Marketers Should Cut Ad Budgets To Thrive In The Age Of The Customer

At least once a week I get a client inquiry wondering what is "the next big thing in interactive marketing," seeking to identify what will out-tweet Twitter or out Goog Google.  Well, in his new report, Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer, my colleague Josh Bernoff articulates what is next for all businesses: A disruptive shift, where the power of customers means that firms must focus on the customer now more than any other strategic imperative.  In fact, the only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption — an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers. In this age, companies that thrive, like Best Buy, IBM, and Amazon, are those that tilt their budgets toward customer knowledge and relationships.

See Josh's post Welcome To The Age Of The Customer: Invest Accordingly for detail on how the Age of the Customer disrupts established competitive strategy.

The zinger in this report for interactive marketers is to: Prioritize word of mouth over mouthing off. Cut your ad budget by at least 10%, and spend the money on connections that have a multiplier effect like social, devices, and content. Ads are far more effective when customers are primed to believe them.

This means that interactive marketing of the future is really focused on interactivity -- not just on pushing out marketing messages through digital channels.  Three ways to get started creating more interactive marketing relationships:

Read more

What I Learned In Singapore About The State Of Digital Marketing, And What YOU Can Do About It

I am back stateside after last week’s trip to Singapore for Microsoft’s audience targeting event, and I’m still recovering. Not only am I (slowly, painfully) readjusting to this time zone, I’m still processing everything I saw, experienced, and learned about the digital marketing ecosystem in Asia.

The abbreviated version for digital marketers with an Asian presence: There’s plenty of opportunity but lots of work to be done.  

I was fortunate enough to meet with several agency folks while there – from Omnicom (OMG, Annalect), Publicis (Zenith), and WPP (MEC). And I was struck by two overarching themes:

  1. Agencies want their clients to broaden the scope of their digital marketing endeavors – trying new audience targeting methods like retargeting and behavioral targeting, upgrading their approach to interactive measurement by choosing the right metrics and moving beyond last click attribution, investing more heavily in creative development to better match creative messaging to audience segment. But they are perhaps more conservative than their stateside counterparts when it comes to pushing for change.
  2. Their clients aren’t doing much to help them change the status quo. I heard about click-based measurement, 2-3 week campaigns that leave little time for optimization and meaningful learnings, and, overall, sub-optimal investments in digital relative to traditional media.
Read more

The Art Of Listening

"It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen" - Oliver Wendell Holmes

I had the privilege of wisdom to listen to many individuals from various B2B and B2C companies last week at the Forrester IT Forum in Las Vegas. One of my favorite aspects of my new analyst job here at Forrester is to meet with tech marketers and hear about the creative ways many of them are using social media to deliver customer value. The individuals I had the pleasure to meet at IT Forum last week certainly did not disappoint, and these discussions were the highlights of my time spent in lovely downtown Las Vegas (insert sarcastic tone here for I am not a big fan of Las Vegas).   

A few key takeaways I had from IT Forum were the following: 1) The lines that once divided B2C and B2B are beginning to blur; 2) Companies are looking for new and improved ways to obtain deeper, more meaningful engagements with customers; and 3) Social media continues to be an area of focus for many companies, albeit many are looking for more effective B2B social media channels, i.e., in addition to Facebook and Twitter.

That said, some of the research I will be conducting in the upcoming months will touch upon each of these topics. I would love to hear your thoughts on your B2B social media strategies! I am here to listen, after all ;-)

Introducing “Social Maturity”: How Social Media Transforms Companies

We've been working on a major piece of research to answer a fundamental question now affecting our clients: “How do companies change as they adopt social technologies?” Today, we’ve published the report: Accelerating Your Social Maturity: How To Move From Social Experimentation To Business Transformation, which you can also find as a new chapter in the newly updated paperback version of the Groundswell book. Staying true to the nature of the research, this was a collaborative effort involving analysts from all nineteen of the roles Forrester serves across Marketing & Strategy, IT, and the Technology Industry, but it was ultimately written to interactive marketers like you who are often on the front lines of social media for their organization.

So what did we learn? The biggest insight that came from this research is that, no matter what industry your company is in, what geographies you reside in, or what audience you’re targeting, large organizations tend to go through common stages of change as they adopt and use social technologies for business. We call this process of change “social maturity,” and we've outlined the steps to accelerate from one stage to the next. In fact, combining survey data of 95 respondents involved in social media at companies with more than 1,000 employees, interviews with more than 30 companies at all stages of maturity, and a wide range of existing research, we were able to plot each stage onto the following bell curve that reads right to left (you may recognize this model from the Diffusion Of Innovations theory):

Read more

Categories:

Windows 8 Revealed: Microsoft Transforms Windows For The Post-PC Era

In a coordinated, trans-continental series of presentations at Computex in Taipei and All Things D:9 in Palos Verdes, California, Microsoft revealed key details about the next version of its Windows operating system, code-named “Windows 8.” Windows 8 is a “reimagining” of Windows from top to bottom: new chipsets, new hardware, a new user interface, and a new application model. Microsoft has not yet announced a release date (or year) for Windows 8, but intends for Windows 8 to power everything from tablets to clamshells to desktops and larger surfaces. The next version of Windows will:

  • Run natively on system-on-a-chip (SoC) designs, including ARM-based processors.The importance of this development is hard to overstate. Windows on ARM means that Windows devices will get online faster and stay online longer. They can take on new form factors, including tablets and hardware that has yet to be invented.
  • Deliver touch-first experiences, while supporting legacy peripherals and devices. Windows 7 “supported” touch but was not “touch-first,” a distinction apparent to anyone observing the use of a Windows 7 tablet or an HP TouchSmart PC. Windows 8 works with keyboards and mice but is truly touch-first, with a redesigned start screen (no more “start” menu!) and a tile-based UI similar to Windows Phone 7.
Read more

Publisher-Side Ad Technology Continues To Garner Investment

I’ve written before on the relative dearth of investment in publisher-side ad technology – at least compared to the VC windfall recently bestowed upon buy-side start ups – but my prior complaints are quickly becoming outdated. Look no further than yesterday’s news that ad server OpenX raised $20 million to support its continuing development of a platform geared for premium digital publishers. I recently got a chance to demo the new OpenX platform and found that they are doing some interesting and useful things around the integration of exchange-based selling and audience data into the core ad serving environment. Still, normally such news wouldn’t merit a (rare) blog post from me, but the particulars of this round of funding highlight a couple broader trends that are going to deeply affect the sell-side over the next two years.

 ·         The publisher ad server wars are heating back up. DoubleClick’s DFP still dominates the enterprise ad serving market for publishers, but smaller vendors like OpenX are beginning to make inroads with up and coming publishers and in emerging advertising markets (especially in Asia). It’s going to take a lot to get a publisher to rip out the core of its business by replacing its ad server, but the pressures of managing new, complex products (e.g. audience targeting, exchange-based sales) across more channels (e.g. video, mobile, and tablets) will make this a consideration for many publishers. This trend has already hit the market as publishers have turned to specialized ad servers like Admeld and Rubicon Project (for exchange-based sales) and FreeWheel (for video).

Read more

Mobile Is Bridging The Digital And Physical Worlds: It Is Time To Invent New Product And Services

Google’s product strategists just announced the launch of Google Wallet — an NFC-based mobile payment solution. As my colleague Charlie Golvin pointed out, this is another early salvo in what will be a long and hard-fought battle to change consumers’ payment behavior and, as a potential result, the makeup of the payments landscape.

We have covered this issue in more detail in a new Forrester report “Google Wallet Is Not About Mobile Payments.” Clients can access the report here.

Given its core search business and ad-based revenue model, why would the company make that investment? Because Google’s product strategists’ focus is not on the payment itself; it’s on all of the other elements that comprise a commerce experience and the data that characterizes those elements.

Indeed, appending real-world purchase information to its treasure trove of online behavioral data will vastly increase the value of customers’ profiles and increase the rates Google can charge its advertisers. It will be a way for Google to increase its local presence. NFC is too often equated simply with payments, but Google understands that NFC tags have broad application (working like Quick Response [QR] and other 2D barcodes do today). Google can help retailers use NFC tags for in-store promotions and check-ins, augmenting the understanding of customer behavior for ad targeting.

Read more