Believe it or not, the first quarter of 2015 is officially complete. Between the snow accumulations (especially) in the Northeast, the subsequent melting process, and the ever-evolving social media landscape, we've been busy. One of my takeaways from the social world is that FOMO (fear of missing out) is alive and well across several audiences. Let me recap a few social highlights and share a bit more on my takeaways.
Snapchat carries a 15 billion dollar valuation and reportedly somewhere between 100 and 200 million active users. Is Snapchat for every brand? Most likely not, but it has a measure of appeal for a particular audience. This group doesn't want to miss out on anything and they also like things that are exclusive and momentary. That's probably the draw for Snapchat's massive Millennial audience.
Discussing with Asia Pacific marketers, I often hear that they struggle to find and recruit the right social marketing skills, including data analysts. While staffing is important insofar as tactics go, having a proper team structure to execute on these tactics is, in my view, even more crucial.
In fact, they can mitigate some of these HR challenges with a properly structured social team. My report on building a usable social team structure addresses how organizational models will evolve as social marketing matures. These models include the a) Hub, b) Hub and spoke and c) distributed hub and spoke.
The Hub, for example, is meant to help firms that are starting out on social marketing. This could be a firm that is beginning to get more serious about how social is used strategically to drive business outcomes, or one that operates in highly regulated industries like banking and finance. The centralized hub model puts all of the responsibility (and money) for social marketing in the hands of one small team. This model provides training wheels for marketers for social marketing — especially in learning how to coordinate or test social marketing campaigns in the early phases of social maturity. A centralized hub acts as an incubator for social marketing experimentation and allows other teams to focus on their own objectives until the social program can be implemented at scale with minimal risk. Execution can be in-house, but some marketers partner with an external agency for additional dedicated resources.
Today I heard an agency describe the content strategy that it was working for a client. At the end of the description (which revolved around how the client saw itself, and what it wanted to talk about), I said: “That sounds like an ad pitch.” Awkward silence.
Right now, in meeting rooms around the world, bad ideas for content strategies are being hatched. And it’s no fault of the idea-hatchers.
Sitting in a meeting room.
Thinking about the company’s (or client’s) management or board.
Needing to sell an idea in to sceptical constituents.
Knowing, no matter what they hatch, it’ll get enough paid air cover to make it look a winner.
So they lay an almighty egg of a content strategy. An egg that, within the hothouse confines of the group that hatched it, meets only reaffirmation. But the content strategy doesn’t serve customers. Not at all. And it doesn’t serve the real strategic goals of the company behind it.
How do you get around this natural tendency of organizations to lay eggs?
You need a very strong counterweight to the natural tendency towards basic self-interestedness from the parties involved (client approval for the agency, peer approval for the marketer, and self-serving messages for the internal stakeholders).
Audience-centric design is the response. Taking its cues from the user-centric design discipline, audience-centric design relies on rich and direct audience observation – both their attitudes and behaviors – in order to inspire value in the eyes of the audience.
This year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona brought together 90,000 attendees, including 4,500 CEOs and a growing number of CMOs and marketing leaders. Let’s face it: MWC, unlike SXSW, Cannes Lions, ad:tech, or dmexco, is not a leading marketing and advertising event. However, because mobile is a catalyst for business transformation, MWC is progressively morphing from a business-to-business (B2B) telecom trade show to an event that affects all industries, from automotive to payments.
I think MWC 2015 was still too technology focused. Too many announcements and headlines at MWC 2015 focused on the launch of new hardware devices, from the new Galaxy S6 to virtual reality headsets; centered on telecom technologies, such as 5G; or focused on the technology OS wars, which will be irrelevant for marketers this year. However, marketers could get a glimpse of what it means to deliver contextual experiences. By cutting through the hype and taking a look at innovative, specialized mobile marketing and ad tech companies at MWC, marketers can get a better sense of how they can act on data to deliver more-contextualized and more-personalized experiences across new connected devices and objects.
My colleague Dan Bieler put together his observations of what MWC means for CIOs in his blog post. Together, we will host a free Webinar tomorrow (Thursday, March 12) at 4pm CET / 3pm GMT / 10am ET, you can still register here.
For clients willing to know more about this, you can access my new report.
People are always curious to know what's new with social. What new content types are there? What new sites should I pay the most attention to these days? Listen, the real question isn't about what's new, but rather what has evolved and how that evolution ties into what we do everyday. Video is part of that evolution. It is now available in multiple sizes, including microvideo, short-form, and long-form video, across social channels. Just take a quick look at these updates:
Standalone mobile apps such as Instagram and Vine have taken audiences by storm, making it effortless to take and share videos.
Even Twitter has a native video player now, making it easier to create and share video within its app.
Video has the ability to emotionally connect and pull an audience into a story in as little as a few seconds. My report "Connect with the Power of Microvideo" introduces marketers to the concept of microvideo. Marketers will learn how the use of Instagram and Vine enables brands to create emotionally responsive content. In addition, I highlight the nuances between both channels and provide a few tips on how to using these channels. Read my report and share your thoughts and questions.
Marketers must mix service providers and software solutions to serve their needs . . . vendors bifurcate into service partners and software solutions.
Increasingly, we’re seeing those two camps – the service providers, usually agencies, and software tools – merge in the market. Last year, WPP took a small, strategic stake in Percolate to “strengthen its capabilities in fast-growing sectors.” Then, yesterday, Havas Media announced a strategic partnership with Newscred thus:
NewsCred’s cloud-based software, combined with Havas Media Group’s expertise and data analytics, gives clients access to an unrivalled and fully integrated management tool covering the complete content marketing value chain across all platforms: from content strategy and planning to production and validation through to content curation and publication.
I spoke with Newscred’s CEO, Shafqat Islam, to cut through some of the jargon and tell me what this means. The two will elevate an informal relationship into a specific go-to-market strategy where Havas provides strategy, creative and paid media/analytics, while Newscred’s in for the content technology backbone and its licensed and original content offerings.
I remember the first time I attended 3GSM in Cannes: It was primarily a B2B telecoms trade show and centered on DVB-H, WiMAX, and other technology-centric acronyms. Fast-forward 11 years, and Mobile World Congress (MWC) will be the center of the business world for a couple of days (March 2 to 5). Some things don’t change: We will continue to hear too much about technology. Simply ignore the hype, especially around 5G; it will have no impact at all on your marketing strategy for the next five years!
However, the list of keynote speakers is a good indication of what MWC has become: a priority event for leaders willing to transform their businesses. The CEOs of Facebook, Renault-Nissan, SAP, MasterCard, and BBVA will be speaking, and more than 4,500 CEOs will be among the 85,000 attendees (only 25% of which are from operators). It is fascinating to see how mobile has changed the world in the past 10 years — not just in the way that we live and communicate but also in terms of disrupting every business. I strongly believe that mobile will have a bigger impact than the PC or Web revolutions. Why?
First, mobile is the fastest and most ubiquitous technology ever to spread globally. People in Asia and Africa are skipping the PC Internet and going direct to mobile phones; they’re the ultimate convergent device and often the only way to reach people in rural areas. As Andreessen Horowitz's Benedict Evans put it, mobile is “eating the world”. It has already cannibalized several markets, such as cameras, video recorders, and GPS, and is now disrupting entire industries, changing the game for payments, health, and education, especially in emerging countries. Second, mobile is the bridge to the physical world. It is not just another “subdigital” channel. This alone has a huge impact on business models. Last, mobile is a catalyst for business transformation.
Sorry for that rather legalistic/nerdy headline. As I mentioned in my last post, Forrester's data on Making Sense of New Video Consumption Behaviors stimulated a discussion of methodologies, and particularly the challenges with our self-reported survey methodology. I agree, this approach has some flaws, as does any research methodology. That's why we're trained here to look for multiple data points and then to interpret them to give as accurate a view as we can of what's happening in the market.
So I just came across an article that I had read while I was writing that report which provides additional evidence. In it, NBC Universal's AlanWurtzel describes the digital viewing numbers they are beginning to provide, using behavior data from Nielsen, Rentrak, Omniture, and Hulu. These numbers point in the same direction, and perhaps point to even larger changes than Forrester's data indicate.
The article cites numbers for two shows, on a live-plus-seven-day basis. For The Blacklist, digital viewing accounts for 17% of the total viewership, while digital views are 37% of Parks & Recreation's total.
These data sets and NBC's methodology have their own gaps and weaknesses, no doubt. But I believe that is a matter of degree, not direction. These numbers -- and Forrester's -- don't have the degree of precision needed for the currency of the TV market, but they clearly indicate that a significant change is happening in consumer viewing behavior that advertisers need to factor into their planning.
Apple Pay makes up more than $2 out of $3 spent on purchases using contactless payment across the three major US card networks. I agree with my colleague Sucharita Mulpuru that this is likely a big chunk of a small pie, considering the lower maturity of the mobile contactless ecosystem in the US. It's always better to look for absolute value. In this regard, PayPal processed $46 billion in mobile payment volume in 2014, up 68% over 2013.
Should marketers care about mobile wallets? Yes. Mobile wallets are not just about mobile payments. Consumers want a better shopping experience. Offering faster or more-secure payments is not enough; wallet providers will have to solve real pain points, such as giving consumers the ability to see what’s on stored value cards at any moment in time, access loyalty points, or automatically receive digital copies of payment receipts. In particular, 57% of US online adult smartphone users are interested in having access to loyalty program points and rewards within a mobile wallet. Access to loyalty rewards from brands is the most wanted feature from consumers, and it's the one least integrated in mobile wallets today.
Time spent on mobile is skyrocketing. Since about 80% of that time is spent on apps, many marketing leaders have quickly jumped to the conclusion that the only way to reach and engage their customers is through their own branded apps. Wrong! Here are five — often ignored — good reasons for marketing leaders to broaden their mobile approach beyond their own apps:
1. Branded apps are relevant. Yes, some of them (Starbucks, Nike, and many others) are success stories. But more often than not, branded apps don’t deliver real mobile benefits and engage only a small subset of customers. It's about time marketers connect their apps to their marketing and CRM systems to personalize and contextualize the brand experience. Marketers should launch fewer but smarter apps.
2. Apps offer real engagement opportunities. Yes, but only for a minority of apps, according to Forrester’s App Engagement Index. Several of the most engaging apps — Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Twitter, and WhatsApp — either don’t have or only recently introduced mobile advertising offerings. Marketers must identify the overlap between the most engaging apps and the most popular apps among their brand’s customer base. Then they have to mix content and context to tell a story that is relevant to customers in their mobile moments. It will not be about ads but about sparking a conversation instead of broadcasting a marketing message. Marketers should select the most promising partners evolving their apps as marketing platforms.