Ashton Media
Marketing & Customer Experience Hub

TREND ALERT – Combining Culture: bringing digital natives into the corporate world

The ever evolving marketing team has undergone perhaps its biggest change over the past 15 years. The rise of digital has meant that marketers have had to expand their knowledge base to include a breadth of technical knowledge. It has also meant that new roles for digital experts have arisen, usually from the Millennial and Gen Z generations.


These groups have been coined ‘Digital Natives’ since they grew up in an era of unprecedented technological change. They are comfortable adopting and working with new devices and technology and are less set on traditional career paths.  Much has been said about these generations and their ability to adapt to the workplace, in particular the Millennials who have been there longer, however, their skill set (creative, understanding of technology, comfort level with change) is becoming increasingly relevant for corporate marketing teams.

But moving the digital natives into in-house marketing teams – particularly in more traditional industries like finance and transport – comes with its challenges.

Who are these people?

These digital natives are experts in their field and this should be explained to the team straight away. They will, most likely, be applying for their first in-house, corporate role and might not be familiar with the process.

This is, most likely, the first time the corporate has employed this resource for this type of position as well. Understanding exactly what they need from their digital marketer is essential and should be thoroughly researched.

Explain to your team exactly what the digital role entails and the reason you’re employing for that skillset. Once the team are aware of what success looks like in the digital marketing role, encourage feedback, reporting and transparency.

Flexible hours

Internal marketing teams can be more accustomed to traditional work hours. Digital marketers such as social media community managers, usually work on the same timeline as your audience giving them an opportunity for live and immediate conversation, eg when people are leaving for work, lunch and evenings when watching TV etc. This means they will need customised working hours.

Ensuring that your whole team understands that roles such as this need more flexibility around hours is essential so that the are digital marketers are not misunderstood.


Clearly setting expectations from the beginning will help with any potentially awkward conversations later on. Digital natives are most likely coming either, directly from university or from an agency where the culture, dress sense and office banter are very relaxed. Be open with your new employee on not only what is expected from a work perspective but also what is expected from a professional and cultural perspective.

Encourage internal training sessions to leverage knowledge. Digital natives come with a bunch of new and potentially disruptive ideas. Harness this energy, and also mentor them for success. It’s important for management to harness the knowledge from both parts of the marketing team as these will evolve into the same business unit quickly.

Fresh ideas for campaigns

Corporate ‘old school’ marketing teams can tend to re-hash campaigns they know work and be some what risk averse. Digital Natives are known for their bold ideas and creativity.

Encouraging the team as a whole to be open minded and brainstorm ideas regularly allows both sides of the fence to understand each other more. Encourage innovative and disruptive ideas that still maintain the brand voice and are consistent with brand guidelines and messaging.

Being open with the team and letting them know one of the reasons you’re employing a digital native is they’ll understand new ways of engaging your audience through new apps etc. Allowing the company to harness the creativity the digital marketers are known for and getting comfortable with ‘letting go of the reins’ and trusting that your digital native will plan, execute and where necessary, control the brand message.

Both traditional marketers and digital natives can learn so much from each other. Despite the challenges, this incorporation of fresh talent and marketing experience is proving to result in some really exciting campaigns. Encouraging an open mind and ensuring that both parties have as much information as possible is essential for success and employee satisfaction.

About Ben Sharp - Managing Director, AdRoll
Ben Sharp is the Managing Director of AdRoll in Australia and New Zealand. Ben joined AdRoll in 2014 and is responsible for launching, managing the operations and growing AdRoll’s business across the region. Ben has a deep passion for digital media, with over 15 years of experience in the field. Prior to joining AdRoll, Ben founded Allure Media and published many Australian versions of popular websites such as Gizmodo, Business Insider, and Popsugar. Before founding Allure in 2007, Ben spent 10 years building sales and marketing teams at Yahoo! Australia and various startups in the UK.