A Discussion With Google On Search Marketing Agencies

Shar VanBoskirk

I had breakfast yesterday with John Nicoletti, head of agency operations, and Dave Tan, head of SEM development for Google. They manage Google's relationships with search marketing agencies — updating them on what Google is working on and supporting the paid search business they manage with on behalf of marketers.

We chatted a bit about the findings from my recent Search Marketing Agency Wave, and John and Dave shared with me trends and differentiators they observe from their work with agencies.  Here are our collective observations:

  • Technology doesn't differentiate agencies; how agencies use technology does. My wave does include automation as a point of differentiation in a lot of critiera. But to be clear, I don't think automation for the sake of automation is what makes an agency good. Nor does the technology enabling the automation need to be a proprietary tool developed by the agency. I'm agnostic when it comes to what tools an agency uses.  What I care about is if the agency uses technology to improve processes, scalability, efficiency, and effectiveness of marketer search programs.

    John and Dave pointed out — and I agree — that the features and functionality of search management technologies are universally very similar. The value to the marketer comes in how these tools are used to improve their overall performance and visibility.
     

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Four Reasons Interactive Marketing Is Ready To Lead Your Brand

Nate Elliott

Brand marketers don’t spend much online. It’s been a long-time frustration for me, but it’s undeniably true: According to our most recent interactive marketing forecast, marketers in brand categories spend less than half as much of their marketing budgets online as marketers in direct response categories. Brand marketers also continue to spend a huge portion of their marketing budgets on TV.

I’ll be honest: Five or 10 years ago, this made sense. Although lot of us were shouting from the rooftops back in 2000 about the scale and power of the Internet, the truth is back then its scale and power were relatively limited. The majority of the population still wasn’t online, Internet usage averaged only a few hours per week, and the brand stories we could tell online were constrained by both tiny banner ads (anyone remember "half banners"?) and tiny bandwidth (broadband access, and with it online video and other rich creative, was years away from the mainstream).

In that environment, it made sense that TV was by far marketers’ most important channel for building brand. After all, it offered brand marketers by far the largest media opportunity (more total users, and way more total hours, than any other media channel) and by far the richest brand impact of any platform. Marketers would have had little choice even if they wanted it: 30-second TV spots were the be-all and end-all of how they explained the meaning of the brands, and all other channels — online, radio, print, outdoor, and everything else — were simply a chance to reinforce the messaging in the TV spots.

But the conditions that made TV the de facto heart of our brand messaging no longer exist. Today, interactive marketing is ready to lead your brand campaigns, for four key reasons:

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Mobile Payments Enter A Disruptive Phase

Thomas Husson

A recent article in The Wall Street Journal mentioned that Google could team up with MasterCard and Citigroup to pursue a role in mobile payments; this is yet another indication that disruption is looming in the payment space.

In his keynote at 2011’s Mobile World Congress, Google CEO Eric Schmidt stated that “NFC should revolutionize electronic commerce as well as payments.”

What does Google have to do with payments? Well, it has already rolled out (quite unsuccessfully so far) Google Checkout. What’s different about this new proposal is that this is not just about payments: Google would embed Near Field Communication (NFC) technology in Android mobile devices, allowing consumers to make purchases by waving their smartphones in front of a small reader at checkout counters. So what? Well, NFC is more than just a payment technology; it brings mobile payments together with mobile marketing and loyalty programs. As with mobile devices in general, it helps bridge the digital and physical worlds.

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Friday Afternoon Brainstorm: What's The Best Digital Branding Effort You've Ever Seen?

Nate Elliott

I've been talking a lot lately about how to build great digital branding programs, and it's gotten me thinking about the best ones I've ever seen. Remember the Ford Explorer home page takeover on Yahoo from years ago, that actually shook the browser window as the truck drove across the screen? (It's so old I can't even find a screen shot of it online.) Apple reprised the idea for an iPod program about 18 months ago — as have many others — but the Ford one was both more amazing (I mean, the browser shook) and one of the first that really got people talking. It was incredibly bold in its creative execution but also in its media buy (while there's nothing special about buying home page advertising on the then-biggest website, just think about the monetary bet they put on that buy! It must've cost a fortune).

The Audi program that won a Forrester Groundswell Award last year was fantastic too — using a combination of online content and social media to raise awareness of the automaker's new A1 model. Why? It gave users a customized impression of the new brand (by letting them customize the car) and it was intelligently distributed through a huge number of social channels.

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Q&A With Dana Anderson, SVP Of Marketing, Strategy, And Communications At Kraft Foods

Christine Overby

I am so pumped that Dana Anderson is speaking at the Forrester 2011 Marketing Forum in early April. Dana is Kraft Foods’ Senior Vice President of Marketing, Strategy, and Communications, and she’s one smart lady. She works across the Kraft portfolio to bring fresh marketing ideas and innovation to icons like Oreo and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Dana also has a wicked sense of humor. Her keynote “The Bad Boys’ Guide To Digital Bliss” will illustrate what marketers can learn from Robert Downey Jr. and Jay-Z – not your usual marketing role models!

I asked Dana a few questions on how to drive digital change in a traditional organization. Her answers point to both the fundamental shifts that will characterize the next decade and the perennial truths of marketing (great ideas start with great teams). We hope you can make it to San Francisco to hear more . . .

CO: What are the biggest changes that marketers should expect in the next digital decade?

DA: Whew, 10 years is a long time in the digital world. Facebook is only seven years old and Hulu is only four years old. While I wish I could predict how things would be in 2021, I can tell you the hints I’m seeing right now that foretell a very exciting future for marketing. 

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Your Social Media Programs Are Global - Whether You Want Them To Be Or Not

Nate Elliott

The Groundswell is now global. Social media has entered the mainstream in every single market Forrester regularly surveys — and in most of those markets, social media use is at 75% or higher. Australian, Japanese and Italian online users all show stronger adoption of social media than Americans do – and Chinese, Dutch and Swedish users have nearly pulled level with the Americans. And in 2010 Facebook reported that more than 70% of its active users were outside the US, while Twitter said more than 60% of its accounts come from outside the US.

The simple fact is that if your company has a social media program, that program is global — whether you want it to be or not. And this isn’t just a nuisance or a language issue. Failing to recognize the global nature of your social programs means you might be telling foreign users about products that aren’t available in their countries (for instance, Toyota UK reached more than 100 million people with a fantastic blogger outreach program for its iQ model; but it turns out that more than 95% of those people live in countries where the iQ isn’t for sale). Or you may be advertising discounts and promotions to which many users don’t have access (for instance, while Amazon’s Facebook page promoted a special price of $89 for the Kindle last November, a Kindle cost almost twice as much in the UK — and wasn’t available at all in most other markets). If you work in a regulated industry like financial services or pharmaceuticals, you risk running afoul of government regulators.

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HubSpot Investment Validates Online Marketing Suite Model For SMBs

Shar VanBoskirk

I first got to know HubSpot last summer when I was researching for the report: "Interactive Marketing Priorities For SMBs."  Born out of MIT’s Sloan School in 2006, HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing suite for small businesses. It provides blog building, content management, SEO, email marketing, lead management and social media tools, templates, and reporting for marketers at small and medium-sized companies. The model? To provide automated solutions for multiple marketing functions together in an easy-to-use system, tailored for the SMB market. Forrester loves the idea of the online marketing suite, so we think HubSpot’s approach is right-on.

Well, HubSpot just announced today that it has two new investors: Google and salesforce.com.

To me this investment signifies two things:

1)  Google wants to expand its reach into marketing budgets of small companies, many of whom currently use mostly local search. I've said before that I think Google is moving away from its core search business and into expanded media opportunities like television media. I think this investment is further evidence of Google's expanding priorities, now into the SMB market.

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Which Social Media Marketing Metrics Really Matter? (And To Whom?)

Nate Elliott

We’ve been pretty vocal over the past couple of years about how marketers should define success in social media and (perhaps more importantly) how they shouldn’t define success. To put it bluntly, if you’re focusing on fans and followers, then you’re almost certainly doing it wrong.

But saying that raises the question: If the number of fans or followers you have doesn’t tell us whether you’ve succeeded as a company, then what does it tell you? And if your CEO shouldn’t be worried about the number of wall posts you’ve generated, then who should be paying attention to this number?

Since last summer, I’ve been using a structured model to help my clients focus on delivering the right social media marketing data to various stakeholders inside their organization. Social media programs throw off so much data that the key to measuring and managing your programs well is focusing each stakeholder on just the pieces of data that are relevant to helping them do their jobs. If part of your job is measuring the success of your social media marketing programs, then you need to start segmenting the stakeholder groups you’re providing that data to and tailoring the type of metrics, the volume of metrics, and the frequency of reporting you provide them.

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PacSun's Integrated Marketing Lessons

Shar VanBoskirk

Mondy Beller, the VP of eCommerce for PacSun, spoke just before I did at the Responsys event about the integrated marketing programs PacSun is developing. Here are the lessons I learned from her:

  • Your biggest priority should be to build a unified customer database. Beller gave some great examples of multichannel campaigns — running email or Facebook messages that match with customers' recent purchases or daily promotions that are running in store. None of these work without a single customer database that stores all of the customer information.
  • Develop trust with your customers. Beller said PacSun is lucky because its young target audience is both technology savvy and wants to engage in an interactive relationship with PacSun. This makes it easier for PacSun than for other brands to gain customer permission, registrations, and behavioral data. But PacSun still works to nurture trust with its audience. It uses QR codes in stores to get shoppers to log products they browse or to register for mobile promotions. It will also be using iPads to help sales reps show fashions or register customers for email or Facebook while they are in the store.
  • Use Facebook for research and relationship building. PacSun certainly uses Facebook to distribute promotions. But it also uses it to converse with customers. It reads and responds to comments fans post. It posts questions and conversation starters. And it listens to the community to test product ideas, pricing, and the buzz about current promotions. 
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Responsys Introduces The New School Of Marketing

Shar VanBoskirk

I spoke last week at Interact 2011, a Responsys-sponsored event attended by about 600 of its current clients and prospects. The theme of this year's event was "The New School of Marketing," a framework Responsys has developed to help marketers better connect with empowered consumers. The fundamental principles of New School Marketing are that it is: permission-based, automated, cross-channel, and focused on engagement. See what Responsys thinks will change from current approaches to those that are part of New School Marketing:

I found the event to be extremely well produced (not just because it featured a fantastic performance by the iconic Cyndi Lauper -- see photos below) and full of some great marketer stories which I'd like to share in my next several posts.