Avoid The Visual Clutter And Go For In-Stream Audio Advertising

David Bowie photographIn 2002, the zeitgeist orchestrator David Bowie  opined, “Music itself is going to become like running water or electricity.” A few years later, in 2005, the futurists Gerd Leonhard and Dave Kusek proposed “music as water” in their industry-shaking book, The Future of Music (A Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution).

The metaphor was simple — music would flow on demand, like a utility, to people's home hi-fis and portable music players. Subscription access to "all" music was the approach that ultimately ended up with no more ownership of physical or even digital copies; CDs, mp3s, and the other ground-bound trinkets would no longer be necessary. Even in my own behavior, I see this change — where once I’d spend time ripping my CDs and loading up my 160GB iPod, now I simply curate music, like my Boxing playlist, in the cloud via Spotify.

Eleven years later, Bowie’s prediction is coming true and streaming is progressing at speed. In metropolitan Argentina 1 in 3 consumers are listening to streaming music - evenly split between mobile and computers (desktop, laptop, tablet). In France 15% of those we surveyed streamed on a computer but a whopping 27% used mobile. In fact this trend to streaming via mobile is likely to be one that will continue worldwide and today in metropolitan regions of Hong Kong and Mexico, as well as South Korea mobile has already considerably overtaken computers as the preferred listening method.

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Friday Flashback: My Favorite Forrester Groundswell Award Winner From 2011

In anticipation of our upcoming 2013 Forrester Groundswell awards, I have been reminiscing about our past winners. One of the great benefits of participating in Forrester's Groundswell Awards is that analysts often use the winners' (and finalists') submissions as examples of best practices. Personally, I have included our Groundswell Awards winners and finalists in event presentations, client advisories, and consulting projects. These winners have inspired many marketers who continuously seek innovative ways to incorporate social media in their marketing strategies.

One winner that I have referred to frequently — and is a personal favorite of mine — is L'Oreal.  L'Oreal won a B2B Groundswell Award in 2011 for its National Salon Facebook program. Using the Buddy Media social relationship platform, L'Oreal provided its ecosystem of thousands of salon partners with tools that helped them easily enhance their business Facebook pages with branded content, how-to-videos, and appointment-scheduling applications. I have many reasons for favoriting L'Oreal's program, but my top three are:

  • L'Oreal's campaign reflects an "outside-in" perspective.This was a true B2B2C campaign that proves how important it is to address the needs of the customer. The campaign provided content and applications to end-consumers, helped partners with shrinking marketing budgets promote their services, and helped L'Oreal get its brand in front of a wide audience of consumers. It was a win/win/win!
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Despite Impressive Growth, Facebook Is Facing Mobile Ad Challenges

Facebook now has 819 million mobile monthly active users. That’s a huge audience. That’s actually 71% of total active users.

Yesterday, Facebook reported they generated 41% of total ad revenues via mobile. That’s pretty impressive considering they generated nearly 0% end 2011 when they had already 432 million mobile monthly users. Since the launch of mobile ads in 2012, Facebook steadily increased the share of mobile in total ad revenues: it was 23% end 2012 and 30% in Q1 2013.

There is still a monetization gap in comparison to the share of their mobile audience, but that’s definitely impressive for a new product.

There are a couple of reasons for this sharp increase.  Time spent on Facebook is meaningful. Facebook’s mobile ads integrate well in the natural flow of Facebook’s news feeds. They are quite visible and are increasingly successful at driving mobile app installs. According to our European Technographics Consumer Technology Online Survey, Q4 2012, 16% of online adult smartphone owners (ages 16-plus) who use apps report that they first learned about an app via social networking websites such as Facebook. No wonder why the likes of Fiksu and other app boosters spent a lot of money on Facebook mobile ads.  Cost per click increased despite a lot more clicks and ads shown.

For this approach to be successful in the longer term, there are a couple of key questions to be answered:

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Got a Plan for Marketing Summer Camp?

For B2B marketers, June 30th can have a ‘last day of school’ feel about it.  It’s a chance to catch our breath after a full slate of Q1’s kick-offs and launches and Q2’s promotions, tradeshows and roadshows.  But, like today’s kids, who no longer while away the summer playing in the woods or frolicking in the pool, today’s B2B marketers need to use the summer to improve: to build new skills, expand our horizons, and prepare for the new adventures that await us in the fall.  Think of it as Marketing Summer Camp. 

If I were the Activities Director at Camp B2B, I’d build a program of reflection, assessment, and improvement with a focus on::

People:  Make learning a priority.  

Pipeline: Take a hard look at marketing’s contribution to the revenue pipeline. 

Process: Identify your conversion weak spots and remediate. 

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16 Ways To Turn Content Marketing Into Business Value

According to Digiday, current affairs website Slate demands minimum $100,000 from brands to build an “advertising content program”. Forbes asks for $50,000 a month to give brands a platform for publishing content on their site. And many companies are spending as much or more on their own content sites.

Given the mighty spend, the silence around the economics of content is deafening. There’s the high-level question of content marketing ROI­–a topic larger than any blog post. But, at a more basic level, how many marketers plan how and where their content drives business value?

Call this the content impact model:

If marketers create and distribute content to generate value, there are two simultaneous and non-exclusive paths by which value is created:

1.    Intrinsic: Consumption of the content itself brings value to the brand, by making the reader/viewer aware of the brand, its expertise or products.
2.    Extrinsic: All of the value that can be extracted by a reader/viewer arriving at or opening the content (but not the content itself).

This post looks specifically at extrinsic value. This value is created or released by mechanisms that I’ll call catalysts of content marketing value.

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Effectively Harnessing Chinese Video Platforms For Marketing Success

If you still consider online video advertising merely as a complement to TV advertising in China, then you are wrong. My latest report “Marketers Embrace The Power Of Digital Video In China” tells you why.

In this report, based on the analysis of Chinese online consumers’ video consumption behavior and marketers’ spending intention, we conclude that online video is becoming mainstream to both Chinese consumers and marketers.

  • Consumers embrace online video and ad-supported entertainment. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that 95% of metro Chinese online adults watch videos on a computer at least monthly, compared with 49% in the US. Also, 72% of metro Chinese online adults prefer advertising-supported free content over pay-per-view content.
  • Marketers are shifting ad budget from TV to online video in China. Unlike in the US and Europe where online video is taking budget from print or direct mail, marketers in China begin to shift ad budget from TV to online video.
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In Business, Everybody Uses Social Media For Work; The Question Is How

You can no longer segment your business customers into those who use social media for business purposes and those who do not. Why not? Because according to Forrester’s newest B2B Social Technographics® numbers, fully 100% of business decision-makers use social media for work purposes. Other stunningly high numbers: 98% of business decision-makers are Spectators (they read blogs, watch videos, or listen to podcasts), 79% are Joiners (they maintain a profile on social networking sites), and 75% are Critics (they comment on blogs and post ratings and reviews), all in the context of their business activities.

Therefore, it’s no longer a question of whether you should use social, but how. B2B marketing executives no longer need convincing to invest in social. However, social marketing efforts are maturing beyond experimentation — where measuring results is secondary — to science. At this more advanced stage of maturity, marketers need to understand exactly how and when their customers are using social and target them differently in each stage of the customer life cycle.

Your customers don’t make blanket use of “social media,” “social networks,” or “communities” in general. Instead, they use specific social networks and communities for specific goals, both personal and business-related. The communities your customers visit for personal reasons are not always the ones they use for business purposes.

For business purposes, the No. 1 and No. 2 communities aren’t specific public social networks but “niche” communities focused on specific objectives. For example, business technology buyers might visit IT Central Station or Spiceworks to learn more about multiple competing technologies at once; alternatively, they might visit a community managed by a single brand, such as the Cisco Communities or SAP Community Network (SCN).

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Guest Post: Sarah Takvorian’s Favorite Forrester Groundswell Award Winner

[UPDATE, Sepember 2013: Entries for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards are now closed. More than 100 companies entered more than 130 social programs this year, and we're looking forward to reviewing them and recognizing the best at our 2013 eBusiness Forum on November 5.]

We recently announced that we are accepting applications for the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards! This program recognizes companies that have best used social media to advance an organizational or business goal. As we gear up for this year’s awards, we can’t help but reminisce about those past winners that blew us away. Sarah Takvorian, the super Research Associate who helps out with our social marketing coverage, shares one of her favorites from the 2012 awards:

We received more than 100 award entries in 2012, but the B2C Talking category winner was my favorite.  Glidden’s “My Colortopia” social hub engaged the paint brand’s target audience and guided them toward the right colors and styles by providing expert advice and personalized inspiration.

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A favorite prior Forrester Groundswell Winner, and the 2013 awards

We’ve begun accepting nominations for our 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards, the seventh year we’ve recognized top social marketing efforts.  We use these awards as best-practice examples in our research and presentations, and I wanted to look back and highlight one of my favorite winners from 2012. 

Premier Farnell — an electronics components supplier with $1.4B in 2012 revenue that also operates as Newark in the United States — has a goal to sell to a broader range of design engineers by offering them resources throughout its projects. To do this, the company built a community called element14, which offers resources about all types of electronic design topics and — crucially — does not focus just on products that Premier Farnell supplies. The community has about 120,000 members, and 5% to 7% of them click through from the community to the transactional portion of Premier Farnell's site each day as fully qualified leads. Premier Farnell shows that large corporations can generate substantial new business by offering potential customers vendor-agnostic reasons to visit a new community.

The community also generates new content for the rest of the company's marketing, as 45 experts create a series of new content in the community which provides another reason for customers to return; in fact, a third of the community members return every week.  

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The Viewability Standard Will Shake Up The Display Ads Industry, But Ultimately Benefit Publishers

Since the day the very first banner ad appeared nineteen years ago, advertisers and publishers have defined a served impression in a multiplicity of ways.  Today, advertisers have little confidence that what they are buying is what they are getting, a factor that is contributing to the downward pressure on CPMs for display ads.

The Viewability initiative, slated to take effect formally in 2014, is the industry’s first step toward remedying the uncertainty about actual served impressions.  It establishes a base line definition of what a viewable impression is and basic rules of engagement for the display ad industry, both of which I think are critical to its long-term viability. 

It seems to me that agreement and implementation of a viewability standard starts the industry down the path of greater appreciation for content, context and the important work that publishers do. This is why I chose it as the topic for my first report:  “Viewability Brings Transparency To The Display Ads Market.” In it, I examine the current state of affairs in the digital display market, review what publishers and marketers have to gain, and examine the costs involved in preparing for and executing on viewability.

A few findings from the report are particularly relevant for publishers:

  • Viewability will be table stakes by 2014. The host of technical obstacles will be overcome and a sufficient selection of measurement vendors will be accredited to allow for choice of partners
  • Accommodating the new standard offers publishers the opportunity to re-think site structures in order to optimize performance for both their constituencies – advertisers and consumers
  • New packaging and pricing options will emerge
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