How should marketing service providers evolve?

Shar VanBoskirk

We're all finally settling down from our blockbuster of a consumer forum in Chicago last week (check out http://blogs.forrester.com/consumerforum for summaries, thoughts, and highlights from the event) and processing some of the learnings that came out of our client conversations. I didn't end up listening in on very many of the main tent speakers as I was pretty booked with one-on-one sessions. These are 30 minute, in person meetings that forum attendees can book with the analysts of their choice to discuss business issues. I was definitely tired after my few days of back to back one-on-ones, but to be honest, I came back to the office pretty recharged. I've been so heads down on research of late, that it was really nice to engage with clients face to face. I really enjoyed sharing ideas and meeting the real people who are out there reading my research!

One topic that came up several times in one-on-ones with different clients is: the role of the service provider in the next era of marketing. We've all been talking about integrated marketing for years. And this year's forum theme pushed integrated marketing even further by looking at how to "Humanize the Digital Experience." This means the entire integrated customer experience.

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Update on Interactive Marketing Organization Survey

Shar VanBoskirk

On September 14, I posted a notice about a research study we had in the works on The Interactive Marketing Organization.  Thanks to everyone who participated in the survey! 

We've gotten about 150 responses and have actually closed the survey (just in case you have tried to take the survey recently and found the link inactive).  I'm currently at work on the report this data will feed.  But since that is still several weeks away, I wanted to provide you with a few previews of what we learned:

*Companies actually have a surprising tenure with interactive marketing:   79% have been using interactive marketing for more than 3 years; 52% for more than 5
*Interactive marketing teams are generally small (39% have IM teams with 1 to 5 people).  However 18% report teams that are quite large (31 or more people)
*Interactive marketers outsource less than I had expected with 59% outsourcing less than 25% of their work.
*Younger IM organizations (those using IM for less than 5 years) are generally less strategic than more senior organizations.  They have less staff, less budget, but better executive support than IM organizations who have been using interactive marketing for more than 5 years.

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Interactive Marketing Spending Maturing, But Not Slowing Down

Shar VanBoskirk

I’ve gotten a number of press calls since Yahoo announced it has missed its earnings on October 5 asking if I think this indicates a larger slow down of interactive marketing spending overall.  My response to these qualms “No way, Jose.”  Here is what I think is happening:

*Interactive marketing spending is definitely different today than it was in the boom times of Bubble One (circa 1999-2000).  But this is a good thing.  Today, more traditional marketers are including online advertising, email and search marketing in their marketing mix.  This provides stability and legitimacy to interactive media which it did not have when it was supported solely by dot coms.

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Are Online Ads Ever Desirable?

Christine Overby

The theme for Forrester’s upcoming Consumer Forum is “Humanizing The Digital Experience.” What makes a digital experience more human? First, it must be useful. Second, it must be usable to the point that the technology fades into the background. Finally, the best digital experiences are desirable enough to stimulate action (e.g. buying a product, or telling a friend about the experience).

After years of clumsy and cold web sites, examples of desirable experiences are starting to pop up everywhere. Witness MySpace.com and NASCAR’s PitCommand (a mobile application in which fans can track in real-time the speed, RPM, throttle, position, and time of their favorite driver). These are great, but can every online experience be desirable? What about when a company is trying to sell you something?

Is there such thing as a desirable banner ad?

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MSN, Yahoo! and Google: What's with all the buzz?

Shar VanBoskirk

Within the last week there has been a lot of buzz about the online search businesses of the three search engine giants: Google, Yahoo! and MSN. We anticipated some of the buzz -- MSN announced its US launch of AdCenter at its Strategic Account Summit in Redmond beginning 5/2; and Yahoo! announced a new platform and set of services for its advertisers on Monday. But last week a surprise WSJ article generated quite a stir. Here’s the excerpt that got everyone talking:

One faction within Microsoft Corp. is promoting a bold strategy in the company's battle with Google Inc: Join forces with Yahoo Inc.

That would be a major departure for Microsoft, the software maker that is legendary for toiling on its own until it captures a new market. However, people familiar with the situation say that Microsoft has considered the idea of acquiring a stake in Yahoo, and that the two companies have discussed possible options over the course of the past year.

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