Efficient Frontier Announces Integrated Search And Display Platform

Efficient Frontier announced last week its official entry into display advertising with a platform that integrates biddable display with search marketing, real-time bidding capabilities, and the Efficient Frontier trademark portfolio approach to optimization that uses predictive modeling to forecast performance outcomes.

I think this certainly indicates further momentum into the world of biddable display media, and eventually biddable media in all formats. See more about Forrester's thoughts on dynamic media buying and what it will mean for media buying on and offline in the report, Demystifying the DSP

I think the platform from Efficient Frontier addresses a much needed combination -- that of paid search and biddable display media. But I also think that this platform, competing ones -- like those developed by Vivaki -- and demand-side platforms are in “version 1.” Not a bad place to be at the early stage of an emerging opportunity. But I do expect that all of these tools will refine over the next two years. I think they will continue to add data sources, more inventory, additional and easier to use functionality, better metrics, and better reporting. But v.2 will develop only after advertisers begin testing dynamic media buying and can show technology players what additional depth and breadth they need.   

Microsoft's KIN -- Adding Fun To My Microsoft Phone

I've just had the chance in the past few hours to really play with the device. I find myself smiling each time a new SMS bubble pops up. I love it. I also like seeing my friends' faces on my phone. I love being able to navigate my content and messages via my friends. Loved how easy it was to set up my email, Facebook, and Twitter. Packaging rocks ... and is recyclable. What is subtle in this device, in my opinion, is how intuitive the UI is. The UI looks and feels similar to others I have seen, but I was able to pick up this phone and use it without reading the instructions.

My colleague Charles Golvin will provide a more in-depth analysis of the device itself.

From a social networking/media perspective, the KIN is a good start, but I hope to see more with upcoming releases, especially around helping people build their social graph. I don't put this burden on Microsoft alone, but on the industry and all handset manufacturers. The content we create needs more meta data or labels. We need logic to mesh this content together and navigate through it. It's great that I can navigate to my friends' status and messages through my contacts (and KIN's UI is a lot of fun). I also want to navigate through my photos and location. Location should be table stakes for photo/status/review (restaurant/bar) content and the logic shouldn't flow in just one direction. Based on my location (simple location or map), I want to see who is nearby or what restaurants my friends liked. Navigating through my friends, I want to see what restaurants they liked. I want to group photos by location. I want to group photos by friends. These are just a few examples. With every product and service developed, one can't have everything. There are cost, time and design trade-offs. I completely understand that the KIN and DROID and others couldn't get everything done in v1.0. I look forward to the next version.

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Back In The Swing Of Things

After being out on maternity leave for the past 12 weeks, I am officially back in the office and jumping into some great new projects. One of the projects I’m most excited about is our annual online youth survey for our Technographics product. Each year, we survey online respondents ages 12 to 17 to get their take on everything from their mobile usage to how they want to interact with companies. Recently, Pew Research Center put out a report on its youth studythat had some interesting points around mobile usage. Most of its findings were in line with our own data. For example, we’ve found that:

  • Seventy-nine percent of youth ages 12 to 17 have a cell phone, up from 73% in 2008. So when your kid comes home and says, “Mom, I need a cell phone. EVERYONE has one!” he’s not that far off from the truth!
  • It’s all about texting. While only a quarter of teens are browsing the mobile Internet, 84% are texting at least monthly.

 

These are only some of the interesting points we have nestled in our data. I personally love working with this age group and examining how they feel about the world around them. Which technologies can’t they live without and which ones do they ignore and why? How do they expect the companies they love to engage them via social media? How do they want to receive advertising? The list goes on and on (in fact, you can search our survey topics here) . . .

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Forrester’s 2010 Voice Of The Customer Award

Our research has shown that effectively collecting, analyzing, and acting on customer feedback is critical to successful customer experience efforts. That's why we created Forrester's annual Voice Of The Customer Award to recognize companies that are leading the way in this area.

This year's Award winners will be announced at Forrester's Customer Experience Forum in New York on June 29th.

We will collect nominations through Friday, June 4th.

Any company that wants to have their Voice of the Customer programs considered for the award should complete the online nomination form. Companies can also submit an additional PowerPoint presentation with up to five slides to voc@forrester.com.

Forrester analysts will grade each nomination based on four criteria: business value to the organization, positive impact on customer experience, innovative approach, and potential for other companies to repeat the practice. We may select more than one winner based on the strength of the submissions.

We received dozens of strong submissions last year, including those of last year's three winners. We look forward to seeing how companies have raised the bar since then.

For more information, please read the FAQs or email voc@forrester.com.

Royal Bank Of Canada, Bank Of America, And Citibank Top Forrester Public Bank Rankings In 2010

Without a doubt, the most common question Forrester analysts get are questions around industry best practices. To help answer that question, Forrester annually ranks the top banks in Canada and the US on how well they meet the goal of online acquisition. In 2010, we ranked six banks in the US and six in Canada to answer the best practice question. In 2010, Royal Bank of Canada topped our Canadian ranking and Bank of America and Citibank shared the top spot in the US.

Overall, we are finding that bank Web sites are doing a better job of meeting the needs of financial service shoppers. Online applications are getting better especially at firms like Citibank. On the merchandising side, Royal Bank of Canada has made huge strides via a recent set of redesigns of the content portion of their Web site.

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When Ads Become Content

I enjoyed listening to Carol Bartz, the CEO of Yahoo!, who was in London last week to address the European press and analysts. She’s smart, focused and entertaining – a rarer combination than it should be. But one thing in particular struck me. When she was asked about the future of online advertising, she commented that in the future, “ads should be as interesting as the content.”

A truism? Perhaps, but one that still eludes many advertisers off- or online. And while my usual focus is on the content side of media, let me extend my brief a little to comment on some current ad campaigns, bearing in mind Bartz’s words. Excuse the non-scientific survey, but three campaigns I’ve watched in the past week have stuck in my mind.

John Lewis’ lengthy TV ad has been extensively written about  - with several commenters noting its uncanny ability to make them cry. It’s all about brand positioning, but it’s a beautifully crafted bit of content that bears repeated viewing.  In my household (like many others in the blogosphere) this is a rare example of a TV ad that viewers actually hope will be shown. In essence it’s not revolutionary, but it’s hugely effective (and affecting). Check it out here.

I saw it on TV last week when in a cruel twist it was shown before the corresponding new campaign from Marks and Spencer, its erstwhile competitor as the UK shopper’s best-loved retailer.  But what a terrible ad (no link - unsurprisingly it has not been uploaded to YouTube). Uninspiring, unaspirational, humdrum and failing to convey anything great about the M&S brand. Its message? Something about shopping at M&S if you can’t be bothered to cook. That’s what I recall, anyway. Not the finest call to action I’ve ever come across.

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Forrester Consumer Product Strategy Podcast Series: Find Your Popcorn

Regular readers of the Consumer Product Strategy blog will know that we put a lot of store in the value of product innovation for media companies in the digital age. We’re taking this theme further with our latest initiative, the Forrester CPS podcast ‘Find Your Popcorn’, and in turn experimenting with some of our own research product innovation.

Over the coming month, CPS media analyst Nick Thomas will be recording podcast episodes and posting on the ‘Find Your Popcorn’ theme. This research theme investigates new ways to generate revenue from content in the digital age and the kinds of new product models that can and should be developed. It is essential information for product strategists at media companies and technology companies alike.

Throughout the ‘Find Your Popcorn’ series, our intention is to expose the report writing process to the external marketplace and to give you, the audience, the opportunity to participate in the discussion and debate. So over the coming weeks, we will be experimenting with different ways of using the podcast format and we encourage you to give us feedback both on the content and the deliverable itself.

Forrester clients will additionally get an exclusive full-length video deliverable to accompany the final report.

The first ‘Find Your Popcorn’ episode is already live and can be viewed here.

And if you want to get this and future episodes delivered straight to your iPhone or iPod you can subscribe at iTunes here.

If you prefer you can watch the podcast series directly on YouTube here.

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Customer Satisfaction Is More Than Tracking Numbers

For a track session at Forrester's Marketing Forum at the end of April, I dived into the topic of customer satisfaction. For market researchers looking to set up a customer satisfaction (CSAT) study, much guidance is available. However, it also became clear to me why, despite all this advice, many customer satisfaction projects fail.

Most of the information I found -- or the conversations I had, for that matter -- were around the ‘science’ part of CSAT studies: the methodology and set-up. There are many discussions online about questions like which scale to use, which questions to ask (or not), whether a company should focus on relational versus transactional measurement, or if it's better to conduct a customized CSAT project or use an established method like Net Promoter.

However, in my conversations with market researchers, I found that the success of CSAT projects isn't based as much on science -- although a sound and repeatable set-up doesn't hurt -- as much as it is on ‘art.’ The art lies in understanding the company’s business issues; translating these into a well-structured questionnaire; finding the drivers for success; and later, when the results are in, presenting the results in an actionable format.

Any customer satisfaction project that focuses on numbers misses out on the 'art' element of CSAT. Of course, using a standardized methodology helps the company benchmark itself against its competitors. But what does it mean when 80% of your clients are satisfied? The organization will look at this number and want to drive it up, without any understanding of what the impact on the bottom line will be when the percentage of satisfied customers increases from 80% to 82%.

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US Banks And Canadian Banks Under The Web Site User Experience Review Microscope

I’m quite pleased to announce that we just published two reports that grade the user experience at major US banks and major Canadian banks, respectively.  What makes these reports special is that our colleagues who serve the eBusiness role published their own complementary reports on the same day. You can see their US report here and their Canadian report here.

Here’s some background: For several years Forrester has published annual reports that ranked public-facing bank sites from the perspective of an eBusiness professional. This year our customer experience research team collaborated with our eBusiness research team to create our own grading reports tailored to the unique needs of customer experience professionals. The result is a stereoscopic view of 12 banks (six in each country) from the different perspectives of two professional roles that work closely together in real life.

The reports from the customer experience team dive deep into user experience issues. They grade how well customers can accomplish their goals on bank sites. The reports from the eBusiness team summarize some of these findings and add in a competitive benchmark of bank content and functionality.

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Continental Airlines Merges With United -- The Proud Bird Soars Into The Friendly Skies

On Monday, May 3, two of the “founding fathers” of the US airline industry, Chicago, Illinois-based United Airlines (it of the iconic ad slogan, “Fly The Friendly Skies”) announced a "merger of equals" with Houston, Texas-based Continental Airlines (once known as the “Proud Bird With The Golden Tail”). The combined airline will form, at least for the time being, the world’s largest airline. At the time the merger is expected to close (that’s currently estimated to take place in Q4 2010), the “new” United will:

  • Have a combined fleet of 692 mainline aircraft (as of 3/31/2010)
  • Operate 10 hubs: Newark Liberty (EWR), Washington Dulles (IAD), Cleveland (CLE), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Houston George Bush Intercontinental (IAH), Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO), Tokyo Narita (NRT), and Guam (GUM).
  • Account for about 21% of the US available seat miles – a key airline industry capacity metric – and about 7% of global capacity.

 

Though the merged airline will keep the United (UA) name, it will use Continental’s livery and logo (CO). I’ve got to admit: Personally, I prefer UA’s “tulip” logo and livery to that of CO’s (though I don’t think anyone’s bought a ticket based on an airline’s paint job since Braniff’s “end of the plain plane” campaign).

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