VR & Marketing: Beyond The Hype

Samantha Merlivat

Much has been said about Virtual Reality in 2016 after a number of companies, like HTC, Sony and Facebook, promised to bring their headset to market in the course of the year. Since then, VR has been on everybody’s lips. VR content creation platforms are mushrooming, VR ad exchanges are starting to appear and agencies have been quick to pitch VR concepts to marketers eager to show their brand is innovative.

We think it’s time for marketers to take a step back and ask themselves why they are pursuing VR: What are you gaining from it, and does it make sense for you to explore VR now? And don't get me wrong - I'm a VR enthusiast. But when it comes to VR in marketing, even I have to recognize there is still way more hype than substance. 

For certain product categories, it is clear that VR will be a game changer in the future, and that experimenting now will help take advantage of the technology as it gains in maturity. But other brands may have to accept that VR has little to offer for them in the next 5 years, and resources placed in VR could be better invested elsewhere for the time being. We’ve seen countless examples of branded VR initiatives last year that left marketers - and consumers - completely underwhelmed.

Thomas Husson and I investigated what opportunities VR creates for brands from a marketing perspective: We found that for some categories – like retail – it can be disruptive to the point of transforming traditional sales channels. For others - like automotive, hospitality and real estate - it gives brands added persuasive power, proximity and convenience, beyond what traditional marketing channels can achieve. But not every vertical, and not every company, will benefit from VR.

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The Emotional Roller Coaster Of Super Bowl LI

Juan Salazar

Many are calling Super Bowl LI the greatest and most exciting Super Bowl ever, as the New England Patriots came roaring back to accomplish one of the largest comebacks in NFL history. For the fans involved, it was a whirlwind of emotions, and they readily took to social media to express them. To get a better sense of these fan emotions, we analyzed Twitter feeds from Massachusetts and from Georgia, captured during the game with a new cutting-edge emotion algorithm developed at Forrester. The results of our analysis paint a clear picture of two very different roller coaster rides. Atlanta Falcons fans went from the joy of a sure win to the disgust and sadness of having victory snatched from their hands — quite literally, considering Julian Edelman’s ridiculous catch with just over 2 minutes left. Patriots fans, on the other hand, quickly regained the sense of anticipation they had felt when beginning the game as the favorites (perfectly inverted with their sense of disgust, which peaked when their team was down 25 points), culminating in a combination of surprise and joy at pulling off such an improbable comeback.

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It’s Time To Take Flight With Social Selling

Caroline Robertson

The logistics of business travel can be nightmarish, especially when productivity is most crucial, which is business as usual for today’s business-to-business (B2B) sellers. On the surface, million-mile platinum status is evidence of rock-star sellers who are willing to jump on a plane at a moment’s notice to build new and enrich existing relationships on behalf of their firm. But what about when prospects and customers don’t want to see you?

Whether it’s increasing workloads, the ability to be more efficient by participating in remote meetings, or the fact that buyers prefer to self-educate in the early phases of the evaluation process, today’s B2B buyers are less inclined to take sales meetings. Many don’t want to engage directly with sellers until they are further along with their own self-discovery. And when they do, expectations are high for sellers to show up in an advisory capacity and provide consultative expertise.

How then can you be present as a recognized expert with prospects and customers who want to spend less time with you? Mary Shea’s newest report, “Add Social Selling To Your B2B Marketing Repertoire,” explains how B2B sellers who add social selling activities to their daily routine can do this — and much more.

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The Predictive Power of Early Morning App Usage

Juan Salazar

Hello! As a new data science analyst at Forrester, I am thrilled to lead analysis of and insights from Forrester’s Mobile Audience Data (MAD). Although my expertise covers most areas of data science, I have a distinct passion for network and text analytics and custom algorithms that unlock the stories behind the data. I most recently worked in the multilateral development space, where I used data science to map the connections of internal and external communications in order to help guide country and sector strategies. I am incredibly excited to use the power and creativity of data science with our clients at Forrester.

My first report analyzes consumers’ reliance on smartphones in their daily routines. Look back over your past week or, better yet, your past month. Can you remember a single morning when you did not look at your smartphone during the first few minutes after waking up? I can’t. Smartphones’ omnipresence in our morning routines means that we can learn a lot from our use of our mobile devices during these early hours of the day. Because we are creatures of habit, we tend to access the same apps and websites in the morning, day in and day out.

For example, look at the most popular apps that US consumers access first thing in the morning. The most-used apps allow consumers to wake up and check on their social lives: 15% of the time, US consumers wake up and check their email. In fact, the clock, email, messaging, and Facebook account for 40% of all early-morning device behaviors.

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Super Bowl LI: Lackluster Brand Promises, Inspiring Values

Jim Nail

Out of a generally uninspiring batch of ads this year, one trend stood out: brands using the largest ad platform in the US to align their brand with social and political values that generally are thought to have no place in the bottom-line world of driving quarterly business results. Social media listening firm Talkwalker notes that 5 of the top 10 most talked about ads have a social or political theme and generated strong positive sentiment: Budweiser, Audi, Coca-Cola, 84 Lumber, and AirBnB.

Not all ads attempting to align a brand with societal values were successful: Audi’s attempt to take a stand on gender pay equity lacked a credible connection to this testosterone-fueled luxury car. And, of course, taking a stand risks alienating consumers who disagree. Since Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” ad was originally conceived long before the election, I’m not convinced they were trying to make a statement about immigration policy. But it is certainly being seen in that tone and has brought out a fair share of trolls commenting on YouTube.

These brands are acknowledging that the idea that “the business of business is business” is changing. Along with my colleagues Henry Peyret, Brigitte Majewski, Alex Cullen and Drew Green, I have been exploring the changing nature of how consumers incorporate these broader values into their brand decisions. Stay tuned for the report but our research tells us 3 things a brand must do to walk this delicate line in today’s polarized environment.

  • Carefully consider where your brand should be on what Carol Cone calls “The Purpose Spectrum”
  • Be authentic and back up the words with tangible commitments
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Through The Marketing Wormhole

Melissa Parrish

What a strange time it is to be a marketer. Last year, we on the B2C marketing team fielded hundreds of questions from brands and tech partners alike about the revelations that rocked our worlds: kickbacks, tech consolidation, opacity of even decades-old partnerships, measurement screw-ups from the world’s second largest digital advertising player, and the possibility of a single tweet sending share prices tumbling. And yet…

The increasing importance of content—especially video, both live and otherwise—is driving a renewed dependence on agencies. Facebook had an absolutely insane Q4 and Snap Inc filed their S-1. Advertisers didn't shy away from Super Bowl buys even with declining NFL ratings; they’re just going cross-platform, even if they won’t be able to measure its effectiveness.

What is going on? Are we so optimistic that we’re ignoring the data in front of us that seems to say we should be taking a cold, hard look at our strategic planning? Is it that given the greater world context over the last year we no longer know if we can trust the evidence in the first place? Is it as simple as marketers following the eyeballs, proof of efficacy (and constant Forrester pleas to improve your measurement) be damned?

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The Data Economy Is Going To Be Huge. Believe Me.

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

Are they serious? I've just finished reading the recent Communication on Building a European Data Economy  published by the European Commission. And, it’s a good thing they're seeking advice. The timing is perfect. I’m in the thick of my research for a new report on data commercialization. When I first published It’s Time To Take Your Data To Market the idea was merely a twinkle in people’s eye. Today that twinkle is much

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Your 7 content mega- giga- uber- supra- monster trends for 2017

Ryan Skinner

It’s Groundhog’s Day, when a sleepy landpig emerges from his little mancave and entertains questions from the press about astronomical phenomena!
As good a day as any to share a few content trends where we at Forrester expect to see considerable acceleration this year.

Here are your 6 content trends and one wannabe-trend that won’t trend in 2017.

The first megatrend
Direct-to-consumer pushes CPG out of the brand advertising comfort zone

Direct-to-consumer plays by the CPG giants, and even more so the CPG small guys, will put substantial pressure on brand marketers to invest in content and experiences that drive action. That means more content for richer websites, email programs, product documentation, and paid and unpaid executions. Mondelez’s made a $10 billion bet on this, and Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club signals their interest in more direct subscription-driven sales.

What does it mean?
Digital agencies with strong content chops and some ecommerce nous will be the winners, as brand teams ramp up their direct marketing capabilities.

The second gigatrend
Stunts and experiential executions set higher bars for hero and community content

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The Data Digest: Online Video Ad Spending Is Set To Make A Splash In 2017

Brandon Verblow

Up until now, paid services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO have dominated US online video viewing, particularly for long-form, TV-style content. Uptake of ad-supported, TV-style online video has been slower; traditional TV providers control much of this content, and they’ve been cautious about making their programming available outside the lucrative TV bundle. Even if many viewers want to cut the cord, they may not follow through as they realize they cannot get all the content they want. YouTube, of course, has a massive ad-supported online video business that has been growing healthily according to our calculations. However, even YouTube falls short of Netflix in terms of downstream bandwidth consumption, and its estimated ad revenue is only a small fraction of traditional TV ad revenue. For online video ad spend to show meaningful growth, consumer-generated or web-only content won’t be enough. A truly robust online video ad market will require the migration of traditional TV content to digital platforms.

This migration appears to be gathering momentum. Recently, we have seen a number of developments that could drive the uptake of ad-supported online video and that indicate that 2017 could be the year when ad-supported online video starts to make a splash.

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Game Over: Don’t Let Twitter’s NFL Ads Dazzle You

Jessica Liu

Last April, we blogged about Twitter’s marquee agreement with the National Football League (NFL). The industry was abuzz: The two joining forces meant a marrying of live programming with social commentary. In its inaugural season, Twitter-NFL’s powerful partnership presented an enticing live streaming package for marketers because:

  • Marketers view social media as an attractive marketing channel. In our Forrester Data: US Social Media Forecast, 2016 To 2021 (US), social ad spend is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% in the next five years. 
  • Live streaming captures younger eyeballs in particular. Millennials are the first to embrace streaming in all of its forms, appealing to marketers trying to capture fragmented audiences. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics(R) data reveals that 63% percent of Millennials (age 18-36) watch 5 or more hours of TV shows, films or video online. This is a significant percentage of their TV time so marketers must learn how to reach this audience outside of linear TV types of viewing. 
  • The NFL’s proven content sweetens the package. NFL games garner high viewership and in a typical week dominate the top 10 most-watched shows, especially among the coveted 18-49 age demographic. And primetime programming, especially sports content, is one of the most popular conversation topics on Twitter. 
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