In my new report, "Western European Social Media Marketing Forecast, 2012 To 2017," I'm exploring some of the drivers and inhibitors that will impact social media marketing spending in Europe over the next 5 years. From growing adoption amongst consumers and ever more devices integrating with social networks, to the uncertainty ushered in by the coming European data privacy legislation, I'll look at how these factors will influence the willingness of marketers to spend on social media marketing.
The good news is despite the economic headwinds across Europe, spending on social media marketing is still forecast to rise ― from €1.4 billion in 2012 to reach €3.2 billion in 2017, reflecting a 17.6% compound annual growth rate (CAGR). As social media marketing in Europe heads towards maturity, the pace of growth slows somewhat but the trend continues upwards. We're also forecasting the percentage of online users who are present on social networks in Europe to continue to rise, from 63% in 2013 to more than 70% by 2017, so if you thought social had already reached a point of saturation, think again.
We are in the midst of a mobile mind shift. This is not just about "mobile first" or apps. This is a complete change in the psychology of consumers.
In a change in behavior that can only be called Pavlovian, people with smart mobile devices request information and receive service. What's the weather? That's the weather. Where's the nearest Gelato shop? There it is. Does this laptop have good ratings? Sure it does. What are my friends up to on Facebook? Each request cements the idea that smartphone has everything you need. As a result, consumer start by requesting, then expecting, and then demanding that companies give them instant service. This is the mobile mind shift:
The expectation that any desired information or service is available, on any appropriate device, in context, at your moment of need.
But how far along are people on this shift? Have your customers made the shift? How many of them are demanding mobile utility?
I am probably one of the few individuals who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and only heads to Los Angeles during Forrester's annual Marketing Leadership Forum. I recently had the opportunity to visit Los Angeles for the second time and, just like last year, did not venture too far from my hotel. I have yet to experience the true LA "scene" or even get a glimpse of an actor, musician or sports star! But the highlight of my annual trip to LA is having the opportunity to completely immerse myself in various discussions with fellow marketers (yes, I still consider myself a marketer at heart!). Who needs to see Ozzy Osbourne'sJessica Simpson's mansion in Beverly Hills when I get to mingle with the real "stars" who are the clients, attendees, vendors and Forrester employees who participate in the Marketing Leadership Forum with such passion?
Last week was full of news on wearable devices: First the report from The Wall Street Journal that Microsoft is fabricating a smart watch (whether it’s just a prototype or an actual product is not confirmed); then Google’s release of guidelines for developers building apps (known as “Glassware”) for Glass; followed by the news on Wednesday that Google will start shipping Glass units to participants in its Explorers program.
To put these stories in perspective, Glass is a much, much more important story than any smart watch story — whether that watch is made by Microsoft, Samsung, or even Apple. Smart watches could enable new “glanceable” experiences that we haven’t had on other devices, enhanced by body-generated data, like the Basis smartwatch does today. But they won’t fundamentally disrupt social norms in the way that Glass will. At best, they’ll reinforce existing ecosystems for smartphones — i.e., iPhone buyers might buy an iWatch; an iWatch might displace some phone usage, but wouldn’t replace a phone altogether.
As I write this, I am sitting in Boston’s Logan airport surrounded by healthy- but somber-looking people clad in the yellow and blue of the official jersey of the Boston Marathon. Some are wearing their medals, some are walking with a bit of a limp. All of them are on the phone with their loved ones, telling their stories of survival. I was not one of them, I wasn’t even down in the city – my favorite place to watch the historic marathon is at the 25 kilometer mark, miles away from the explosions. But I feel for them, I feel with them, and for a brief moment, we are all brothers and sisters. With each phone call, text, email, or tweet from friends and associates from around the world – especially those from Madrid and London who feel this solidarity especially deeply – I am reminded that we are better than this, we will be better than this.
How will we be better than this? In the days and months to come we will do what the best of us always do, we will support each other and work to build a better society than the one that permitted this. But what about the long run? Given my role – I am not a first responder, I was not on the front lines, the best I could do was offer my house to marathon-running friends as a place to regroup, refuel, and just be surrounded by good feelings for a while before beginning a long drive home – I am best able to help in the long run rather than the short run.
AppGratis is a French app promotion and discovery platform startup that was recently ejected from the App Store on the grounds that it violated Apple’s developer T&Cs. Back in September 2012, Apple tweaked its developer guidelines, adding a clause that states: “Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected.”
Simon Dawlat, the CEO of AppGratis, shares his vision in great detail here and explains why he thinks the ban is totally unfair. Even France’s digital industry minister, Fleur Pellerin, has spoken up in support of AppGratis, describing Apple’s actions as ”extremely brutal, unilateral, and without explanation,” and calling on Cupertino to “behave ethically.“ Natasha Lomas at TechCrunch fairly and exhaustively summarizes the whole story here.
Without going into the legal details here, one may argue that there is a blurring of the line between app discovery and app promotion. I personally viewed AppGratis as a traffic booster based on curated app discovery experiences. I think it definitely helped gain some initial visibility in app stores, but I think app developers and publishers still needed to measure the customer lifetime value and make sure their audiences would stay engaged.
Anyway, the AppGratis controversy highlights the growing dependency from publishers and developers to Apple and Google in the app economy.
Recently we described an idea called the database of affinity: A catalogue of people’s tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviors on sites like Facebook and Twitter. Why are we so excited about this idea? Because if Facebook or Twitter or some other company can effectively harness the data from all the likes and shares and votes and reviews they record, they could bring untold rigor, discipline, and success to brand advertising.
But exploiting the database of affinity won’t be easy. Any company hoping to turn affinity data into something marketers can use will need three things:
Lots of affinity data from lots of sources. The raw data required to build a functional database of affinity doesn’t live in just one place. Facebook controls the most "like" data, recording more than 80 billion per month at last check. But Twitter records more "talking" than anyone else (1.5 billion tweets per month); Amazon collects the most reviews (well over 6 million per month); and Google’s YouTube and Google Display Network have data on how a billion people prefer to spend their time.
The ability to bring meaning to that data. It’s easy to draw simple conclusions from affinity data: If you ‘like’ snowboarding you might like to see an ad for energy drinks. But the real value in affinity data won’t be unlocked until we can find hidden combinations of affinity that work for marketing. That’ll require technologies and teams that can do some serious data analysis — as well as a real-time feedback loop to determine whether people really are interested in the ads targeted to them based on such complex assumptions.
Engaging with perpetually connected customers is something you can't fake, and when you engage, you create expectations that need to be met. This is one of the key messages Yannick Grecourt, Head of Strategy and Marketing at Deutsche Bank Belgium, shared with me when I talked to him recently in preparation for his speech at our Forrester Forum for Marketing Leaders EMEA.
Q: How does Deutsche Bank Belgium prioritize the most important channels for reaching customers?
A: Confronted with remarks on why other banks were developing new initiatives and we were not, we were forced to share our direction with all the internal divisions explaining the prioritization process. We decided to divide all channels into two categories: the managed and integrated channels, and the ‘non-integrated’ channels, and we used the customer journey to define all possible touch points. For the integrated category, the most important elements are alignment and relevancy, whereas for the non-integrated the judgment call is made based on the impact to the integrated channels.
Q: How do digital channels improve the advisor/client relationship?
A: A key impact of the financial crisis was the increasing involvement of clients in the management of their portfolio. As a consequence, clients were in search of more frequent contact but in a more and more digitalized environment. The development of a new advisory approach included a new online platform that has allowed us to align the tools we provide to our clients with the tools we use internally. As a matter of fact, our clients are sharing the same tools and information as our advisors do. Over time, clients are also getting used to how important/urgent a message is depending on the channel.
A few weeks ago, my dad and I were talking about the policy on airplanes to turn off all devices from the time the door closes until the plane has reached 10,000 feet.
My point: I don’t have a problem powering down for 15 or 20 minutes. It’s when we get delayed on the tarmac for an hour or two that I get antsy, though lately the pilots seem to let you reconnect while you wait for take-off.
His point: “I don’t see why people feel the need to be connected all the time anyway.”
A predictable response based on generational differences? Perhaps. But what made it a particularly interesting comment is that he said it while using his iPhone to find the least traffic-ridden route home to CT from NJ.
This, then, is the mobile mind shift: The expectation that the info you need is available whenever you need it on any appropriate device — without having to make a conscious effort to stop what you’re doing, decide which device to use, turn it on, scroll, click, etc., and eventually find what you’re looking for. You want to know what the traffic’s like? Here’s the map. You want a table for dinner? Reserved. You want to know the weather? Done.
The result is a customer with extremely high expectations that you must be ready to meet, or risk irrelevance. The key to serving these customers will be to shorten the distance between what they want and what they get; to refocus your marketing efforts to deliver utility at speed; to make your customers’ lives better rather than just making your messaging better.
When I talk to marketing executives about the Smart Body, Smart World paradigm — how sensor-laden devices like wearables give us access to new domains of information and what we can do with that information — they always bring up the movie Minority Report.
The 2002 sci-fi crime thriller has become the reference point people imagine when they think about the future of advertising: specifically, the scene in which Jon Anderton (Tom Cruise) walks through the mall and billboards show him ads based on his mental state (stressed out) and context (on a journey).
This depiction of the future makes sense if you take the status quo of advertising in 2002 — delivering messages via screens to acquire new customers and persuade them to try your product — and bolt on new technology like biometric scanning. There are multiple examples of marketers today doing simplified versions of this, using billboards that adapt content based on gender and age.
A Dumb Vision Of The Smart Future
But this is a pretty dumb vision of the “smart” future. Smarter marketing goes far beyond advertising.