You'll have to forgive Facebook if they woke up this morning thinking the sky was falling; if they were subject to the same avalanche of news, comments, and questions about Google+ as the rest of us were for these last 24 hours, it'll seem like they've already been condemned to the social media scrapheap. And in case Facebook needed any reminder of how quickly social networking pioneers can fall, Google+ was launched on the same day MySpace, once supposedly valued at $12 billion, was sold for just $35 million to an ad network.
As my colleague Josh Bernoff points out, however, it's a bit too early to write Facebook's obituary. First, we have to consider the fact that Google hasn't exactly lit the social world on fire in the past: Google Buzz was largely ignored, Google Wave was largely ridiculed, and even Orkut may be starting to lose its famous lead in Brazil. Then there's the fact that Google+'s key feature — the ability to organize your friends into "circles" and share certain content only with certain circles — isn't exactly new: Facebook already offers "lists" that let you target which content is seen by which friends.
A couple months ago I talked about the reasons interactive marketing is ready to lead your brand -- namely, that it offers scale that can compete with any other channel, it provides more depth than any other channel, it’s more trusted by consumers than any other marketing channel, and it provides marketers a richer storytelling palette than any other channel.
The logical next question is: If interactive is ready to take the lead, how do we make that happen? A lot of people think budget is the answer; they say if we simply push more spending online we’ll have a better chance to leverage interactive tools. But I’m not fixated just on budget, for two reasons. First, more than 70% of marketers are already taking budget out of traditional channels to fund new interactive spending -- so this budget shift is already under way. But second, and much more importantly, is the fact that simply pouring more money into interactive tools won't fix the flaws in how companies develop their marketing programs.
For me, leading your brand with interactive marketing isn’t about choosing one channel over another; it's about rethinking how all our marketing channels work together. The way we "coordinate" our marketing channels right now is broken: Even today, most marketers develop their TV ads first and then hand them to the interactive team and hope they can build a site or a banner campaign that matches. As we've all seen, this rarely works well.
At least once a week I get a client inquiry wondering what is "the next big thing in interactive marketing," seeking to identify what will out-tweet Twitter or out Goog Google. Well, in his new report, Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Customer, my colleague Josh Bernoff articulates what is next for all businesses: A disruptive shift, where the power of customers means that firms must focus on the customer now more than any other strategic imperative. In fact, the only source of competitive advantage is the one that can survive technology-fueled disruption — an obsession with understanding, delighting, connecting with, and serving customers. In this age, companies that thrive, like Best Buy, IBM, and Amazon, are those that tilt their budgets toward customer knowledge and relationships.
The zinger in this report for interactive marketers is to: Prioritize word of mouth over mouthing off. Cut your ad budget by at least 10%, and spend the money on connections that have a multiplier effect like social, devices, and content. Ads are far more effective when customers are primed to believe them.
This means that interactive marketing of the future is really focused on interactivity -- not just on pushing out marketing messages through digital channels. Three ways to get started creating more interactive marketing relationships:
Google’s product strategists just announced the launch of Google Wallet — an NFC-based mobile payment solution. As my colleague Charlie Golvin pointed out, this is another early salvo in what will be a long and hard-fought battle to change consumers’ payment behavior and, as a potential result, the makeup of the payments landscape.
We have covered this issue in more detail in a new Forrester report “Google Wallet Is Not About Mobile Payments.” Clients can access the report here.
Given its core search business and ad-based revenue model, why would the company make that investment? Because Google’s product strategists’ focus is not on the payment itself; it’s on all of the other elements that comprise a commerce experience and the data that characterizes those elements.
Indeed, appending real-world purchase information to its treasure trove of online behavioral data will vastly increase the value of customers’ profiles and increase the rates Google can charge its advertisers. It will be a way for Google to increase its local presence. NFC is too often equated simply with payments, but Google understands that NFC tags have broad application (working like Quick Response [QR] and other 2D barcodes do today). Google can help retailers use NFC tags for in-store promotions and check-ins, augmenting the understanding of customer behavior for ad targeting.
Our London-based Interactive Marketing Research Associate James McDavid chimes in with this great tale of how listening to and embracing your fans in social media can create powerful word-of-mouth marketing:
As every dance music aficionado knows, Miami is the place to be every March as it hosts the Winter Music Conference (WMC), an event that brings together leading lights from the industry to party, share records, and make fun of Paris Hilton. So when Dutch airline KLM announced they'd be launching a new route between Amsterdam and Miami at the end of March 2011, a couple of Dutch DJs tweeted KLM to see if the airline could move the flight forward a week to coincide with the WMC. The DJs claimed that they could fill a flight from Amsterdam to Miami solely with revelers and ravers. KLM, seeing a great opportunity to show off their social savvy, offered the DJs a challenge — if they could get 150 people to register in seven days, then KLM would move the inaugural flight forward — and, as a bonus, let the DJs spin some records in the cabin.
Smith, Verhaaf and Preschern talked about the efforts they have underway to help their firms customize marketing experiences, optimize decisions and processes, respond to changing market conditions and empower employees and customers to advocate on your behalf. They raised some great points for interactive marketers to consider as they undertake CORE:
Rarely a mobile conference goes by without this debate popping up: Should you build a mobile website or an application? I don’t think it really matters; in fact, I’d say it is irrelevant. This is just one of many topics where technology leads marketing by the nose— as is often the case in the mobile industry! Product strategists often forget to ask themselves the right questions: which product and services, for which audiences, at what cost, and when?
Consumer product strategists designing product experiences for mobile phones and smartphones must decide on their development priorities across the mobile Web and apps. While some believe this is a fundamental “either/or” choice, current consumer behavior suggests that consumers are using both. More than half of European (and 60% of US) consumers who download apps at least monthly also access the Internet via their mobile phones at least daily. In short, heavy app users are also heavy mobile Web users. The more frequently consumers access the Internet via their mobile phones, the more likely they are to download apps at least monthly. More than 10 billion apps have been downloaded cumulatively since the launch of the Apple App Store — the majority of them via iPhones. But this doesn’t stop iPhone owners from being the most frequent mobile Internet users: 72% of European iPhone owners (and 63% of US iPhone owners) access the mobile Internet on a daily basis.
Epsilon's Symposium addressed email fraud head on, since its data breach accessed email data. Quinn Jalli, Epsilon's VP of Deliverability and ISP Relations, recommends that managing email fraud is not something to leave just to your email service provider. The wakeup call from this data breach: Brands must partner with email vendors and ISPs to protect their email send addresses, email brand assets, and in educating recipients about data usage and email fraud. Specifically:
Show ISPs your legitimate emails. Historically, marketers and ISPs haven't had much of a relationship because they were working toward different goals. Marketers want to get their emails into user inboxes, while ISPs want to manage email data volumes by blocking as many messages as possible. Well, phished emails — copies of your real thing — can be so good that neither consumers nor ISPs can tell real from fraud. Preempt this by showing ISPs the identifying characteristics of the emails that you create. And of course any examples you have of phished messages if you have suffered this. Your email service provider can facilitate this ISP connection.
By now, you've all heard about Epsilon's April 1 data breach — an unauthorized party accessed a subset of Epsilon's email clients' data. My colleague Dave Frankland outlines the circumstances of the incident and its implications on Customer Intelligence and data security in his blog post immediately following the incident.
I attended Epsilon's Customer Symposium in Naples, Fla., last week, and I wanted to pipe in with some commentary based on what was addressed directly by Epsilon at the event.
Marketers: The way I would look at this is "if a data breach can happen to Epsilon — a firm which specializes in data and data management — it can definitely happen to me." We learned from Bryan Sartin, director of investigative services, Verizon Business Security Solutions, and Mick Walsh, supervisor, Miami Electronic Crime Task Force, US Secret Service, that electronic crime is a huge and growing business, due in part to the ease of access to consumer information online and the ease of access to the data black market through online search engines. Three-quarters of cases of electronic crimes executed through malware come from data disclosed through Facebook.
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.