As regular readers of Forrester's blogs already know my colleagues Sucharita Mulpuru, Shar VanBoskirk and I (Lisa Bradner) were part of last week's Digital Hack Night at Procter and Gamble. (If you missed the story can read about the event in detail at Ad Age here ). In four hours digital experts and P&G employees were divided into teams and challenged to sell as many Tide shirts as possible using their social networks and digital skills. Proceeds of the Tide shirts benefit Tide's Loads of Hope charity. The objective of the event was to give a hands-on experience for traditional brand marketers at P&G the impact of social media.
While debate about the event has raged online we thought it worthwhile to step back and take a look at the longer term lessons we observed from this event. These lessons aren't P&G specific-they're food for thought for every marketer trying to get smart in social media. So, what did we observe? For starters:
Cause matters. Each attendee at the event was asked to tap their personal network to ask friends, colleagues and family to purchase on behalf of charity.
Interesting findings from Nielsen that ABC has 9 of the top 10 shows watched online. It is interesting that ABC has carved out a dominant position with out being on everybody's favorite TV portal, Hulu, or setting up a vast distribution network (similar to what CBS has put in place).
We have discussed online TV distribution strategies in our report, The Internet Television Value Chain, and would love to hear your feedback on what you think ABC is doing right? Or what its competitors are doing wrong?
The results are in. And the collective effort of the four teams partipating in P&G's digital night sold 3,000 Loads of Hope t-shirts and raised $50,000 for charity. Tide actually matched the money raised, putting the total disaster relief donation to $100,000 for four hours of effort. Thank you to all who bought t-shirts!
Nielsen buzz monitor Pete Blackshaw's column in AdAge suggests the future of marketing is marketing to marketers. He uses Twitter as the prime example. I'm skeptical. A lot of Blackshaw's argument rests on the online social talking-to-each-other and linking dynamic that results in boosted organic search rankings. He calls colleague Jeremiah Owyang a de facto media channel with "buzz reach that would make most media planners salivate." But he also notes that "we end up interpreting the very buzz we created or fueled ourselves." Amen.
So I'm in Cincinnati right now at P&G's self-described "Digital Hack Night" where the goal is twofold: to get their brand managers to understand a bit more about digital marketing strategies and to raise money for their "Loads of Hope" charity which is tied to Tide. For the next 2 hours, nearly 100 people--P&G brand managers, bloggers, Twitterers, authors and agency folks--are trying to use every social network--Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube--we have at our disposal with the ultimate objective of getting as many Loads of Hope tshirts sold on their eCommerce site as possible. We have a big leaderboard screen, QVC-style, that shows exactly how many unique visits we've received, what our conversion rate is and how many t-shirts we've sold (5,000+, 6% and 1,000+ by the way, respectively, at the moment). What a great way to get non-believers in the channel to see quickly, in real time, how rapidly an idea can radiate through a network and drive sales.
So I got a golden ticket to P&G's digital hack night -- a P&G party to bring together social media experts, P&G digital minds, and experienced interactive marketers to share ideas. The event is to test the strength of digital media to try to generate $100,000 for charity.
Last night, colleague Nate Elliott tweeted about a cool Apple rich media ad on ESPN's home page. That inspired me to take a quick morning tour around major media sites, to see what everyone's doing. The unscientific homepage summary below shows who's doing branding deals, and gives some hints at how tough things are for different segments. Sports site are rockin'. Traditional news media and portals at least have fixed-placement sponsors that own the page for the day. CBS seems to be doing something interesting.
Now that both Kraft and Betty Crocker offer iPhone applications through Apple's App Store, many traditional consumer brands have to be wondering if they should do likewise. It's not a trivial question.
I'm working on a new report that tackles this issue. There is plenty of upside, especially if your app connects with the iPhone crowd and you don't encounter hiccups. If your brand is considering such a move, I'd like to hear from you and find out some of the challenges you've encountered so far. Or if your brand has already deployed a mobile iPhone app (or an Android one) and can offer a case study, let me know. Send an email to email@example.com and help me chew on the topic.
Clearly there is a lot of passion and discussion about our latest research piece on sponsored conversations. But one thing is clear: whether you like it or not, sponsored conversation is happening and growing. I still believe that marketers have an opportunity to work with bloggers in an above board fashion under very specific conditions (transparency, authenticity, relevance, commitment and the addition of "no follow" links). I want to address two specific issues: Google "no follow" and Payola.