Summer 2011 Skips The Dog Day Doldrums

In my part of the country — as in many others — it was a very hot and stormy summer. And beyond the weather, I haven't seen the traditional late July and August slow period. Much of my summer has been spent working on the upcoming Web Analytics Wave report. While I've been focused on research, the analytics community apparently has had too much to do and has continued moving along at full speed.

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TV Upfront Deals Hold Firm As Stock Market Rocks

Last week’s financial market roller coaster is so far not affecting fall TV upfront buys, which are due to convert to orders in late August/early September. MediaPost reports that media agency leaders aren’t seeing any signs of adjustments to the TV upfront buys and expect Q4 to remain strong despite economic uncertainty. Steve Lanzano, president/CEO of the TV station association TVB says, “Back-to-school consumer spending should provide a good barometer for retail spending in the upcoming holiday season . . . But at this time it is not expected that planned advertising spending will be affected."

This attention to the TV market reflects its continued advertising power position. Despite frequent proclamations of TV’s demise, the fall 2011 TV upfronts showed that it remains the go-to media for many advertisers. What is new, though, are signs that nascent TV and digital convergence is now being led by the ad sellers themselves. TV networks like Fox and The CW are following their consumers to multiscreen viewing by offering integrated video ad deals that span on-air and online. What does this mean for marketers? To stay connected with their consumers, marketers must get off of the couch and out of the living room to reach consumers through and beyond linear TV programming. Check out my report “The 2011 TV Advertising Upfronts Preview Convergence Of TV And Digital” to learn more about how these trends will affect brand marketers. 

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C3 Gets An Impressive Start As It Evolves From Idea To Startup

Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with the C3 leadership team in their San Mateo, CA, headquarters. Many of you may not be familiar with C3, as they have been operating in stealth mode for the past few years, working with industry thought leaders, partners and customers to build out their very robust energy resource management software platform. "Monitor, mitigate and monetize your energy and resources" is the company's tag line.

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Executive Q&A: Customer Experience Ecosystem Mapping

I’ve just published a new report in response to all the great questions I’ve been getting about the customer experience ecosystem and the process of ecosystem mapping. Here are a couple of the questions (and answers!) from the report.

What is ecosystem mapping?

Ecosystem mapping is a collaborative process that helps companies identify the set of complex interdependencies that shape all of their interactions with customers. Typically conducted in a workshop setting, teams identify and document the people, processes, policies, and technologies that create the customer experience. This includes those parts of the ecosystem that are in plain view of customers as well as those parts that influence the customer experience from behind the scenes.

What benefits should companies expect to get out of ecosystem mapping?

Companies that undertake ecosystem mapping exercises can expect multiple benefits, including:

  • Detailed knowledge of customers’ journeys. When customers and frontline staff join ecosystem mapping workshops, teams can construct a detailed picture of what customers go through when they interact with their company. More often than not, teams identify interactions that frustrate customers as well as opportunities where companies could interact with customers, but don’t.
  • Greater understanding of the interdependencies within the ecosystem. Ecosystem mapping helps teams identify previously hidden people, processes, policies, and technologies — and the customer interactions they influence.
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Web GRPs Are A Band-Aid Solution For Cross-Platform Ads

In the wake of Nielsen’s and Facebook’s announcement of a new “Web GRP” metric, there has been some exciting debate over whether GRPs will be good for the advertising industry as a whole. Dave Morgan made some excellent points in Mediapost about why GRPs will ultimately be good for online advertisers. However, I respectfully disagree that web GRPs are a step forward for effective cross-platform measurement. 

Although it is true that TV gets the lion’s share of marketers’ budgets, that doesn’t necessarily mean that online measurement should be retrofitted to make “apples to apples” comparisons. On the contrary, marketers are becoming more accustomed to the granular level of metrics and accountability online media offers and will not be content to keep TV GRPs and get a “best fit” measurement of GRPs online. Even if the industry isn’t giving up on GRPs as TV currency, TV networks like CBS are moving away from GRPs as the standard and would like to get beyond age and sex if possible. As the online video market matures and over-the-top video consumption grows, I believe marketers will begin to see the discrepancy in accuracy between the ads they buy on a prime-time show on broadcast and the ads they buy that are delivered via a YouTube, Netflix, or Hulu app on a connected TV. 

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Tesco’s Homeplus Innovates With Agile Commerce

When I first saw the video below of how Tesco’s Korean subsidiary Homeplus had tested a "virtual supermarket" in Seoul’s Hangangjin subway station I was impressed with the customer-centric use of mobile technology to innovate the shopping experience. The test included using basic posters with QR codes to enable the customer to create an order for delivery while on their way home.

Now we have learned that Homeplus is extending the trial to other Seoul subway stations next month with a view to rolling the format out across South Korea within two years.

What makes this possible? First and foremost an investment in a services-oriented architecture that Tesco began years ago, along with a consumer market well adapted to using mobile technology in their day-to-day life, and an operational capability to pick the items and faciliate delivery. It is intriguing to see how this test paints a future where physical displays – be they printed or digital – can be used to enhance the cross-touchpoint research, purchase, and service. Ideally these need to be highly integrated to the commerce platform to support real-time price, inventory availability, promotion, and content updates that enable full cross touch-point commerce, with this yet another interface to support shopping.

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The Data Digest: Smartphone Owners’ Smart Travel Management

Do you remember the last trip that you took? In this season, chances are that it was only last week or last month. As much as we love to travel, ideally for leisure, we are often overwhelmed by all the planning and coordination that are involved in the process — flights, car rentals, lodging, just to begin with. And if you are truly a planner, you want to add the places to dine, events to attend, and attractions to stop by to the itinerary.

Luckily, we are in the technology-centric era. We have websites, software, and devices that help us make life easier. Two companies that I recently came across, TripIt and Traxo, are designed to take care of travelers’ concerns. Much like TripIt, Traxo aims to simplifying travelers' lives by aggregating all of their travel information in one place, but it does so in a more elegant auto-pull manner versus an email push one. Traxo users just need to link their travel accounts to Traxo via a one-time, upfront process, and then Traxo automatically detects all of their trips, miles, and points and intelligently combines them into a single travel dashboard. It also allows members to share experiences with friends and possibly discover where they might have an overlapping trip with another.

But what makes this really interesting is that these services are available for smartphones. In his recent Forrester report “Why Smartphones Will Become One Of Travel’s Two Most Important Touchpoints”, my colleague Henry Harteveldt points out that “travelers are up to three times more likely than all US adults to have a smartphone.” 

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We're Hiring! Analyst Serving eBusiness and Channel Strategy, Amsterdam

After six years at Forrester, Alexander Hesse has decided to leave Forrester to take on a new challenge in a different field. It's always a sad day when you lose a respected colleague and I wish Alex the very best.

We're looking for a new senior analyst to join our eBusiness and channel strategy team, preferably based in Amsterdam. We're looking for someone with strong views on eBusiness and channel strategy, an analytical mind, and experience of the complexities of retail financial services and of different European markets to help our clients make the right business decisions and shape their firms' strategies. 

If this sounds like you, or like someone you know, please contact me at bensor@forrester.com or you can apply directly from the job description.

New Reports On Social Media Usage By BT Buyers: Europe Is Active And Age Matters

This week, Forrester finally published my (Peter O'Neill here) reports based on its Q1 2011 US And European B2B Social Technographics® Online Survey For Business Technology Buyers, which marks the third year we've conducted this survey. These are the reports promised in my blog back on July 1st  and they complement my colleague Kim Celestre’s insightful review of the worldwide numbers by examining the European data in more detail, as well as investigating that common adage cited by many tech marketers: “Most of the social media behavior is due to younger buyers, and they're not involved in BT decision-making.”

The European data is clear evidence that social is now routine for European tech buyers, and this is the headline that has been passed around the twittersphere all week now. As I write in the Recommendations section:

FIRST, VENDORS MUST LISTEN……AND BE SEEN…     …TO BE HEARD

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CXM Solutions Visible On The Not-So-Distant Horizon

Customer experience management (CXM) solutions are emerging on the eBusiness technology solution horizon. These solutions promise to enable businesses to manage and optimize the customer experience across customer touchpoints through a combination of content management, search, customer targeting, analytics, personalization, and optimization capabilities. As digital experiences have grown more complex and the need to target and personalize the customer experience across the Web, mobile, contact center, and stores or branches becomes more and more critical, siloed systems that limit the eBusiness & Channel Strategy capability are failing to keep up. My latest report looks at the emergence of these solutions and how they are quickly evolving to support:

  • Leveraging cross-channel data for targeted offers. New CXM technologies bring the merchant, site manager, and marketer together with business rules to provide targeted and personalized offers to the customer across touchpoints including the call center. Leveraging web and offline advertising, traffic, sales, and CRM data to enable improved targeting of the customer.
  • Personalized experiences across touchpoints. As customer touchpoints proliferate, screen size shrinks, and consumers are increasingly distracted, CXM solutions will incorporate personalization tools to drive product recommendations, offers, and content to drive conversion across channels in a personalized, automated, and scalable fashion.
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