Farhan Chaudhary









By Farhan Chaudhary

10 things I learned from digital elective in New York

“This elective will be most relevant to learn innovative methodologies in digital marketing in a place which is the origin for major marketing companies.”

 This was the crux of my application for the New York city digital elective held by Saïd Business school for Oxford MBA 2015-16. Let me jump right in with ten hashtags that sum up my learning from the elective and measure the outcomes of this elective against my initial expectations.


CDO at New York’s mayor’s office spoke about digital transformation that has helped parents and children in New York for a smooth Pre-K admission process. The arduous process of downloading, printing and faxing application forms was solved by building a simple app.

From NYC’s CDO to The MET’s CDO who gave us tips on using Instagram and a personal tour of The MET which helped us understand how digital transformation can be used to ensure a museum’s vision of making 5000 years of art available for everyone to enjoy and experience.


All major media companies that we visited from Mashable to New York Times are working on having a unique stack. Mashable gave us a glimpse of Velocity that blew our minds. The New York Times R&D lab that has DELTA which visualizes reader activity in real time impressed us more than the view from The New York Times window. Just to give you a glimpse of the view.

Farhan trek post photo


Engaging customers at a particular touch point such as a store front, end of a remote control, the fine print of a newspaper or the blaring sounds of radio is a thing of past. Companies expect marketers to think beyond touch points and engage customers in new and innovative ways. #BORNANDMADE  from Carol Daughter was one of the engagement campaigns that we understood at L’Oreal’s New York office.


Native advertising, Programmatic Buying, DBM, UGC Widgets, CPL, CPM, CPE, Value Proposition, agile marketing, and I could go on. I learned and understood many new words that are used in the digital marketing context.


Customer data is valuable but without context, marketers cannot use this data to gather the insight which is relevant for marketing strategies.

The equation to remember from our visit to WPP’s office:


To further authenticate this belief at FCB’s office we heard “Data is only as good as what you do with it.”


As we interacted with agencies and some of the potential clients for these agencies, we witnessed a disconnect for KPI’s in digital. What should be measured? How many parameters are enough? Agencies are continuously educating clients. Clients are trying to understand their consumer behavior online which is very erratic. The sweet spot of measurements is still undefined but everybody loves numbers.


“Internal change that organization has to go through to get to external change is more difficult”. Although I heard this quote at Interbrand’s office while learning more about FEDEX office origin, I also witnessed the significance of this quote while visiting The MET. All digital strategies would require more internal alignment to achieve external digital goals.


Storytelling does not belong to a brand or a marketer. In today’s digital world a brand is co-owned by the users and they tell your stories online. Companies have to think of different ways to tell stories. User created content, native advertising and story mining are different ways in which stories can be told or obtained. A brand needs to understand its once upon a time.


How important is it to integrate the stories on different platforms? At one end we learned about how a marketing team has started calling themselves as Integrated Marketing and at the other end of the spectrum we heard a creative saying every story should be unique irrespective of the platform. Integration might kill the story. A balance of integration and story telling is what digital platforms need today.


FCB’s creative team summed it up very well for us. “Today everything is more exciting because you can dream bigger.” With technology we should remember the human goals and the most important rule for marketers should be: “Work is authentic to the brand”.

These 10 takeaways were from the talks and interactions with various companies. There is a whole list of takeaways because of the amazing company of Oxford MBA’s, our professors and also the support staff. It’s the community that enhances any learning and I am glad that I am part of such an amazing community.

Back to top of article

Share this post:

follow us in feedly