Last week, we released our newest report about the future of TV and argued in it and the accompanying blog post that the battle for the TV is not really about TV. It’s about the future of the platform giants like Apple, Google, and Microsoft that want to add the TV to their platform ambitions. Surprising to some was our claim that Microsoft was in the lead in the US TV platform battle with its base of millions of Xbox 360 owners generating more online video views on the TV screen than viewers of any other device. Many have challenged this assertion, putting the data about current use aside and asking a good question:
Won’t Apple easily walk away with the TV business once it releases its next big thing, presumably a TV?
HubSpot has been on a tear, claiming close to 7,000 clients using its Inbound Marketing software to generate leads at the top of the funnel. Most of these clients are self-employed business owners who do their own marketing and small businesses that have a couple marketers on staff.
At its Analyst Day yesterday, HubSpot’s Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah shared some new capabilities of what HubSpot now calls All-in-One Marketing Software. The news should surprise no one, as Brian was clear when he acquired Performable last June that the company wanted to expand from top of the funnel to middle of the funnel and move further up-market to the medium-size enterprise space.
Here are a couple of my takeaways from the day:
Expanding into middle of the funnel makes perfect sense, as the B2B marketing leaders I work with who are trying to transform marketing from providers of "air cover" to drivers of demand have to drastically increase the flow of new leads into the funnel to make it worthwhile to automate the engagement of those people as they move through the funnel. When HubSpot’s SMB customers improve top-of-funnel performance, they move the demand-gen problem further down and are using tools like Eloqua and Marketo. Now these folks can have a single platform for managing the top and the middle.
You’re in for a big surprise. Microsoft is winning one of the most important battles in the digital world: The battle for the TV. The TV battle is important for reasons you already know: TV consumes more time than anything else and it generates annual revenues from $140 to $160 billion each year in the US alone.
But the stakes of the battle have risen sharply. The fight over the TV is really a fight over the next massive consumer platform that is coming up for grabs. Of platforms there are few: Google owns search, Amazon owns digital retail, Facebook owns social, and Apple owns consumer devices. Microsoft owns, well, nothing at the moment, despite its handsome revenue stream from Windows and Office.
That could change soon. Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is already the most-watched net-connected TV device in the US and soon, the world. With more than 70 million consoles in households worldwide – as many as half of them connected to the Internet, depending on the country – Microsoft can rapidly drive new video services into tens of millions of households.
Shopper marketing is going digital, providing shopper marketers with a plethora of new high-buzz technologies, devices, and platforms to communicate messaging, promotions, or content to their shoppers along their path to purchase. But with limited budgets, and such a wealth of options, which ones should they choose? To help shopper marketers prioritize their technology investments in 2012 and beyond, my colleague Cory Madigan and I evaluated 17 digital tools for using Forrester’s TechRadar™ methodology. The highlight trends reveal that:
Cool isn’t necessarily critical . . . yet. Social networking pages, interactive displays, and QR codes get a lot of attention in the marketing world, but we found that in terms of shopper marketing utility, real shoppers aren’t quite as smitten. The opportunity is there, but lack of scale, measurement, and clear value for the consumer has limited the traction of many of the more talked-about technologies in the digital shopper marketing arsenal.
The digital oldies are still the ROI goodies. When it comes to shopper utility, consumers and marketers still rely most on brand websites, content that brands create for specific retailers, and email to deliver the value they seek. Rather than being replaced by new technology, watch for these platforms to become better optimized for mobile. With mobile optimization, shopper marketers will be able to tie shoppers’ online activities at home — on a PC or tablet — to their smartphone activities while on-the-go.
How many times have you been asked, “What’s your social strategy?” As Facebook’s IPO grabs the headlines, and new social sites like Pinterest and Tumblr grab consumers’ attention, many marketers are wrestling with what brand building looks like in today’s social world. But the real question you should be asking yourself is, “How does social media change your brand strategy?”
Marketing leaders now view social media as critical for brand building. In our February 2012 Marketing Leadership Online Survey, nine out of 10 marketing leaders told us that social media is fundamentally changing how brands are being built in the 21st century. In fact, they view it as second only to search for brand building. But many are still struggling to determine how to integrate it into their marketing plans. The truth is, while social is a great new tool, it lacks the power to build a brand alone. Marketing leaders such as Coca-Cola and JetBlue recognize this and are integrating social with paid and owned media to build a 21st century brand experience. In my new report, "How Social Media Is Changing Brand Building," I identify three ways social media can help marketers harness the power of social to build their brand by 1) building a relationship to become more trusted; 2) differentiating through an emotional connection to become more remarkable; and 3) nurturing loyal fans to become more essential.
How is social changing your brand building strategy? What challenges are you facing in the social brand building world? Comment here, or join the conversation in our community of marketing leaders.
I like to think of brand building as the quest for market share and mindshare. But that journey has become a steeper hill to climb. How much steeper? On a scale of 1 to 10, I’d say it’s an 11.
Here’s why. Empowered 21st century customers have higher standards for your company and the products and services you produce. That’s what we learned in our 2012 North American Brand Performance Study. I recently talked about it in the CMO Strategy section of Advertising Age. But I’d like to provide some deeper insight into “Brand Building In The 21st Century” in this post.
To put the learning from our study in context, consider the graphic below. The strength of a brand’s position and perception in the marketplace is built on four pillars of equity: 1) credibility; 2) leadership; 3) uniqueness; and 4) relevance. As you build stronger equity across those pillars, it supports higher performance over the long haul through superior: 1) referral; 2) pricing power; and 3) preference.
This foundation of brand building still applies in the 21st century, but our analysis revealed that the pillars of brand equity have started to crack under the weight of consumers’ higher standards.