FT Digital Media: Anguish Over Products

Ryan Skinner

Two ways media’s changing now, and two ways it’s going to change:

The FT Digital event in London last week pulled together some of the cream of the European media world. The big conclusion they were made privy to?

The media world will soon discover exactly how many ways you can skin a cat.

The old-fashioned way for media brands to skin a cat – make the content and license rights to distribute it, or advertise next to it – doesn’t work anymore as a standalone product. As a result, the business model experimentation we’ve seen so far in the media world is turning into business model explosion. Evidence: Half of the speakers and attendees at this media event wouldn’t have been at a media event at all only three or four years ago. Facebook. Shazam. BuzzFeed. And tech VCs, for example.

Two pieces of news exemplified changes taking place right now:
One, Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus (a virtual reality gaming device) forced discussion toward the value of a platform – the device is only as valuable as the community of developers creating remarkable content for it; tech and media companies alike need to take a platform approach to their assets.

Second, The New York Times’ launching of NYT Now – a premium version of the Times exclusively for smartphones – showed how media companies are bending themselves backward to divorce (call it “conscious uncoupling” if you will) resources from revenue. The mobile app will take a Facebook-like approach to making money by allowing advertisers to publish sponsored content in-feed.

And two discussions painted a picture of media’s future:

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Take Your eCommerce Business Global With Our New Playbook

Zia Daniell Wigder

eCommerce revenues are soaring around the globe. This year, the US, Western Europe, and China alone will generate over $800 billion in online retail sales. Growth rates, too, remain staggering in many countries: China’s massive online retail market will more than double between 2013 and 2018, as will Brazil’s. India’s much smaller market will grow by eight-fold during this timeframe.

However, a litany of businesses have failed as they attempted to tap into shoppers outside of their home markets, with many large US and European brands factoring prominently on the list of casualties. eCommerce is no exception: Numerous eCommerce businesses have taken the plunge into new markets, only to find their offerings didn’t resonate with local consumers or they were outsmarted by much savvier local rivals.

What separates successful global eCommerce businesses from their counterparts? Which tactics have proven particularly effective for brands aiming to extend their reach into new markets? What are some of the most common challenges businesses tend to encounter? Our newly published eCommerce globalization playbook helps brands through the thorny process of global expansion. Clients can read our playbook for insights on how to:

Discover and quantify international revenue opportunities. Our playbook includes reports outlining the global opportunity and identifying how eCommerce markets typically develop with time. Our online retail forecasts for the US and Canada, Western Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America provide a quantitative look at market sizes and eCommerce trends in these regions.

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Why Every Marketer Should Use Google Plus

Nate Elliott

Recently the New York Times called Google Plus a ‘ghost town,’ and most marketers agree. I understand why. Even if you believe Google’s own user count (many don’t), Google Plus has only one-quarter as many global users as Facebook. Nielsen says that while Facebook users spend more than six hours per month on site, Plus users spend only seven minutes per month on site. Put simply, Google Plus isn’t the Facebook killer some hoped it would be.

But that doesn’t mean marketers should ignore Plus. Far from it: I believe every marketer should use Google Plus.

Why?

First, Google Plus has more users than you think. Yes, it pales in comparison to Facebook — but so do most other social sites. Rather than trust Google’s own user data, we decided to run our own survey. We asked more than 60,000 US online adults which social sites they used — and 22% told us they visited Google Plus each month. That’s the same number who told us they use Twitter, and more than told us they use LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram. That means you can build a real follower base on Google Plus: On average, top brands have collected 90% as many fans on Plus as on Twitter. (In fact, the brands we studied have more followers on Google Plus than on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram combined.)

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Mind-Blowing Mobile Exit Events CONTINUE!

Julie Ask

My colleague Thomas Husson and I put together our 2014 mobile predictions. (See Report) One of the key predictions is:

 

Mobile will sit at the epicenter of mind-blowing exit events. The kernels of activity we saw in 2013 around mobile transactions will explode in 2014.
Those media companies that can't build audiences fast enough to capture spend of the Global 1000 will also look to acquisitions (think $3 billion for Snapchat).
What is mind-blowing is that neither Snapchat nor Instagram had a revenue stream when the bid or acquisition was announced.
In 2014, mobile companies with real revenue streams will go public. King.com (Candy Crush Saga) filed for an IPO with an estimated valuation of $1 billion based
on generating a couple of million dollars a day in revenue. What does King.com do? It monetizes mobile moments by taking advantage of the consumer's addiction to competition.

Mobile is moving so fast that that number is already dated. King started trading publicly on the NYSE Wednesday and part of the release was $1.9B in reported revenue in 2013 - way more than reported 8 months ago.

What happened this week?

1) Intel completed its acquisition of Basis Science - a wearable device - for a reported $100M to $150M. (See TechCrunch, VentureBeat)

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What’s Next For WeChat?

Xiaofeng Wang

As mobile messaging apps become increasingly popular across the globe, China’s WeChat (the top mobile social app in China, which has reportedly surpassed 600 million users) is often compared with other mobile messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Japan’s Line. Of all such apps, WeChat has the most complicated features; it goes beyond messaging and keeps adding new features and further evolving existing ones. Among the many possibilities, three stand out:

  • Exploring location-based business. Chinese consumers have been using WeChat’s QR code functionality for a while to get discounts and rewards from offline stores. WeChat also has an advanced scanning feature, the street view scanner (available for the Chinese version of WeChat 5.0 or higher only). The scanner not only shows street names but also nearby stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and other locations. WeChat has recently cooperated with Dianping (China’s Yelp) to upgrade its location check-in feature on Moments (WeChat’s timeline, on which users share photos and texts) from cities to specific stores. WeChat’s successful cooperation with taxi-hailing app Didi Dache has also enhanced its location-based capabilities. All of these features pave the way for WeChat to be able to provide location-based marketing.
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Customer Experience In Asia Pacific: More Advanced Than You Might Suspect

Harley Manning

For the past two weeks, I’ve been on the other side of the planet, spending a few days each in four very different cities: Sydney, Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai. While Sydney was much like I remembered it — an exotic version of San Francisco but with better weather — the Singapore skyline had changed drastically and now appears to be a science-fiction version of the seaport I remembered. (If you think I’m kidding, just do a search on “Marina Bay Sands Hotel.”)

In contrast to Sydney and Singapore, I hadn’t been to either Beijing or Shanghai before. I was blown away by how vibrant those cities are and how much prosperity is on display: If the Chinese economy is truly slowing down, you wouldn’t know it from all the luxury cars on the road.

Despite all the diversity I saw on my trip, for me, there was one constant across all four cities: the high level of interest in customer experience.

In Sydney, I gave talks about customer experience to three different groups of 20 to 40 people each. Even though the attendees came from very diverse companies — like insurers, quick-serve restaurants, technology vendors, and giant professional services firms — all three groups asked questions that showed this wasn’t their first CX rodeo. 

I also gave a speech to the digital team at a major bank, and as a bonus, I got to see the company’s chief experience officer give a talk. Frankly, there are a lot of US and European banks that could learn from that large, enthusiastic, clued-in group.

My time in Singapore started out with a customer experience ecosystem mapping workshop for around 35 people. This was also a diverse group, with varying levels of customer experience expertise, even among attendees from the same company. They all picked up on the concepts, though, and generated an impressive amount of insight. 

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Why eCommerce Needs A United eBay

Sucharita  Mulpuru

One of the biggest recent stories in the eCommerce media has been the talk of splitting eBay and PayPal, which was driven by activist investor Carl Icahn.  eBay maintains Mr. Icahn’s idea is not new, and that eBay’s board has rejected the notion based on its own previous evaluations of the best strategic paths for PayPal and eBay, saying now is not the time for separation.  Icahn has backed off his proposal for a full spin-off, now agreeing that a relatively small public offering of PayPal shares, say 20% would be sufficient after all. (eBay’s shareholders will vote on the proposal themselves on May 13.)  

For those of us in the eCommerce industry, there was largely a sense of head-scratching and general befuddlement as to why Mr. Icahn was targeting eBay and PayPal in the first place. Everyone in our industry knows that eBay’s purchase of PayPal back in 2002 is largely regarded as a categorical homerun and a textbook example of synergy executed right.  At its heart, PayPal gives eBay buyers a frictionless and trustworthy way to complete a transaction (perhaps THE single most important moment of truth in ecommerce) and eBay remains PayPal’s most important retail partner, a source of continued customer acquisition around the world, insight into the world’s most engaged shoppers and a funding source for innovation in payments. Those are the arguments on behalf of eBay shareholders, but the entire eCommerce industry in the US has an equally vested interest in keeping these two businesses together as the long-term impact on online retailers of a separate PayPal would be disastrous. Here are three reasons why: 

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A Confession: I Have A Crush On Candy Crush

Julie Ask

King had $1.9B in 2013 gross revenue with the majority coming from Candy Crush.

Wow.

I first heard of Candy Crush about a year ago. I was on vacation in Germany with my husband.  One of my friends – for context, she was a college roommate now a CTO at a Fortune 500 company in Silicon Valley – started chatting with me on Facebook. It dawned on me it was 2 am in California.  

Turns out she had worked late and was up playing Candy Crush.  I couldn’t get my head around what it was about this game that was keeping her from sleeping, but she explained, “It’s fun. It’s hard. The game keeps changing. It’s always challenging.”

I advised her to go back to sleep, but couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation. The analyst in me had to dig a bit further.

There are a number of publishers with big hits like Candy Crush. The business model for some lies in in-app revenue, which is why “free” downloads want your gender, age, mother’s maiden name and social security number. Others profit from a minority of users who make in-app purchases to do things like purchase more lives, buy weapons (other games), and send gifts to their friends and fellow players. What’s interesting?

1. It’s software on a connected device.

Users are able to continually update and expand the game. They can even personalize it to feed their particular addiction—keeping them coming back for more.

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Our Take On Lithium's Acquisition Of Klout

Kim Celestre

Today, Lithium officially announced its acquisition of Klout and its 60-plus employees. Klout has had its fair share of controversy over the years — primarily because its primary influence score tried to be a universal number, independent of context, and it provided limited offerings for marketers. So when the acquisition news leaked a few weeks ago, many of us who have been following both companies have been scratching our heads: Why would Lithium, a leading community platform vendor, spend hundreds of millions to scoop up Klout? Here is my and my colleague Zachary Reiss-Davis’ perspective on the acquisition:

  • Lithium claims that Klout will enable it to round out its social marketing offerings. Today, Lithium provides a robust community platform and a social engagement platform, providing marketers with solutions for establishing both depth and engagement. But the company lacks a solution to help marketers meet their reach objectives. According to Lithium, Klout will help it close this gap by enabling Lithium to implement future advocacy offerings and do so through Klout’s reach of 500-million-plus consumers. 
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Case Study Preview: Adopt Marketing Mix Modeling to Guide Future Investments

Tina Moffett

Consumers interact with brands across various mediums — their smartphones, computers, call center, in-store — just to name a few. Their interactions with brands — from viewing a TV ad to re-tweeting a promotion — are creating such a rich trove of data that marketers are left wondering: How do I glean relevant insights to optimize my marketing and media? Which channels should I optimize? How can I meet my growth goals while expanding into new, unfamiliar markets and channels? These questions keep marketers up at night; they are looking for best-in-class examples of measurement and analytics success. Well, look no further.

Our latest report, “Extract Business Value From Your Mix Model,” co-authored by Jim Nail, showcases USAA’s successful approach in leveraging marketing mix modeling to measure channel performance with greater precision and to identify and optimize future strategic investments, including marketing investments, product development, pricing structures, and organizational support. The report highlights USAA’s measurement and optimization challenges, how it used marketing mix to help refine metrics and identify the right levers to optimize business strategy and investments, and how it used the results to guide significant customer-driven changes at USAA. The case study is a good blueprint for firms that want to create a marketing mix model — and how to do it successfully!

We are thoroughly impressed by the analytics and marketing team at USAA; every decision made at the organization is driven by data and insights. Further, USAA is committed to using insights — including insights from its marketing mix model — to improve the overall customer experience.

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