On the heels of ad-centric Super Bowl Sunday, we just completed a report based on our survey of 104 national advertisers in a joint study with the ANA, fielded in December 2009 and January 2010. The results illustrate marketers’ continued lack of confidence in the effectiveness of television ads.
Forrester just kicked-off our first-ever Australian Online Retailing Study. This survey looks at Australian online and multichannel retailers' organizations and topics relevant to the challenges currently facing their roles including:
First of all, I’d like to extend a big “Thank You” to my readers and followers who responded to an invitation last month to participate in the 2010 B2B Marketing Budgets and Mix survey that Forrester fielded together with MarketingProfs. Without your responses, the research would not be as broad or relevant — so thank you again!
After closing the survey and digesting some of the results, I was really surprised by one finding. After reviewing our process and validating the data, my researcher, Zack Reiss-Davis, and I believe that the result is not a technical problem with the survey instrument nor its execution. I decided to share what we found and get your thoughts on why B2B marketers may have answered the question as they did.
In January 2010, we found that 65% of the 249 B2B marketers we surveyed at firms with 50 or more employees use inside sales/telesales as part of the marketing mix. This percentage is slightly greater, but not dissimilar, to what we found in early 2009 (62% said they use inside sales).
Of the 65% who use inside sales, 34% said they found it “highly effective” for driving brand awareness. Brand awareness? Really?!? That’s on par with webcasts/webinars and the company Web site for effectively building brand, according to the same survey respondents.
“Cloud computing” is a very hot topic, and like social media, subject to much debate about “what is cloud computing?” and “what does it mean for business?” Simply stated, cloud computing lets your customers and potential buyers take advantage of services and resources delivered as an online utility. Buyers get the benefits of using your technology without worrying about the technical details as much as they would if they implemented software inside their data centers.
Marketers - pay attention. This is an example that seems great in theory, but the "devil is in the details" of the implementation so to speak. This is among the top inquiries I hear from clients, "what do you think about 2D barcodes or QR codes as a means of connecting with customers?" I took this inquiry from a CPG client just a couple of weeks ago. I laid out the challenges. Their response was, "well, we're doing it anyway." Piloting is good - just go into it with your eyes wide open.
It was a surprising weekend for those of us who had naively imagined that after crossing the River iPad, we might actually get some Elysian rest. But, alas, the fates conspired against us and handed us the curious case of Amazon vs. Macmillan. Or Macmillan vs. Amazon?
For those who actually took the weekend off, let me summarize what happened. John Sargeant, the CEO of Macmillan Books, gave Amazon a wee-bit of an ultimatum: switch from a wholesale sell-through model, where Amazon buys digital books at a fixed wholesale rate and then can choose to sell those books at whatever price it deems appropriate (even at a loss, as it does with $9.99 bestsellers), to an agency model, where Amazon agrees to sell at a price set by the publisher in exchange for a 30% agency fee. Sargeant explained to Amazon that if it did not agree to the switch, Macmillan Books would make its eBooks subject to significant "windowing" wherein new books are held back from the digital store for some period, say six months, while hardback books are sold in stores and possibly, digital copies are sold through the iPad at $14.99.
This is more detail than we usually know about a negotiation like this because of what happened next. Sargeant got off of a plane on Friday only to discover that Amazon had responded by pulling all Macmillan books from the Kindle store as well as from Amazon.com. He then decided to make it clear to the industry (and his authors) that this drastic action was Amazon's fault, in a paid advertisement in a special Sunday edition of Publishers Lunch.
New technologies follow a pattern. They start by imitating older technologies before they evolve to their true forms. The first automobiles looked like horseless carriages. It wasn't until the Vintage Era of the 1920's that cars evolved to a form that we'd recognize today with features like front-engines, enclosed cabs, and electric starters. Televisions started off copying radios - they looked more like an armoire with a small screen stuck on the front.
In the process of working on my latest piece of research, it became clear that the Web has followed a similar pattern. Early sites imitated a much older medium - paper. And even though 'web page' still dominates our thinking, online experiences have begun to evolve away from the page-based metaphor. In the next 5 years, the evolution of online experiences toward their true form is about to take off at a much faster rate than in the previous 5 years.
Consider that today's default Web platform - a browser running on a PC - is rapidly giving way to diverse online environments. The types of devices we use to connect to the Web are proliferating. In addition to the growth of netbook adoption, there are new devices like the Chumby and the Energy Joule. Portable devices are rapidly getting more powerful - as a result, the tradeoff between mobility and capability is shrinking. And even as the hardware evolves, the interfaces on the devices we use to connect to the Web are becoming more and more customizable. And the reason any of this matters at all is because consumers are already adopting these technologies.
So what are the implications of these trends? What does it mean for the future of online experiences? At Forrester, we've concluded that the resulting online customer experiences of the future will be:
Netbooks are one of the hottest consumer product categories in the consumer technology industry at this moment - at least from an industry perspective. And yesterday, after Apple's iPad announcement, consumer electronics analysts immediately started commenting and sharing their views via blogs, and twitter.
But what I've been missing is the consumer view. Let's take a look at how interested consumers are in small computers like netbooks in general, and how this has changed in the past year.
Note: I realize that the industry may not see the iPad as a netbook but both the netbook and the iPad serve the same consumer need: an easy to carry, multifunctional mobile Internet device. So consumers are likely to compare and contrast them in the product purchase consideration cycle.
What we see is that consumers are mostly interested in netbooks as a second or third PC that they could use while on the go, or that they consider giving one to their children. Netbooks serve a distinct purpose, for more insight please see the report 'Netbooks Are The Third PC Form Factor' by my colleague J.P. Gownder.