Defining The "Digital Agency"

This week AdAge released their annual Agency Report.  In it they once again ranked the top “digital agencies” in the US.  This is a valuable report to many marketers (and to Forrester, as we often use it to report agency revenue in our Wave report).  I tip my cap to the AdAge team as I know first hand how hard it is to compile this type of information. However, the list itself also reflects how the agency world is changing. For instance, while stalwarts like Razorfish and Digitas top the list, there are many unconventional names throughout the list such as Meredith, IBM, Acxiom, GSI and Acquity Group. It includes traditional agencies such as Ogilvy, Goodby & Silverstein and DraftFCB and beyond that it even includes contest company ePrize and GroupM’s search division. And while this list has always had a mix of players, the emergence of these firms as “digital agencies” continues to show how the old agency walls are fading and how agencies and marketing services firms are entering a “Great Race” for relevance as they see opportunities to enter the interactive/digital market.

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UK Recorded Music Revenues Up: First Take

The BPI has just published numbers recording 1.4% year on year growth in the UK music market during 2009. With more than half an eye on the wider political context, the BPI’s press release treads a careful balance between reporting the good news and casting it in the context of a wider malaise. Whatever the motives though, the ‘glass half empty’ perspective is appropriate. The UK recorded music market has lost close to 40% of its value since 2003. Though this isn’t necessarily a dead cat bounce, it is going to take a lot more than 1.4% annual growth to turn things around.

Downloads aren’t replacing the CD. Digital sales in 2009 boomed - growing by 48% - offsetting the impact of CD sales decline for the first time … just … (online digital revenue growth was 53m GBP compared to a CD decline of 48m GBP). But this isn’t a simple downloads versus CDs picture. In these days of plummeting CD sales, recorded music numbers encompass a pretty diverse portfolio of products and revenue streams, including DVDs, mobile, ad-supported streaming, etc. 

The digital model is far from fixed yet. The download market will not save the music industry. It will be one small part of a multifaceted product portfolio. 48% digital growth may sound good but it is important to keep a sense of scale: download revenues are just 21% of CD sales and mobile revenues actually *declined by 14%*. The CD remains the bedrock of sales not because it is a robust product but because the competition is so weak.

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Do Your Customer Self-Service Metrics Measure What Matters to Your Customers?

After a week of startlingly frequent and frustrating customer service encounters, I’ve wondered: to what extent do customer self-service metrics measure what matters to customers? There are many metrics to assess the performance of online self-service: average visits per customer, average page views, online resolution rate, number of zero-results searches, customer feedback on FAQ quality ... But how well does this measure a satisfied customer? Let’s think about what customers want:

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Using Social Media To Influence Product Strategy -- New Poll Coming April 27!

Just a quick announcement: a new consumer product strategy survey will be launching tomorrow! The survey addresses how companies are using social media to influence product strategy:  whether companies do so, what kind of processes they have in place, and the general attitude about using social media in this way.  Participants will receive a copy of the research report sharing the results of the survey. 

I'll post again once the link is live; in the meantime, if you'd like to receive a direct invitation or set up a time to chat with me about how your company uses social tools in this way (or why your company doesn't!), please shoot me a note at dwilliams at forrester dot com.

How Would You Define A Customer Outcome?

Executives at large accounts with complex problems want more than your “solution” – and rarely have a line item in their budget for your offering.  Instead, they have an initiative, with a goal, an objective…and a desired outcome.  And they lament that salespeople are often unprepared to have a discussion about the buyer’s issues and where they can help.

A customer’s desire for a business outcome is an important force that’s separating strategic vendors from commodity suppliers. We think that this idea of an outcome — in fact, an emerging Outcome Economy —needs to be clearly understood as being different from simply providing solutions and benefits.  So what is the difference?  Are you selling outcomes for your key customers?  How would you know?  And how can you help account teams have conversations about them?

We’re interested in your thoughts on what qualifies, in the customer’s eyes, as an outcome.  Here are our initial thoughts.  What are we missing?  What would you change?

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The Online Panel Quality Debate Continues

Last week, I was in LA, hosting a session on online panel quality at Forrester’s Marketing Forum. I discussed the past, present, and future of online panel quality with Steve Schwartz from Microsoft, Maria Cristina Gomez from Procter & Gamble, and Frank Findley from ARS Group.

Online panel quality is still a major issue in the industry. The whole discussion started in 2006 with a speech by Kim Dedeker -- at that time, the VP of global consumer and market knowledge at Procter & Gamble. In it, she publicly expressed her concerns about online panel quality, how it affected their research results, and, as a result, the credibility of market research. In her speech, she stressed that, in her opinion, the industry – both research suppliers and clients – needed to focus on how to improve the overall quality of research. Her appeal to the industry was very successful. Many other research buyers weighed in with their stories, and the research providers took up the challenge. Since then, many initiatives have started, such as the ARF’s Foundation of Quality and ESOMAR’s 26 questions, as well as more technology-driven approaches like Peanut Labs’ Optimus and MarketTools’ TrueSample.

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Who’s your Chechu Rubiera?

Lance Armstrong is one of the most recognized athletes on the planet. He’s a cancer survivor and the only person to have ever won 7 Tours de France. But, have you ever heard of Chechu Rubiera? He’s a pretty accomplished professional bike rider too. He has won stages of the Giro d’Italia and team stages in the Tour de France. He has finished in the top 10 in both the Giro and the Vuelta a Espana.

But something else you may not know about Rubiera is that he was on Lance Armstrong’s team when Armstrong won 5 of his 7 Tours. Cycling is an odd sport. I’m an addict. I can watch several hours of guys on bikes riding up and down mountains. Maybe cycling fans are odd too… But what’s amazing and I think unique about cycling is that although one guy gets a victory – wins a stage or a grueling three week race - they can’t do it on their own. Their team is crucial to their victory. The team shields them from the wind, paces them up the hills, protects them from the hustle and bustle within the peloton, fetches food and water, and generally buries themselves in the hope that the team leader can get the win.

What does this have to do with Customer Intelligence? Not much, actually. This post is personal.

Yesterday, I completed my first Forrester Forum Keynote at our Marketing Forum in Los Angeles. That was about Customer Intelligence. The feedback has been amazing – and extremely humbling. I’ve been overwhelmed by the emails, text messages, and tweets complimenting the speech. To all of you that commented, Thank You! I’m delighted to have been able to spend time educating so many people about the role of Customer Intelligence, and how it can make marketing and businesses more successful.

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Why Hulu Will (and Should) Charge for Hulu Plus

The Hulu-will-charge-you-money rumor mill is churning once again and the blogosphere has lit up with preemptively angered Hulu viewers vowing that they will never darken Hulu’s digital door again. Some call it greed, others point to nefarious pressure from ailing broadcast and cable operations, while some decry the end of a freewheeling era. They are all wrong.

Hulu charging for content is a good thing. In fact, it’s a necessary next step to get us where we need to be. Let me explain.

This comes at an awkward time, to say the least. The site’s CEO, Jason Kilar, admitted just weeks ago that the free site is profitable, taking in more than $100 million last year and on a run-rate to more than double that this year. Blunting that momentum would be foolish. But letting it run absent the burden of helping to pay for the shows it profits from would also be irresponsible, and not in a Father-knows-best “charging for content builds character” kind of irresponsible, but in a more “not taking advantage of the opportunity to take Hulu to the next level in benefit of the consumer” kind of irresponsible.

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Live Streaming from Forrester Marketing Forum 2010 - Day Two

Marketers shoot at lighthouses

While Day 1 live-streaming is done, we’ve archived video below so that it’s available to you post-event.

Day Two of the Forrester Marketing Forum goes deeper into the org structure and processes needed to be adaptive. Morning keynotes from Dave Frankland of Forrester and Tom Boyles, Senior Vice President at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, focus on the theme of “Know Thy Customer” – specifically how marketers make sense of customer data in order to deliver great experiences. Then up, it’s Josh Bernoff and Augie Ray to unveil Forrester’s new Peer Influence Analysis in the keynote “Energizing Word of Mouth through Social Media”. Afternoon track sessions and guest executive forums dive deeper into the best practices and case studies of adaptive marketing. Thanks to all of you who have Tweeted, posted pictures, and, in general, kept up a lively online conversation!

Today's Live Stream
8:30 a.m.-8:40 a.m. PST

Day Two Opening Remarks
Carlton Doty
, Vice President, Research Director, Forrester
Christine Overby
, Vice President, Role Manager - Interactive Marketing, Forrester

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The Data Digest: Brand Attitudes Of Online African Americans

In general, online African Americans are less well-off and spend less while shopping online  compared with other online consumers. However, several factors point to the opportunity of further engaging with this group. Our Technographics® research shows that African American online users are much less annoyed by the amount of advertising today compared with online users overall: 60% of the US online population agree that they are annoyed by advertising, versus only 39% of online African Americans. Furthermore, ads inform the purchase decisions that online African Americans make: Nearly twice as many African American online users (27%) as overall online users (15%) agree that ads help them decide what to buy.

Furthermore, 24% of online African Americans recognize that owning the best brand is important to them, compared with only 16% of all US online consumers. Therefore, brand reputation is a much bigger influencer in their purchase decision process.