How Facebook’s IPO Could Transform Marketing

Media reports suggest that Facebook will file for an IPO this week that could value the company at $100 billion — and leave the company sitting on $10 billion in cash. I’m not a financial analyst, so I’ll leave it to Wall Street to discuss and debate that valuation. But the fact is this newfound wealth could not only allow Facebook to solve its biggest business challenges, it could also help Facebook finally achieve its longstanding goal to change how marketing works. So how should Facebook use its IPO windfall?

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Content Curation No Substitute For Content Creation

Printing Blocks“Publishing is a lot harder than it looks” -- so says Josh Sternberg over on Digiday. It’s true, so apparently brands are turning toward content curation in a bid to feed their ever-growing need for information to push to Facebook and Twitter streams.

The problem, as always, is that you get what you put in.

Unique content takes more out of the business because it gives more back to the business. (Well, it should.) If I wanted to be a content purist, I’d say that content curation is the equivalent of me turning up to a bake-off with a store-bought cake and saying “Look! I baked a cake.” Nobody’s impressed (or fooled) by me pretending I’m a cake expert having never broken an egg.

Even looking at it in more sympathetic terms for the time-poor Digital Marketer, in the age of customization most people are quite capable of curating their own information -- just the way they like it. There’s very little a brand can do to add value to the original content once curated. If I want to find healthy recipes online I can do that for myself, I don’t need to turn to a toaster brand -- as one of the article’s interviewees suggest-- for their perspective on healthy recipes (no doubt all with a strong toast bias). 

Content curation has a number of practical limitations: 

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Just Published: A Forrester Wave™ For Mobile Marketing Strategy

We’ve all seen the headlines:  2010 2011 2012 is the year of mobile!  Mobile marketing spend will outpace email search display!  Jump on the bandwagon now or else!  

. . . And while I’m bullish about mobile marketing — I better be, since it’s my primary coverage area these days — the importance of having a sound strategy and the right partners to execute often gets lost in all that hype. That’s why I’m extremely proud to have just published The Forrester Wave™: US Digital Agencies — Mobile Marketing Strategy And Execution, to help marketers identify the right agency partners to develop and build smart mobile marketing strategies that deliver real business results.

You’ll notice from the (rather long) title that I focused specifically on US-based digital agencies. Admittedly, this is a narrow view of a very wide array of service providers that help marketers create mobile programs.  However, to deliver the kind of value people expect from Forrester’s trusted Wave methodology, it was necessary to zero in on just one part of the market to ensure a level field for all players.  

Even with this focus, we screened scores of agencies for this study and ultimately ended up with nine agencies to evaluate:  AKQA, iCrossing, Ogilvy, Possible Worldwide, Razorfish, Rosetta, SapientNitro, TribalDDB, and VML. These top performing agencies were included in our evaluation because they all:

• Offer comprehensive mobile marketing services.
• Met – and mostly exceeded — a minimum revenue requirement from mobile marketing offerings.

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Snickers, Twitter, And The Problem Of Compliance

The following is a guest post by Senior Research Associate James McDavid:

When tweets from Katie Price (aka Jordan, a British glamour model) talking about the recently released Chinese GDP figures and the potential effects of large-scale quantitative easing on the liquidity of the bond markets began appearing in my Twitter stream early this week I was a little surprised. Not entirely shocked (I "accidentally" read her autobiography and she’s undoubtedly a smart cookie and a successful businesswoman) but certainly a little confused. Had her account been hacked, had she decided that what the UK really needed was a new Iron Lady and that she was up for it? A few tweets later all was revealed when Katie tweeted a picture of herself holding a chocolate bar as part of the Snickers campaign, "You’re not you when you’re hungry."

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New Analyst With The Interactive Marketing Team: Darika Ahrens

After more than seven years in marketing, media, and tech — four of which were running my own marketing and social media consultancy — I’ve landed at Forrester as an analyst serving Interactive Marketing Professionals (EMEA) based in London.

My role at Forrester will start to focus on content as content creation becomes more and more vital to the interactive marketer. Content will also apply in a multitude of ways to mobile, online video, search, and across interactive brand ecosystems.

My first report is underway and will look at online video content in your marketing. If you have anything to contribute please get in touch dahrens@forrester.co.uk. Also if you have suggestions for anything else related to the area of content drop me a line.

Three things I’d love you to do:

  1. If you’d like to speak with me, have information on a product or service, or have an idea relevant to my research areas you can Request a Briefing (simply write my name in the ‘Preferred Analyst’ box on the form) — PR contacts, this includes you!
  2. If you’re a Forrester member and would like to connect I’m now available to take Inquiries. Topics I can discuss are social media marketing, online video, community management, content strategy.
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I'm Back In NYC

I'm really pleased to announce that I've moved back to New York City. I actually started my interactive marketing career in New York almost 15 years ago, and I started my analyst career in New York nine years ago. But for the past seven years I've been plying my trade elsewhere: in London, Berlin, Vancouver, and then back in London again. Now, after half a career spent abroad, it's great to be back home.

What does this mean for my research coverage? Not much, really. I've still got the same job on the same team, and I'll still be focused on the same topics I've covered for years:

  1. Social media marketing. I've been writing about social media since 2004, and I've got no plans to stop now. Last year I published Five Ways Interactive Marketers Should Use Social Data, Social Media Marketing Metrics That Matter, and It's Time To Make Facebook Marketing Work. In 2012 I'll continue to lead our coverage of social media marketing with research on the staff and resources you need to succeed with social media, how marketers can take their social programs to the next level, and even how Facebook might justify its valuation. I'll also keep actively researching how social media can best fit into the marketing mix, most notably through an idea we call The Interactive Brand Ecosystem
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SOPA/PIPA - what really stunts the growth of the Digital Economy?

The recent furore about SOPA and PIPA has set me thinking afresh about my position on copyright ownership legislation. I myself suffer, albeit in a very small way, from the kind of pirates being targeted by the bills and regularly find my Indian classical arrangement of Silent Night being illegally sold by pirate sites in China and elsewhere.  It’s frustrating but my views on the topic are not simply to create the biggest hammer possible to crush the activity.

What really stunts growth and adoption of the Digital Economy?

There is something wider at work here beyond simply piracy. The short term view, adopted by SOPA, is to instigate moderately Draconian measures impacting the architecture of the internet. My colleague Ari Osur has written an excellent post that clearly outlines how this might affect the world of the Marketer should SOPA/PIPA transpire in its current form. 

A longer term view to the solution is that this piracy is mostly happening in emerging digital economies and that it is informally permissible until they mature.  Joe Karaganis published a seminal report on Media Piracy in 2011 which took a fresh look at the topic with many case studies taken from emerging economies. One quote which sticks out is :

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Apple Schools Textbook Publishers In Education Innovation

 At Apple’s event today in New York, Apple unveiled iBooks2, a new version of its iBooks software that is tailored to interactive textbooks, and iBooks Author, an app that makes it free and simple to create interactive textbooks for the iPad.

There are already thousands of digital textbooks available on the iPad, as well as on other devices like PCs and Barnes & Noble’s Nook Tablet. But as my colleague Annie Corbett and I have written, e-textbooks are a transitional product, accounting for only 2.8% of the $8 billion US higher education textbook market in 2010, according to the National Association of College Stores. The vast majority of digital textbooks are not very innovative; they’re essentially print replicas with digital extensions like highlighting, search, and annotation. The iPad — which now outsells Macs in schools, according to Apple — is capable of much more than what has previously been produced, and Apple hasn’t been satisfied with the status quo. Today, Apple demonstrated iBooks2, a new textbook experience for the iPad; these new textbooks can be created using iBooks Author. iBooks2 will solve two product strategy problems for publishers:

  • Production cost. Companies like Inkling are doing quite well helping publishers take their education apps to the next level. The problem is that publishers’ content creation and production processes are still optimized for print, not digital, so working with Inkling is expensive (in terms of publishers’ labor, not necessarily Inkling’s fees). So most publishers opt to create a small number of new apps and settle for digital replicas or “enhanced eBooks” of everything else.
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Ham-Handed SOPA Loses Momentum, But This Issue Isn’t Dead

So it appears that the progress of SOPA and PIPA is grinding to a halt, largely due to the massive online backlash inflamed by the influential new generation of digitally focused companies like Google, Amazon.com, and Facebook.  For interactive marketers, this is a good thing.  But protecting content creators from online piracy is fundamentally important and the movement is funded by deep pockets.  If SOPA and PIPA are dead in their current incarnations, they’re certain to resurface in another form.  The new question for interactive marketers and the online community is whether that new form will be more realistic, fair, and effective in terms of enforcement and compliance.

As a refresher, the twin online anti-piracy bills in the U.S. legislature sought to give copyright holders and U.S. attorneys general the power to stop foreign-based websites from linking to or displaying copyrighted content like movies and music without permission.  But the bills are extremely far-reaching and complicated and could potentially up-end the operations of any website that allows users to post content or has links to other sites – which is basically every site out there.

Why are SOPA and PIPA bad news for marketers?  They would potentially:

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How Privacy Legislation Will Change The Ad Network/Exchange Paradigm -- Pulling Back The Curtain Of Oz

In my recent paper titled Privacy Laws Force Rich Dialogue with Customers I outlined some of the looming legal directives that will change the targeting dialogue between brands and consumers and how the industry should respond. 

The ad network ecosystem will ultimately be forced the pull back the curtain of Oz to reveal to customers the machines and levers behind targeting technology. As illustrated in my paper, the predominant approaches are full targeting vesus opt out, but this is not enough choice. Segmentation strategies and targeting techniques used by ad tools are hidden within engines and will need to be surfaced to customers so that they may verify, modify, and importantly play with them.

This isn’t easy, however, as the mathematical vernacular of targeting technology with confusing terms such as graphs, nodes, and vectors are unintelligible to most. Metaphors will be needed to distill the complexity for customers. One of the approaches to take will be similar to how optometrists work by showing the customer different "lenses" (perceptions) held about them and subsequently allowing them to choose. These "lenses" may not just be rich segmentation concepts but will include social and individual assumptions too.

Where does this transparency and explanation rationale take us?

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