January Sets The Stage For Faster Disruption Of The TV Ad Model

The annual hype surrounding Super Bowl ads has reached a crescendo this week, and I won't add to it. (You can always go read the article I published in the Journal of Advertising Research when I was CMO of a social media listening company, proving it was more effective to preview your ad before the game than keep it secret.)

Don't let this cacophony drown out three events this month that signal 2014 as a pivotal year in the evolution of TV advertising. Any single one would be big enough news, but the fact that all three happened in just one month shows that the drivers for changes are accelerating:

  • Charter bids for Time-Warner. Behind-the-scenes overtures broke into the open when Charter went public with their desire to buy their larger rival. This event is a symptom of underlying margin pressures and technological change that we will see accelerate this year http://forr.com/TWCinplay 
  • Verizon buys Intel's online TV service. The chip giant threw in the towel in its attempts to create an over-the-top TV service, frustrated in part by content owners' intransigence. Verizon reportedly got a very slick new user interface, but also potential to become the first "virtual MPVD", an IP-delivered TV service that isn't constrained by the geographic footprint of their infrastructure or regulatory definition of its operating territory. 
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How To Be A Social Depth Winner

We are currently accepting entries for our 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards and as we are rapidly approaching our February 28th deadline, I thought I would share some insights on what it takes to win in the Social Depth category.

For those of you who need a refresh, social depth includes all of the various social capabilities that a brand adds to its own website and/or campaign microsite in order to facilitate a buyers' exploration of the brand and its offerings. Social depth tactics can include a blog, ratings and reviews, discussion forums, curated and aggregated social content (user-generated and brand-generated) and social sign-on. These tactics provide tremendous value to marketers who have deployed them. In fact, my recent report shows how B2B marketers give social depth tactics high grades in terms of their contribution to business outcomes.

But what makes a social depth strategy stand out from the rest? First and foremost, your social depth strategy should provide the rich content and customer insights a buyer seeks when exploring your brand and products on your website. This branded and user-generated content should move a buyer from early exploration to consideration and ultimately to an actual online or offline purchase. Brands that do this really well can show how their strategy drives quality leads, conversions and online and/or offline sales.

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Facebook Paper: What Can eBusiness Pros Learn About The Need For Multiple, Simple Apps?

Facebook will launch its new Paper product on February 3. The questions I have been asked are, "Why?" and "Should we be thinking about multiple apps rather than one large app?" Both good questions. 

The first question -- I can only take a shot. Facebook, like many other media properties, depends heavily on advertising for revenue. To get advertising, you need eyeballs. More and more minutes per day are spent on mobile phones. Consumption of news, information, and media generally tops the list behind communication. Consumers also expect highly curated experiences on small screens that can be more challenging to navigate. At first glance, the Paper user interface and experience looks to be quite elegant.

It always makes me smile to see a product or app launched that takes a mobile first-approach. From the short video that was released, you can instantly tell that they didn't start with a web experience and think, "How can we strip this down and put it on a small screen?" They appeared to have done ethonographic research -- to watch and observe how people engage with their phones and consume information through the course of the day (e.g., the unfolding of the newspaper). This is one of the best practices in mobile design -- understand the needs of consumers on the go. Companies must ask, "What are those moments during the day when someone reaches for the phone to access information or a service?" Forrester calls them mobile moments. Companies must be ready to serve customers in those moments.

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Customer Experience Predictions For 2014

My colleague John Dalton and I recently published a report outlining our major predictions for customer experience in the coming year. What we envision is perhaps best summed up by the old William Gibson quote: “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Here’s why: As I wrote in a recent post, roughly half of the attendees at Forrester’s three customer experience forums in 2013 said that their organizations are in the first phase of the path to CX maturity (repair). Their priority is — and for the immediate future will remain — finding and fixing broken experiences.

A much smaller group of companies — no more than 10% — say that their organizations are in the ultimate phase of CX maturity (differentiate). In contrast with companies in the repair phase, they'll build on their past success with well-funded efforts that leverage their skills in strategy, customer understanding, and design.

With that as background, we predict that two major themes will deserve the most attention in the coming year.

Companies in the repair phase will fight to advance along the path to customer experience maturity. Companies just starting to fix their broken experiences will find themselves in a struggle that's hard, slow, and increasingly costly. They'll focus on getting key infrastructure in place to assess what's broken, manage a portfolio of repair projects, and measure the results they need to build enterprisewide support for CX.

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Introducing the Global Retail Segmentation

It's hardly a secret that consumers are rapidly adopting new touchpoints to help them shop.

But the killer question that every eBusiness executive must be able to answer is, how quickly are consumers adopting any given touchpoint and how influential are they in the overall shopping experience?  

Touchpoint adoption varies significantly around the globe. For consumers, cost, availability, trust in new technology and convenience are primary drivers of how quickly they embrace new technologies into the shopping journey. But adoption isn't all about consumers. Retailer enablement is also a key factor in the adoption curve. If retailers provide touchpoint optimized, rich, convenient experiences that exploit the best features of each new touchpoint while still supporting the overall brand experience, they are more likely to drive consumer adoption.

There are some great examples around the world for firms embracing new technology to make the shopping experience as simple, easy and friction-free as possible for their shoppers, no matter which touchpoint they chose to use. For instance:

  • Blue Tomato gives shoppers freedom of choice. German action sports retailer Blue Tomato leverages responsive design to give multi-touchpoint shoppers freedom to pick whatever device they want. The upside - a seamless and consistent customer experience coupled with a lower cost of ownership for a single code base. The downside - more complex code and more testing when they make changes.
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Forrester Releases The Annual State of Consumers And Technology 2013, US Report

We just published our annual report on The State Of Consumers And Technology: Benchmark 2013, US. This data-rich report is a graphical analysis of a range of topics about consumers and technology and serves as a benchmark for consumers’ level of technology adoption, usage and attitudes. Our annual benchmark report is based on Forrester's Technographics® online benchmark survey that we've been fielding since 1998. The report covers a wide range of topics, such as online activities, social media activities, retail behaviors and preferences, and device usage—for  ‘traditional’ technologies like TVs and laptops—as well as more emerging technologies like smartphones, tablets and wearables.

We analyze our findings through a generational lens, including Gen Z, Gen Y, Gen X, Younger Boomers, Older Boomers, and the Golden Generation. While most Americans are already online, we are seeing major strides in mobile Internet access. In 2013, all generations are connected—81% of the US adult population goes online. But there are still generational differences in smartphone usage: Seven of ten Gen Zers and Gen Yers use a smartphone, but only 18% of the Golden Generation do.

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Due Diligence Required: L2RM Platform Vendors Are Great At Marketing

Peter O’Neill here, to tell you: we’ve finally made it! Yes, our Forrester Wave™ evaluation on lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) platforms is finally published for Forrester clients. In this 75-criteria evaluation, we identified the nine most significant solution providers in the category — Act-On, Adobe, CallidusCloud, IBM, Marketo, Oracle, salesforce.com, Salesfusion, and Silverpop —and researched, analyzed, and scored them. Lori Wizdo and I, ably supported by reviews from colleagues Laura Ramos and Sheryl Pattek, looked in detail at how the vendors support traditional business-to-business (B2B) lead management capabilities — lead capture, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and lead promotion — as well as meet the emerging needs of B2B marketers in cross-channel execution, social campaigns, and real-time, contextual triggers, optimization, and analytics. Note that we sub-titled the report “Due Diligence Required: These Vendors Are Great At Marketing”.  This is not our frivolity: buyers really do need to firstly evaluate their own needs and then select the vendor that best fits that specification.

 

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Order Management – An Omni-Channel Imperative

With Omni-channel excellence fast becoming a customer imperative, retailers and brands alike are rushing to operationalize an increasingly complex set of cross-channel order processing and fulfillment scenarios that are often referred to in aggregate as “buy anywhere, fulfill anywhere”. In fact in recent survey, we found that 52% of eBusiness professionals ranked Omni-channel integration as a top technology investment priority.

The path to Omni-channel maturity is far from simple; in fact it requires execution across a set of tactics that span organization, process and technology. Front of mind for retailers is solving the basics such as store pickup, cross-channel inventory visibility, store based fulfillment and endless aisle (in-store) ordering. Today, retailers that have already enabled these capabilities have done so by developing custom applications that integrate their eCommerce, POS and ERP/supply chain systems. However as these capabilities rapidly become the ‘norm’ for the consumer, retailers seek packaged solutions that enable them to rapidly rollout, experiment with and scale these programs.

Enter the OMS (order management system). In our May 2013 survey only 17% of eBusiness professionals identified the investment in an OMS platform as an investment priority, however this relative lack of interest is in fact easy to explain:

1)      Many retailers are still in the nascent phases of their Omni-channel journey and have yet to fully map out their requirements. Simply put, these retailers still need to make the connection between the capabilities of an OMS platform and the requirements of their Omni-channel strategy.

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Now Available: Forrester’s First Wave™ Evaluation Of Lead-To-Revenue Platform Providers

We recently wrapped up our first ever evaluation on lead-to-revenue management (L2RM) platforms.  In this 75-criteria evaluation, we identified the nine most significant solution providers in the category, and researched, analyzed, and scored them.  I want to extend my sincere thanks to each vendor in the report — Act-On, Adobe, CallidusCloud, IBM, Marketo, Oracle, salesforce.com, Salesfusion, and Silverpop — for committing to and participating in the often grueling Forrester Wave™ evaluation process.  

In the analysis, the Forrester team looked in detail at how the vendors support traditional business-to-business (B2B) lead management capabilities — lead capture, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and lead promotion — as well as meet the emerging needs of B2B marketers in cross-channel execution, social campaigns, and real-time, contextual triggers, optimization, and analytics.   

Forrester clients can read the full report here.

The Forrester Wave process is extensive. Here are some of my key takeaways after having scored 675 criteria, reviewed the transcripts of 30 interviews, watched 18 hours of vendor demos, topped off with 9-plus hours of vendor strategy presentations:
 

The L2RM Platform Buyer Needs To Exercise Deep Due Diligence When Making A Platform Selection

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Calm Down. Facebook Isn't Dying.

If you work in social media, you've been hearing variations on a theme for the past week: Facebook is in trouble! It's lost young users! It's getting crushed by upstart social networks! Eighty percent of its users will disappear in the next few years!

But as was the case with Mark Twain, reports of Facebook's death are an exaggeration:

  • That Princeton report seriously misses the mark. Last week, two Princeton PhD students circulated a report predicting Facebook would lose 80% of its users by 2017. They used epidemiological models to predict that, like MySpace before it, both the rise and fall of Facebook would look like the spread of a virus. But the research wasn’t peer-reviewed, and wasn’t published in any journal, and you can perhaps see why. Facebook itself did a pretty good job of pointing out the limitations of the researchers’ methodology. And I see another problem with this study: The MySpace ‘virus’ hardly mutated in all the years it infected the world, but the Facebook ‘virus’ mutates frequently. One of Facebook’s greatest strengths is its practice of regularly adding new features and functionality to its site; this both ensures it infects new users and also makes sure existing users don’t become immune to its charms.
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