6 Reasons BuzzFeed's Revenue Miss Is OMG!

Ryan Skinner

BuzzFeed's supposed to be the media company that holds the answer to the media business's future in a post-banner world. While the media world is dying, BuzzFeed's been hiring, growing to new markets, winning new investment on high valuations and projecting hockey stick sales growth.

But worrying signals that BuzzFeed was struggling were confirmed in an article by Financial Times, which cited a miss on 2015's revenue target and a halving of 2016's target. To this, BuzzFeed's chairman said "There's nothing cratering in the industry. It's better than ever." Meanwhile, he offered no evidence to the contrary, reminding this analyst of:

 Counter to Lerer's assurances and in line with FT's findings, there are some pretty good reasons BuzzFeed may be missing its numbers. I'll present them in true BuzzFeed listicle style (all gifs credited to giphy.com). Here goes:

1) BuzzFeed's tried to position itself and its expected revenue as a software play, but it's just....not.

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A Practical Approach To B2B Buyer Journey Mapping

Steven Casey

After a conversation with my colleague Lori Wizdo the other day about buyer journey mapping, she followed up by sharing the following cartoon – which I thought was perfect:

Perfect because it captured both our perspectives on the topic: Lori’s that buyer journeys are by their very nature hypothetical; and mine that you can never anticipate every buyer’s possible path to purchase.

This is not to say that buyer journey mapping is a futile exercise – or that the way to deal with its limitations is to ensure that your customers stay on the paths you’ve laid out for them, as appealing (and humorously absurd) as that reaction may be for all marketers.

As Lori pointed out in a recent blog post, you need to understand your buyer’s typical path to purchase to build an effective omnichannel marketing strategy that successfully engages with buyers at the right time with the right content through the right channel.

But be realistic in your goals and recognize that you will never be able to anticipate every possible buyer journey. When large companies with a wide range of solutions are documenting dozens, if not hundreds, of discrete paths to purchase, it’s too easy to get lost in the process and proceed well past the point of diminishing returns. 

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Facebook F8: Important Takeaways For Digital Business Pros (Hint: Keep Calm About Bots!)

Julie Ask

Facebook held its annual developer conference in San Francisco this week. Analysts at Forrester collectively fielded a lot of questions from the media, but most of them focused on bots and the Messenger platform. Here are my top takeaways from the event:

  1. It's still early days for developer tools: Facebook approached F8 with a humble, honest tone and message about the state of its applications, platforms and tools for developers. Facebook didn't over promise. Every executive on the main stage to the breakouts in the "Hacker X" and "Hacker Y" pavilions offered an honest portrayal of where Facebook is today. Where is it? Facebook holds a very strong position in terms of total minutes of use and monthly active users across its various apps and platforms (e.g., Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Oculus, etc.), but they are just beginning to offer tools to developers. Developers of mobile apps want to borrow mobile moments on Facebook's apps/platforms because they don't own enough mobile moments themselves. Facebook is just in the earliest of stages of giving tools to these developers to help them borrow mobile moments effectively.
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Do You Have The Tools To Make Your Customer Experience Ecosystem Work?

TJ Keitt

A high-quality customer experience is the result of interactions between people in a network, which Forrester calls a customer experience (CX) ecosystem. As followers of this blog know, what holds that ecosystem together are value exchanges facilitated by an open, collaborative business culture. My colleague Sam Stern laid out how businesses define workers' roles and create engagement within this ecosystem. And in January, we published a report explaining the advantage businesses with collaborative CX ecosystems have. But we still have one outstanding question: How do companies enable the free-flowing knowledge and information sharing that make CX ecosystems valuable and successful?

Our new report, "How To Spur Collaboration Across Your Customer Experience Ecosystem," grapples with the enablement question from a technology standpoint. Why focus on technology? The people who constitute a CX ecosystems are never entirely colocated, yet they must share and discuss business artifacts (e.g., marketing collateral, contracts, designs) in order to make decisions that affect customers' experience. This problem requires a technical solution.

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Zuckerberg 101 - F8 2016

Erna Alfred Liousas

If you’re unfamiliar with it, F8 is a two-day event focused on developers, a crucial part of Facebook’s ecosystem. I was fortunate enough to attend, and though I have many takeaways, which I'll discuss in upcoming posts, the one that surprises me most is Mark Zuckerberg himself.

Zuckerberg’s rousing introductory keynote set the foundation for the two-day event. He kicked things off with an ambitious 10-year road map.

(Image credit: Facebook News)

Let’s be honest: The most we see from companies today is a three-year road map or, for the adventurous, a five-year road map. Yes, Zuckerberg caught our attention once he took the stage; however, when the 10-year road map slide appeared, a new type of energy filled the venue. As a result, I couldn’t help but take a holistic look at his approach and name it “Zuckerberg 101.” For F8, this approach consisted of a foundational message, expectation setting, and an appeal to the audience. Take note marketers because this approach is one we can all use to foster connections with our audiences. It also helps us understand Facebook’s long-term strategy, along with its near- and long-term investments. Zuckerberg 101 consists of:

  • A foundational message. F8 2016's message is that Facebook’s mission of connecting everyone is everything. The 10-year road map echoes this vision with key milestones that aim to provide everyone with the power to share. All subsequent presentations reflected this theme throughout the event, creating a consistent message.
    Key takeaway: If you're trying to change the world (or anything else), make sure everyone knows why you’re in it to win it.
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The Age Of The Customer Will Drive Four Actions That Insurers Need To Take In 2016

Ellen Carney

Talk about interesting times in the business of insurance.  The year 2015 saw the attention-getting launch of Google Compare and its hibernation about 12 months later.  Traditional insurers like Mass Mutual and Shelter Mutual got busy and launched their own direct-to-consumer digital quoting and sales businesses.  State Farm was busy filing patents for by-the-trip car insurance and the means to measure just how stressed drivers were behind the wheel and rate their insurance accordingly. Prudential recognized that previously scary diseases were now chronic conditions that could be medically managed, launching life insurance coverage for HIV positive customers. AOL saw an opportunity and is now selling insurance to its members.  And we at Forrester have been busy keeping track of over 700 disrupters across FinTech that have been capturing market attention and venture capital. Some of these firms like Lemonade are returning to the social roots of insurance.   Lemonade's founders also  appreciate that consumers are irrational economic animals and decided to hire a  behavioral scientist to help them anticipate the crazy actions of homo sapiens.  And yet some people out there still call insurance a boring industry!

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No Change, No Gain: Stop Your Siloed Approach to Digital Measurement

Cinny Little

The number of tools, technologies, and techniques for measuring digital customer experience has exploded, but many firms continue to build out their growing capabilities in separate silos, such as campaign measurement, web analytics, mobile, social listening, voice of customer, online testing.  My colleague James McCormick and I have just published a report that lays out the full range of metrics of a mature digital intelligence measurement framework (see figure below).  Take a look.  How many of these measurements do you work with today?

Your firm may have capability to produce many - or all of these metrics - but are you using them to improve customer experience and business value?  Several vendors we’ve talked to recently, who represent a cross-section of digital measurement technologies and services, described what they hear about this from prospects and clients. A (scary) summary:  the firms report that they now have boatloads of data and a growing number of digital measurement technologies, mostly in silos  – but don’t think they’re getting enough value from what they have.  It’s as if some firms are paralyzed.  This can’t continue.  Operating silos of separate digital measurement approaches is not good enough any more. You risk falling behind competitors who are successfully combiningg approaches and continuously maturing their digital intelligence. 

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Facebook To Collect Brand-Sponsored Content Data

Ryan Skinner

An announcement late last week by the Facebook media team may have been overlooked by many marketers, but it has intriguing ramifications.

Facebook announced that it would effectively allow any organization with a verified page to publish brand-sponsored content without asking Facebook for explicit permission first, provided that content was tagged to the brand. They said:

Today we're updating our branded content policy to enable verified Pages to share branded content on Facebook. Along with changes to our branded content policy and ads policy, we're offering a new tool that makes it easy for publishers and influencers to tag a marketer when they publish branded content. Publishers and influencers must use this tag for all branded content shared on Facebook.

What does it mean?

  1. Facebook's going to have lots and lots of data on which publishers work with which brands and how that content performs across Facebook. This 'new tool' is at the very least a passive instrument (clocking events), with the opportunity to turn it into an active program (reporting and optimizing events). MarketingLand moots the idea that Facebook may in future ask for a cut of that relationship, which seems unlikely; why would Facebook double tax in a way that potentially supressed creation and thus, as a knock-on effect, suppressed the content's distribution, which is where Facebook is playing? Rather, Facebook would want to use the data to encourage more partnerships.
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Bots: The Next Big Thing In Mobile? Not So Fast.

Julie Ask

Everyone is buzzing this week about bots with Facebook/Messenger’s anticipated launch of bots on its messenger platform. What is a bot you ask? A bot is a chat-based interface that helps consumers complete tasks -- ordering take-out food, chatting with their doctors, or checking the score of a big sports game. Many believe that this next step -- bots in conversation with consumers -- is imminent. We agree, but not so fast.

There are a few trends playing in favor of bots becoming the next big user interface:

  1. Apps put a huge burden on consumers. The app ecosystem forces consumers to orchestrate getting the content and services that they need -- sometimes in a single app, most times through a composition of many. And this doesn’t even address individual app quality -- too many of them are simply awful. We're forced through processes translated from online that make no sense on the go or on our mobile phones.
  2. Bots foster natural communication. Having a bot is like having an assistant. You can chat with the bot, ask the bot to do things for you -- like order take-out or get a new lipstick. They are a natural extension of how we communicate and use our mobile phones.
  3. Consumers spend 84% of their time in just five apps each month. Chances are that one or two of those are social media, instant messaging,etc., as a handful of mobile giants like Facebook, Google and Apple in the US own a disproportionate number of customers mobile moments, measured both by time and data. Consumers are asking for a better experience.
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What Should I Order? A Tasting Menu Of Customer Analytics Techniques

Brandon Purcell

The primary objective of customer analytics is to transform data into valuable insights that impact organizational goals.  With an abundance of organizational goals, petabytes of data at their disposal, and a whole slew of potential techniques for analyzing that data, customer insights professionals often (quite ironically) find themselves in a state of analysis paralysis.

Forrester’s updated TechRadar™: Customer Analytics Methods, Q2 2016, originally published in 2014, aims to help CI pros by highlighting 15 customer analytics techniques their peers are using to extract insights from their data.  In this edition, we have emphasized the need for customer entity resolution, a foundational precursor to many of these techniques.  We have also broadened sentiment analysis to text analytics to reflect the move toward more actionable categorization of unstructured data.  And we have updated examples of relevant technology and services vendors, the estimated cost of implementation, and our assessment of where each technique sits on the analytics adoption curve.

The techniques run from descriptive to predictive, and employ structured, unstructured, and geospatial data.  Potential use cases run the customer lifecycle gamut from acquisition to personalization to loyalty and retention.  Since customer analyses don’t exist in a vacuum, the report describes the interrelationships and dependencies between different techniques. 

CI pros who face an ever-expanding list of stakeholder requests should use read this report to help plan and prioritize customer analytics projects.