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:
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.
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.)
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.
Just four months later, the debate seems to be over. Is there any doubt now that Facebook has abandoned social marketing, and that its paid ad products aren’t delivering results for most marketers? Consider:
Marketers can now reach just 6% of their fans organically. When we published our research, some brands were surprised to find that Facebook only delivered posts to 16% of their fans. In December a leaked sales deck revealed that Facebook was telling marketers they should expect organic distribution of posts to decline further — but few could guess how far and how fast that distribution would fall. This month, Ogilvy released data showing that the brand pages they manage reach just 6% of fans. For pages with more than 500,000 fans, Ogilvy says reach stands at just 2%.
Last week we published a report on how "data in, data out" practices are the future of social relationship platforms — and just a week later, Google has made a big bet on the "data out" side of that equation.
In the report, we say that "'data out' will prove the value of social and improve the rest of your marketing [. . .] [by] powering effective targeting in everything from banner ads to TV spots." Readers familiar with our research will know we're talking about the database of affinity: a catalogue of people's tastes and preferences, collected by observing their social behaviors, that could revolutionize brand advertising.
Well, last night, Google announced it was shifting the focus of its Wildfire division (previously a full-service social relationship platform) away from managing brands' profiles on social networks and toward extracting social data to help it better build the database of affinity.
For the past few years, Forrester has fielded a Global Mobile Executive Survey to understand and benchmark mobile initiatives. Last year, my colleague Julie Ask and I surveyed nearly 300 executives leading mobile initiatives within their enterprises.
To help business executives benchmark and mature their mobile strategy and services, we are updating this survey.
Planning and organizing for the use of mobile technologies is a complex task. Integrating mobile as part of a broader corporate strategy is even more complex. However, some players are leading the way and working on infrastructure, staffing, and competencies that are hard to see unless you look closely. If you want to understand the role that mobile is playing in various organizations, what their objectives are, how they measure the success of their mobile initiatives, and a lot more, you just have to share with us your own perspective and we will aggregate the answers.
For your efforts, we will share a free copy of the survey results.
If you’re in charge of your company's mobile consumer initiative or if you’re familiar with it, then please take this survey.
Or the David Ogilvy . . . or the Bill Bernbach . . . or the Rosser Reeves . . . or even the Lester Wunderman? All of these Mad Men played outsized roles in laying down the rules of advertising and marketing that have dominated the craft for the past half century.
I've been wondering more and more about who among today's marketing leaders will join this pantheon as I see marketing diverging from the tenets I was schooled in during my early ad agency career.
Apparently, Interpublic has decided that Howard Draft isn't among them, since they have removed his name from the door, reverting from Draftfcb to FCB -- or even the original Foote, Cone, Belding name. Their rationale was to simplify the name, but then they go on to say they will still append the geography (FCB Chicago), the specialty (FCB Health), the name of acquired agencies (FCB Inferno), or even "a highly respected creative leader" (FCB Garfinkel). Yeah, that's a lot simpler. And I guess a leader who takes the agency in a new direction and shakes up an entire industry doesn't make the cut. Sorry, Howard.
There are lots of reasons for this dissatisfaction, but the biggest is that most vendors just aren’t solving the problems that social relationship marketers face. Yesterday we published a new report detailing social relationship marketers' top challenges:
Measurement. Most just don't know what impact, if any, their Facebook pages and Twitter accounts have.
Content. Marketers struggle both to decide what type of content to publish, and then to find good content assets to use.
Staffing. Many say they just don't have enough human resources to handle the every tasks of social relationship marketing.
Scheduling. Marketers don't know when to post their content for maximum impact.
We evaluated established SRPs like Spredfast, Sprinklr, Shoutlet, Adobe Social, and salesforce.com’s Buddy Media, and found that none of them were good enough to fall into our “Leaders” category. Why? For one thing, most had significant gaps in their offerings.
But we also found that many of their customers weren’t terribly satisfied. Even though all the clients we spoke with were referred to us by the vendors themselves — and so presumably were amongst each SRP’s happiest customers — most had some reservations about the features, functionality, and service the vendors provided. In several cases, we were shocked by how little the reference clients thought of their technology partners.
One year later, we decided to check in on whether marketers had grown any more satisfied with their social relationship platforms. For a new report out today, we asked 56 marketers who used a variety of SRPs whether they’d recommend their vendor to a colleague — and found that overall, social relationship platforms have a Net Promoter Score of -16. Yes, that’s negative sixteen.
First, let’s consider the two grand theories of native advertising – the hedgehog positions:
1) Native advertising is the best thing that could have happened.
According to this theory, native advertising at last frees the world from interruptive or parasitic advertisements and allows both the publisher site and advertiser to work toward a shared goal: the best possible experience for the user or reader. Success will be measured directly by readers actually choosing to consume stuff from brands, which means it’ll all be worth more and publishers will earn a bigger cut.
2) Native advertising is the worst thing that could have happened.
According to this theory, native advertising depends fundamentally on confusing the reader into clicking on an advertisement by disguising it as unpaid site editorial. As a result, readers will lose their trust in the sites’ editorial integrity and abandon the site. This loss of integrity will destroy the halo effect, whereby a site’s editorial integrity reflects positively on the advertisers associated with it.
True hedgehogs could expound on these arguments at length (they have a tendency to do that), but I’ve represented the basic positions.