marketing channels in communications. It’s time to play sage on the stage and show these digital natives who’s boss. They might know about mobile phones and social media but boy are they in for a surprise when it comes to best practices for measuring campaign results. Halfway in and there are some raised hands. You know by now that this particular lesson is always going to stir up debate.

Student: I am managing this one property and I am wondering how to merge historical data after moving to a new analytics tracking system. Forget sage on a stage, it’s time for the guide on the side. You refer to the technical documentation of each system to see how they are tracking visits and presto, question answered: there is no easy way to merge data as tracking works differently. Student shrugs it off and says he needs to look into the future not the past anyway.

Another Student: I have a lot of incoming visitors to my blog from this one social network where I am quite popular because I have many friends and people which react to my posts but I can’t get them to share and comment on my articles. You pop open the browser window and apparently this is a vegan cooking website, however the design is a bit on the meaty side. With the font looking a bit chunky as well you recommend a slimmer, more delicate typeface. You hone down on the audience and browse through some reference vegan cuisine websites to look for inspiration, saving a few recipes along the way to your online bookmarking service. You notice smiles all across the class. Feels good to be a teacher on some days.

Vegan Dish

You move on in hope of fuelling the fire of curiosity in your students for display ads. You don’t get any reactions so you decide to give it a go and stir up some debate: How many of you have clicked a banner ad lately? An eerie silence follows. One student sheds light and says that most of them use ad blockers nowadays and that they hate banner ads. Wait, what have you been doing? How could you have been talking about creepy ads which follow unsuspecting people around when browsing? These kids are the future, they should make Marketing less invasive and more relevant. Soul searching is best done alone you say to yourself.

With the class now almost over this finds you frantically talking about ethics in digital business and just as you get out the door two foreign students approach you asking if you had the chance to answer their e-mail sent last week on Friday. You have this cold chill running down your spine as it’s clear that the course rating you will get from these two could be in danger because of this small blunder. You try to put on a smile and assure them that you will get to it ASAP. You notice one of them has a t-shirt with the weird looking Pac Man logo from the other night. You attempt an open-ended question to find out more about the network but they won’t budge. You don’t feel like wedging it, and risk coming across as not 'down with it’. Not the right moment, not with course evaluation just around the corner. You just flash the most sophisticated high-tech equipment that you have on yourself and say Auf Wiedersehen!

Come lunch time, and your usual spot is taken over by the finance professors which are sitting there already. They’re fun to be around but today you feel that you need a bit of time alone and you walk past them saying in a louder than normal voice that you will leverage the terrace. That felt good! Not long after one of your older colleague shows up, worried because the university has started recording lectures, wondering if they will be replaced. You explain how this helps marketing, how students can get an idea for the content on the courses well before they sign up to a programme. Then they ask you on your opinion on this new ‘king of social media’ guy but you say you only follow the Queen and take a dip out of the soufflé. You can’t hold it together and burst in laughter when asked for the Queen’s twitter account.

You remember that you have a one-to-one meeting with the Dean in exactly 5 minutes. You whizz out the lunch area and into the main building. The secretary greets you with a somewhat compassionate attitude, patting your shoulder asking how you’ve been while you begin to wonder what is going on. You remember that you just got a note the other day to come in, no reason given.

The Dean comes in, grave look on his face, saying that students nowadays are different, that there is no respect for the institution anymore and that things are going to have to change. You nod approvingly while you wait for the real reason why you were called in for. He pulls up a file and reads out all the deparments as he turns the pages: Banking, Economics, Finance, Management and then makes a long pause before he reaches to Marketing. He mumbles something and then says that this year Marketing, led by Digital Marketing has seen the highest rise in student enrolments year on year in the last decade. He congratulates you on your good work and he announces a bigger budget for the department. He also lets you know about this one-of-a-kind digital marketing simulation game, authored by a guy with a rather funny name from Romania. You promise to check it out.


You have another course on e-mail marketing, where the highlight is you dancing to one of the student’s ringtones to the classes delight. You finish the day with a videoconference with this charming overseas research assistant which will join you in your research starting next semester. You decide to call off the movie with your virtual date and just go for some takeaway. You rejoice as the reminder notification on your phone flashes ‘Biscuits!’ accompanied by a bell sound in the metro.

You get home, and start answering e-mail. Your academic director sends you an e-mail in which he would like to use the new Pokemon Go game to get students to attend more classes. He finishes abruptly with ‘we have to catch them all’. You start a reply but soon enough fall asleep.

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