Blind Pursuit Of Engagement Is Hurting Marketers

Samantha Merlivat

Intuitively, it makes sense that if a consumer engages with a brand’s ad or marketing message, this should count as a positive outcome. Yet, we’ve spoken to a number of marketers and measurement companies that found that optimizing for engagement ultimately did not help them drive positive business outcomes – instead leading them to waste time and media dollars on the wrong users.

 

The issue we keep encountering in discussions around engagement is that advertisers count interactions – clicks, shares, likes, comments, views – as proxies for engagement. There’s no clear link between these individual actions and what they are really trying to measure: are their messages moving consumers along their path to purchase, by driving either brand preference or sales?

 

Tina Moffett and I decided to investigate:

 

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Marketers Are Measuring Engagement All Wrong

Tina Moffett

Over the course of my career as a marketing analytics practitioner and as a Forrester analyst, I’ve tried to tackle some of the most pressing questions around measuring marketing’s effectiveness. I’ve seen a recent surge in marketers using the metric “engagement” as a way to measure marketing success. When I start to question what they mean by the term “engagement” and how they measure it, I’m often met with a flurry of answers, including a running list of metrics, such as likes, shares, or time spent on the site, that marketers Read more

Adtech & Martech or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Convergence

Joe Stanhope

Few topics get more air time in marketing circles than adtech and martech convergence. The commentary spans a spectrum ranging from attempts to agree upon the deceptively simple semantics of adtech and martech (which usually ends when everyone throws up their hands and concedes that it is simply madtech) to existential examinations of the future of marketing itself. 

Some reactions to looming convergence approach satire, sometimes even intentionally. Like the war room bound leaders in Dr. Strangelove, we wonder: Are we heading for mutually assured destruction? Is somebody harboring a doomsday device? Have our deterrents been rendered useless? Which side will strike first? Who’s really in charge?

 Source: IMDB

Yet these questions are surprisingly apt in the context of convergence. It should surprise no-one that adtech and martech convergence evokes strong feelings. Modern marketing is a technology-driven discipline, and any widespread change will reverberate throughout the ecosystem. Convergence impacts the future of thousands of vendors (and their investors). It affects day-to-day marketing operations for tens of thousands of brands (and their agencies). The excitement, mystery, and controversy surrounding convergence speaks volumes about the marketing industry’s collective aspirations and fears. 

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US Digital Marketing Spend Will Near $120 Billion By 2021

Shar VanBoskirk

Hot off the press: Forrester’s US Digital Marketing Forecast 2016 To 2021.  I’m proud to say that Forrester has been sizing spend on online and digital media for nearly twenty years.  My colleague Jim Nail launched this research in 1998, and I have been authoring our forecast reports since 2004.  Good thing neither Jim nor I has aged a day!  This time, the key finding from our research is that over the next five years, marketers will invest in quality over quantity.  What does this mean specifically for digital marketing budgets?

  • US digital marketing spend will near $120 billion by 2021.  Investment in paid search, display advertising, social media advertising, online video advertising and email marketing will pace to 46% of all advertising in five years. 
  • Working budgets will give ground to non-working ones.  Overall, digital marketing is pacing at a healthy 11% compound annual growth rate between now and 2021.  But this is not the experimental “spend on anything to see what works” investment that we saw between 2008-2012.  Marketers are more mature now with capable measurement practices. This means they will spend judiciously on just what works for their goals.  And many are dialing back pure digital advertising investment, prioritizing instead non-working investments in data, technology and customer experience.
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Case Study: Increasing Customers’ Loyalty With Social CRM

Xiaofeng Wang

It’s increasingly challenging for marketers to earn loyalty as empowered consumers become entitled customers with more options than ever before. My latest report, Case Study: Max Factor China Rejuvenates Customers’ Loyalty With Social CRM, tells marketers how to leverage social CRM to define an effective loyalty strategy that spans the entire customer life cycle, across channels.

The US cosmetics brand Max Factor has been growing its business steadily since it entered the Chinese market in 2009. However, Max Factor has faced growing challenges in recent years:

  • An increase in competition from incumbent and new competitors.
  • A decline in new members and average member value.
  • An incomplete understanding of customers’ purchasing and engagement behaviors.
  • A confusing loyalty program unfit for the digital age.
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Fake News Challenges Brands' Equity

Susan Bidel

Brand equity is a precious thing. It takes years to build and can be damaged in a heartbeat by unforeseen events, like product breakdown, and ill-considered marketing strategy. Smart marketers exercise control over how, where, and when their product or service is seen in order to safeguard their brand investment.

The tools and partnerships that marketers must rely on to buy media and execute programmatically preclude the kind of control that marketers expect and exercise in other channels. The result is that they cannot get a comprehensive list of sites where their ads appear. While they can require white- and black lists, without the final recap they have no way to determine whether or not their requirements were met.  

What’s more, marketers can no longer assume that their ad placements within walled gardens won’t be compromised. The challenge of determining what is and isn’t valid content continues.

In the past few months, several major brands have conceded that, unbeknownst to them, their ads have appeared on inappropriate sites. They learned of these placements not from their programmatic partners, but from discontented customers, which is a marketer’s worst nightmare.

This is not a situation that can be changed overnight. It’s a challenge that marketers must lay down to themselves and their programmatic partners in order to protect the brand equity they have so thoughtfully built over time.

Read this report (client access only) to learn more about how to protect your brands from the wrong context, and let us know what you think. Fake News: More Proof That Advertisers Must Choose Quality Over Quantity

US Marketers Spent More Than $10 Billion On Content In 2016

Ryan Skinner

I've always dismissed efforts to size the 'content marketing market'. The definition of content marketing's very squirrelly, meaning:

a) if you size it including A, B, and C, then people will invariably say it should also include D, E, and F (but not B, or C), and
b) if you ask marketers to give you a number, then you're at the mercy of however each marketer defines it (combining apples and oranges).

Last year, when setting up our big annual survey of marketing leaders, we sidestepped the definition mine-fields by asking marketers to tell us how much of their budgets would go to content creation. Taking that data and applying some approximations (% of revenue going to marketing budget and total domestic industrial revenues) gets you to my headline figure: $10 billion spent on content (all of it, not just 'pull content', 'media content', or whatever content ghetto you want to define) in the US in 2016. Considering US GDP is about one-quarter of global GDP, that brings us to a ballpark figure of $40 billion annually in global marketing content spend in 2016.

The figure's admittedly a ballpark estimate, but at least it describes clearly what it contains (marketing content), and it's pleasingly well lower than other, more hyperbolic estimates for content marketing that I've seen bandied about.

For those with Forrester access who want to dive a bit deeper into spending figures, see the full content spending report.

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What Advertisers Must Do Now To Counter The “Fake News” Phenomenon

Carlton Doty

My colleagues Melissa Parrish, Richard Joyce, Susan Bidel and I spent a lot of time since the US Presidential election researching the effect of the so-called “fake news” epidemic. Why is this so prominent, and why now? The truth is this 2016 election cycle shed an enormous spotlight on a nagging problem for advertisers that existed long before the era of WikiLeaks, PizzaGate, and Breitbart News Network

Today we revealed a new report that assesses the challenge ahead for advertisers, outlines the risks to brands, and provides a prescription for how to protect the ever-increasing budgets that continue to funnel into programmatic advertising.  For the details, read the full report (client access only): Fake News: More Proof That Advertisers Must Choose Quality Over Quantity.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Don’t confuse satire or opinion with fabrication. Understand the difference between what is blatantly fabricated with ill intent vs. satirical (e.g. The Onion) or opinion-based publications. The risk to your brand differs across this spectrum, and so must your mitigation tactics.  
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There Are No "Right" Social KPIs

Jessica Liu

44% of marketers say they haven't been able to show the impact of social at all and another 36% say they have a good sense of the qualitative, but not quantitative, impact of social initiatives. Marketers feel stuck with engagement metrics that don't tell them anything about the business impact of their social programs. And, some fall victim to thinking there is an industry standard set of KPIs that will reveal their social impact in relation to other brands.  
 
The Forrester Social Marketing Playbook's Performance Management chapter guides marketers on how to measure social programs. To get a decent picture of your social programs' performance, measure three types:
 
  1. Business impact: Show social programs' deepest value. The hardest type of social measurement is also the most important. This is the quantitative view of your social efforts that matter most to executives. Start by measuring attribution to assign a proportion of revenue to social programs or measuring social's impact on brand health.   
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European consumers may be active on social networks – but does that mean they use social in their path to purchase?

Samantha Merlivat
To understand how open customers are to receiving messages from brands in social media, the question has to shift from “How social are our customers?” to “How social are our customers in their path to purchase?” 
 
Given the amount of time consumers spend on social networks, marketers intuitively know they need to be present on social media but many still struggle to pin point exactly:
 
  • Why they need a social presence - or rather, how they can be relevant on social media,
  • How much resources to invest in social media,
  • And where to invest these resources.
 
Forrester has developed the Social Technographics Framework to help marketers address exactly these questions. Using Forrester data to analyze the social behavior of various consumer groups and their inclination to use social touchpoints in their interactions with brands, the framework helps marketers determine:
 
  1. How important social media should be to their marketing plan
  2. When their audiences rely on social touchpoints in their customer journey 
  3. What social touchpoints their audiences use, and to what ends 
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