Forrester analysts are encouraged to “make the call” and here’s a call that is sure to invite some heated disagreement (native advertising has a way of doing that).
Today my report about native advertising came out and, if I had to bottle up the recommendation of the entire report in a two-word slogan, this would be it: Worth pursuing. That’s not “pour all your advertising dollars into it”, “go hog wild!” or any variant on that theme. By “worth pursuing”, I would say that it: a) is a very imperfect tactic, b) holds great promise, and c) requires some experience to get right.
(First of all, if you’re not sure what native advertising is, quickly go here [definition] or here [examples]).
Let’s start by assessing the promise of native advertising. What’s so great about it?
From a marketer’s perspective, the opportunity to go from a position “next to the show”, “interrupting the show” or “between the shows”, to “part and parcel of the show” is extraordinary. The church/state editorial wall that media outlets have trained advertisers to respect has become porous, and it’s the outlets themselves who are pounding holes in it (most recently, the New York Times). That change should not be underestimated.
We're now accepting entries for the 2014 Forrester Groundswell Awards — the deadline is February 28 — and we'd love to recognize your social marketing programs at our Marketing Leadership Forum this April. But in what category should you submit your program?
Just as in 2013, our award categories are based on Forrester’s marketing RaDaR research. Both our business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) awards will offer three categories:
Social reach. This category recognizes social programs that delivered marketing messages to new audiences. (After all, people can’t discover what you’re selling if they’re never exposed to it.) If your social program was designed to create awareness for your brand or product or promotion, it was probably an example of social reach marketing. If you focused your efforts on word-of-mouth marketing, paid social advertising, or thought leadership work, it also probably fits into this category.
Social depth. This category recognizes social programs that helped prospects explore your products in detail and make a purchase decision. If your social program was designed to close existing prospects or leads, it was probably an example of social depth marketing. If you focused your efforts on on-site social tools like blogs, ratings and reviews, or communities that help prospects get information from existing customers, it also probably fits into this category.
During 2014, we’ll pass a key milestone: an installed base of 2 billion smartphones globally. Mobile is becoming not only the new digital hub but also the bridge to the physical world. That’s why mobile will affect more than just your digital operations — it will transform your entire business. 2014 will be the year that companies increase investments to transform their businesses, with mobile as a focal point.
Let’s highlight a few of the mobile trends that we predict for 2014:
Competitive advantage in mobile will shift from experience design to big data and analytics. Mobile is transformative but only if you can engage your consumers in their exact moment of need with the right services, content, or information. Not only do you need to understand their context in that moment but you also need insights gleaned from data over time to know how to best serve them in that moment.
Mobile contextual data will offer deep customer insights — beyond mobile. Mobile is a key driver of big data. Most advanced marketers will get that mobile’s value as a marketing tool will be measured by more than just the effectiveness of marketing to people on mobile websites or apps. They will start evaluating mobile’s impact on other channels.
Every year for the past few years, I've revisited our predictions for the previous year's mobile trends. It's now time to look back at 2013 and, specifically, at the 2013 mobile trends post I put together a year ago with my colleague Julie Ask.
So many things happened in 2013, making it difficult to sum up the year overall. BlackBerry’s struggle and Microsoft’s acquisition of Nokia devices offered apt symbols for the end of the old mobile era. However, the mobile war is far from over. Following marketers’ integration of mobile into the mix, many vendors started to acquire mobile expertise, technology, and resources — and those acquisitions are far from over. Players like Facebook that acknowledged their past mistakes and turned into mobile-first companies managed to generate significant revenues; mobile now represents more than 40% of Facebook's ad revenues.
Let’s take a look at some of the key trends we highlighted last year. We expected that:
Every year since 2007, Forrester has recognized the very best social marketing programs from around the world — and I’m thrilled to announce we’re now accepting entries for the eighth annual Forrester Groundswell Awards.
The rules are simple: Entries should represent the effective use of social technologies to advance an organizational goal. The more data you can offer to prove this, the better your chances of winning. You can enter using our online form. If you win, you get a nice shiny trophy, a winner’s badge for your website, and lots of recognition from Forrester.
And this year’s deadline is February 28, 2014. (We've changed our timeline this year so that we can give out the awards at our 2014 Marketing Leadership Forum in San Francisco in April.)
So which categories should you enter? See our video for more details:
Remember: The deadline is February 28. You’ve got eight weeks to prepare and submit your company’s best social work. We look forward to your entries!
Last year we introduced a concept called the Database of Affinity — a catalogue of people's tastes and preferences collected by observing their social behaviors — and proposed that the greatest marketing value of social media won't come from marketing to people on social sites, but rather using this database of affinity to improve the marketing that happens everywhere else. And in 2013, several social networks started to pursue this opportunity: For instance, Facebook launched an artificial intelligence research team and Google started selling "affinity segments" targeting on its properties.
But are social sites going too far in their effort to build the database of affinity? Perhaps. Recently we've seen reports that some social networks are tracking not just the information that you choose to share, but even information you choose not to share. For instance, Facebook has admitted to studying "aborted posts" — the things people type into Facebook (as status updates, in comments, and on other people's timelines) but then choose not to post. Likewise, both Google and Foursquare apparently use their mobile apps track users' locations at all times, even when people aren't actively using those company's apps.
What’s happening (that’s important) in the world of content marketing? This is your fortnightly* round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content; for the previous “Fortnights”, go to the bottom of the post. (And for more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. Get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week – send me a mail.)
IAB publishes content marketing primer
Set up simultaneously with its native advertising task force (see below), the IAB’s content marketing task force has produced a content marketing primer. It is by no means sexy or compelling for content marketing practitioners, but it does give them a succinct, 6-page tool to explain the basics of content marketing (as well as a tacit endorsement from the IAB) for stakeholders.
IAB drops native advertising playbook same day as FTC workshop
Today we’re publishing two reports exploring the current state of online video advertising, one focused on US and Canada and a second on Europe. This is a piece of research Forrester has conducted periodically over the past five years, allowing us to map the growth of the medium as it has risen to become a major component of the marketing plans for many brands, and this long-term perspective has allowed us to identify both the good practices and the bad habits that have taken root in the practice.
Amongst the positive elements are:
Many publishers now take great care to ensure that video content on their site is presented in an uncluttered fashion. This is allowing marketers who’ve bought in-stream ads access to consumers without having to compete against a barrage of banners on the same page.
Publishers in the US are leading the way here in delivering ‘clean’ viewing experiences – The New York Times and USA Today are good examples of how to present video in a way that benefits both advertisers and consumers.
The adoption of interactive ad formats has also gathered pace, bringing new and engaging approaches to in-stream video ads and facilitating a break from a ‘TV-lite’ medium toward something with its own creative boundaries to play with.
Most of them are US startups initially backed by venture capital (VC). Some of them are now worth more than $1 billion; others are planning for an IPO; and a couple of them have been acquired for a lot of money while generating little (if any) revenue. Most originated in social media, in the collaborative economy, and pretty much all of them depend on mobile as a significant and growing part of their business. They represent the typical attendees at the LeWeb conference in Paris, looking to become the next Facebook or Amazon in the next 10 years. Some other smaller and less well-known startups competing in LeWeb's startup competition this year may join this list: http://paris.leweb.co/programme/startup-competition
In fact, what they really have in common is that they are all digital disruptors leveraging digital platforms to create new experiences on top of connected devices. They are taking advantage of open development tools and free infrastructure resources to overhaul products, invert category economics, and redefine customer relationships. They are more agile than traditional companies. As my colleague James L. McQuivey stated recently, digital disruption requires an organizational fix if you don’t want your company to be disrupted.