LeWeb: The Next 10 Years

Thomas Husson

What do all of these players have in common?

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.

Read more

Why WeChat Is Not A Good Marketing Tool — Yet

Xiaofeng Wang

WeChat (Weixin in Chinese), the hottest mobile social app in China, now has more than 600 million users. Because WeChat dominates mobile Internet usage, marketers are putting high expectations on its marketing potential. However, WeChat is not a good marketing tool yet for most brands, as it has several limitations:

  • WeChat has core features of privacy and one-to-one communications. User behavior on WeChat is very different from on Weibo. The information that users share on WeChat is private and can be seen only by personally approved friends; as a result, WeChat is used more as a communication tool for friends to keep in contact. Users are less likely to repost brands’ information massively, as marketers expect them to do on Weibo.
  • Branded accounts have restrictions in sending messages. There are two types of public accounts — service accounts and subscription accounts — that marketers can use to send one-to-many messages to their WeChat followers, but each type has restrictions. A service account has custom-menu functionality that works almost as a mini-site embedded in the WeChat platform, but it allows only one message per month. A subscription account allows, at most, two messages per day, but with less advanced functionalities. In addition, all subscription accounts are folded together, so it's hard for users to notice new messages.
Read more

Content Marketing Fortnight IV: Some content marketing insecurity

Ryan Skinner

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.)

Stealing content is in fact a crime
Blogger Mark Schaefer caught Verizon brazenly stealing his content (reprinting in full with no attribution, compensation or permission). It’s one of only instances of content theft he’s seen. Go ahead and curate content, but – by all means – attribute the source and don’t plagiarize it.

Content distribution space gets reaffirmation
OneSpot announced a recent $5+ million funding round to fund its mission to help businesses with a real, and common, problem: Getting their content in front of prospective customers. This is just the latest harbinger of a growing market for content distribution. Watch this space.

B2B buyers actually have emotions

Read more

Are Your Social Marketing Efforts Competitive In China?

Xiaofeng Wang

Too often, marketers wonder whether their social marketing efforts are keeping pace with those of their peers. Marketers in China are no exception. My most recent report, Benchmarking Social Marketing Efforts In China, will help them find the answer and optimize their social marketing strategies.

Overall, marketers in China show lots of faith in social media. Thirteen of 22 marketers we surveyed say they will increase their social media budget more than 25% in 2013 compared with 2012, and seven of them will increase it more than 50%.

However, they report only moderate satisfaction — on a scale of 1 (very dissatisfied) to 5 (very satisfied), we found an average satisfaction rating of 3.4 with the social tactics they are using and an average rating of 3.27 with social platforms. Based on these adoption and satisfaction ratings, we have categorized the social tactics and platforms that marketers use in China into four groups:

  • Essential: high adoption and satisfaction. These social tactics and platforms, such as branded social profiles and Sina Weibo, are marketers’ ideal choices.
  • Promising: low adoption but high satisfaction. These social tactics and platforms, such as Douban and reviews on companies’ own websites, are emerging, and their marketing value is not yet proven, but satisfaction among marketers now using them bodes well.
  • Overvalued: high adoption but low satisfaction. These social tactics and platforms, such as Renren, while widely used, fall short of marketers’ expectations.
Read more

Rise of the Content Distribution Space

Ryan Skinner

This morning’s announcement by OneSpot – a company that helps marketers place their content in front of relevant buyers through display advertising – of series A financing to the tune of $5.3 million may pale next to recent multibillion IPOs and valuations, but it says a lot about a new space opening up: content distribution.

While OneSpot and Resonance HQ (which offers a similar service) drive content engagement through banner ads, native advertising or sponsored content puts branded content straight into digital publishers’ editorial mix (often with “sponsored by” or “sponsor content” next to it). Vendors like Outbrain, Taboola, AdBlade, Sharethrough, LinkSmart, Nativo, Media Voice and AdsNative are vying for a $2 billion per year native advertising market that’s growing by as much as 20% year on year.

Add to this the plays by Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter that allow marketers to purchase visibility for their content in certain users’ timelines. For both Facebook and twitter, this is their only source of revenue for a growing proportion of mobile users, and it looks like Wall Street may be rewarding them for this mobile-driven success.

Read more

DVRs vs Online Video: Which Will Win the Battle for Consumer Viewing Time?

Jim Nail

Since the introduction of the DVR more than a decade ago, consumers have learned they don't have to conform their lives to broadcast programmers' schedules in order to watch their favorite TV shows.

Along come online sources like HuluPlus, or the network's own websites promise even more convenience: Get any episode of any show with no need to remember to record it. But adoption is hampered by the awkward viewing experience of the cramped screens of laptops, tablets, and smartphones.

Welcome to TV viewing in the Age of the Customer. Consumers want their favorite shows when they want them, on their preferred device, with little or no effort on their part.

Linear TV, DVRs and today's online viewing experience all fail on at least one of these dimensions. Viewers increasingly cobble together a mix of sources and devices to create this level of convenience, and each of these players vies to capture more of viewers' time by improving its offering.

In my new report, "How Online Video Will Challenge DVRs' Role," I delve into how these two sources of video entertainment vie to meet consumers' increasing expectations. DVRs have the advantage of incumbency, while online viewing offers greater flexibility.

Let the battle begin!

Content Marketing Fortnight III: On acquisitions, trust and beauty

Ryan Skinner

Here’s your fortnightly round-up of the best of the best stuff online for marketers who think about content. (For more information about what the Content Marketing Fortnight is, see my intro from the first one. And, if you want to get this curated newsletter in your inbox every other week, send me a mail.)

Content marketing’s shot heard round the world
Nothing affirms a new approach to marketing more than the big-ticket acquisition of a technology company enabling that approach. Thus Oracle’s acquisition of content marketing software platform Compendium lit up the content marketing world this month. What will come of this? For one, vendors in and around the content marketing space will try to add Compendium-like features (if they don’t already have them). And the “content is a business asset” argument will get a big boost.

Beauty: Not vanity, but business

Read more

New iPad Air And iPad Mini Will Maintain Apple's Premium Positioning In The Increasingly Competitive Tablet Market

Thomas Husson

As it did for the iPhone 5S and 5C, Apple has tweaked its product portfolio with two new products to maintain premium positioning in an increasingly competitive tablet market. Both the iPad mini 2 (starting at $399) with Retina display and the iPad Air (starting at $499), which is thinner (43% thinner than the iPad 4), lighter, and faster (with a super-fast A7 chip) are great additions to the iPad product portfolio and come with new colors and covers. As always with Apple, expectations on systematic breakthrough hardware innovations are irrational. Apple is good at inventing new products (e.g., iPod, iPhone, or iPad) and at maximizing profitability of its product range over time through software innovations and clever marketing. Yes, at some point, the company will need to disrupt a new market once again, but today’s announcement is really about making sure it maintains the premium brand experience for the holiday season when competition is heating up — not just for tablets but also for the amazing new line of Mac products.

Competition is heating up

Read more

The Mobile War Is Not Over

Thomas Husson

Let’s step back to January 2007. Do you remember what your job was at that time? I was already an industry analyst covering mobility, and at that time, the space was less fascinating to cover. Back in January 2007, Google had acquired YouTube for $1.65 billion only a couple of months before. Android did not exist. The iPhone did not exist. Twitter did not exist. Facebook was only a couple of months old as an open public website. Nokia had a market valuation of around $120 billion, and its share of the global smartphone market was above 45%. BlackBerry – then the leader in enterprise mobility solutions – had initiated a move in the consumer space with the BlackBerry Pearl.

Less than seven years later, Google has activated more than 1 billion Android devices, and Apple will soon pass the 700 million iOS devices mark. YouTube now has more than one billion users globally and generates 40% of its traffic from mobile devices. Facebook has 1.2 billion users and generates 41% of its ad revenues from smartphones and tablets (it could even reach 50% in Q3 2013; Facebook discloses its financial results on October 30). Twitter has more than 230 million users and generates more than 70% of its revenue via mobile.

Read more

Beyond Push Notifications: Mobile As The New Holy Grail Of One-To-One Marketing?

Thomas Husson

Push notifications make the most of mobile marketing’s unique attributes: intimacy, immediacy, and context. When consumers opt in to receive push notifications, it means they trust you to the point of giving you permission to contact them on their most personal devices. If your messages are not relevant, you will lose your best customers.

Our research shows that consumers who receive push notifications are also the heaviest app users. However, to avoid being spammed with irrelevant messages, consumers increasingly want to be in control, setting preferences on the types of messages they want to receive and when they want to receive them.

While push notifications enable better engagement, the challenge for marketers will be to think beyond just push notifications for smartphone apps. Push notifications already extend messaging to other connected devices. How will push notifications complement email, SMS, and in-app messaging? How will performance from various direct marketing channels evolve?

To differentiate, marketers will have to integrate push into cross-channel and CRM platforms and integrate mobile as a variable of their customer base. Marketing vendors will have to add new messaging platforms, like push notifications, into their core offerings, pushing for another wave of consolidation highlighted by the recent acquisition of Xtify by IBM.

Read more