The Trust Crisis in Advertising

Jim Nail

Facebook's admission that their video viewing numbers have been inflated for two years is one more shoe dropping in an ongoing breakdown of the relationships between advertisers, agencies and media companies in the advertising ecosystem. Coming after the ANA's work on transparency, and the unresolved issue of fraud in the programmatic ecosystem, this points to a larger, more fundamental problem in the advertising industry.

I won't try to diagnose them all (my colleague Sarah Sikowitz did a good job on the agency transparency issue on her blog). And I won't even go into the fact that the agencies didn't challenge these bogus counts. 

But I have a word of advice for the digital industry: stop obsessing over bits and pixels and clicks (Oh My!). I've been in digital for 20 years and by now the industry should have learned that no matter how readily available this data is, it is meaningless relative to what advertisers really want to know: is my message getting through and having an impact? I may sound old fashioned, but in contrast to these irrelevant, spurious, and potentially inflated data, I'll take a good-old exposed/unexposed ad communication/awareness/attribute association/purchase intent lift survey any day.

True, I give up the individual-level data the digital prides itself on. But if the data is this weak and subject to manipulation, it is at best an inaccurate view of ad performance and likely to be downright misleading.

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The Future Of Messaging Apps

Thomas Husson

Two years ago, Forrester made the claim that mobile was the new face of social. With more than 3 billion users worldwide, messaging apps demonstrated one of the fastest-growing online behaviors and passed social networks. The reach of these apps is huge, which presents a strong relationship promise for marketers.

From Line’s IPO to WhatsApp’s new privacy policy via Snapchat’s latest offerings or Facebook Messenger’s bots, messaging apps make the headlines. Together with my colleagues Xiaofeng Wang and James L. McQuivey, we have digged into this consumer phenomenon to better understand the opportunities it will unlock for marketers in the coming years. We expect messaging apps to play a key role throughout the customer life cycle but more specifically to enable brands to deepen conversations with their customers during the retention phases. Why? Because messaging apps combine the three keys to powerful relationships in any digital environment: frequency of use, emotional connection, and convenience.

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Marketers, Let's Talk: Pinterest Is Not A Social Network

Jessica Liu

We’ll let you in on a little secret: Pinterest isn’t what you think it is. When Pinterest emerged, it was immediately labeled as a social network alongside Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, and even the ill-fated Google+. Why? Because we as humans like to categorize things and also because Pinterest shares a few key features with social networks, such as user authentication and the ability to create, post, like, and share content. This led marketers to believe that they needed yet another always-on brand presence on Pinterest and dedicated social budget to engage with customers on an ongoing basis. 

The reality is that Pinterest is not a place for customers to engage with brands like they do on other social networks. Rather, Pinterest is better suited for discovery and for helping consumers find information, ideas, products, and services. Marketers know to go to Google to increase their brands' visibility and awareness but don't think about Pinterest in the same way —  and that's a mistake. Don't get us wrong; we're not saying that Pinterest is the next Google. But Pinterest is taking steps that make it more Google-like with its intent-based search and auctioned-based ad pricing, all while maintaining vestiges of a social network.

To learn how marketers can take advantage of Pinterest as a discovery tool, read Collin Collburn's and my full report here.

Email Vendor Acquisitions Signal The End Of Standalone Email Service Providers

Rebecca McAdams

*This blog post was written in collaboration with Shar VanBoskirk

Over the last year, we’ve seen a number of new acquisitions in the email marketing space.  Specifically:

  • European cross-channel campaign management vendor Selligent and Silicon Valley email service provider Strongview were acquired and combined by Private Equity Firm HGGC
  • Marlin Equity Partners acquired Teradata’s Digital Marketing Center -- the part of Teradata which includes former eCircle, Ozone Online for agency services, and Argyle Social --  and mid-market ESP BlueHornet, which was previously part of Digital River
  • Vista Equity Partners picked up B2B marketing automation vendor Marketo
  •  And most recently Zeta Interactive added Acxiom Impact to the eBay Enterprise assets (the old eDialog, for those of you keeping track) it acquired last year
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Programmatic TV and Data-Driven TV Planning: Untangling Facts From Fiction

Samantha Merlivat
The explosion of TV channels, on-demand content and OTT services continues to erode audiences. On the whole, Forrester’s Technographic data shows that consumers in EU5 countries (UK, FR, DE, IT, SP) watch on average as much TV in 2016 as they did in 2014. But the split is shifting in favor of online TV, in particular among millennials which will become increasingly difficult to reach through conventional linear TV media plans.
 
The fragmentation of TV content across sources shrinks audience sizes, and makes TV planning inefficient. Programmatic TV could be the answer to cross-screen, audience based planning, but the road is long and paved with obstacles. Programmatic buying is penetrating pockets of broadcaster inventory, but the level of implementation varies across countries, across broadcaster and across inventory type. The big question, of course, is whether programmatic ever makes it to linear TV advertising and becomes a viable tool to plan TV campaigns.
 
What is often missing from this discussion is the journey TV broadcasters have embarked on to collect and activate audience insights across their properties, and the wealth of data that is already available to test or experiment with audience-based buying within their inventory.
 
In the “European Marketers Get Ready For Data-Driven TV Planning" report, I break down how various TV / video inventory types will transition to different forms of programmatic over time, and explain why marketers will not have to wait for programmatic to infuse data intelligence into their TV media plans. Read the report to find out commonly missed opportunities in terms of audience optimization in TV planning.

Understanding The Global Digital Marketing Landscape

Brandon Verblow

Welcome to my blog!

I joined Forrester earlier this year as an associate forecast analyst on the ForecastView team, focusing on digital marketing (DM) topics. The ForecastView team’s goal is to answer the questions “How much?” and “When?” To this end, we publish five-year forecasts that provide forward-looking, quantitative guidance around the key issues that our research analysts are discussing as well as the important trends that Forrester’s Technographics® survey data reveals. To learn how our forecasts can help you with your investment decisions, see our ForecastView overview.

On the DM forecast team, we evaluate various facets of the digital marketing space, including online display, online video, social media, paid search, email marketing, mobile advertising, and ad tech.

Our latest report, the Forrester Readiness Index: Digital Marketing, 2016, touches on many of these areas. In it, we quantify the digital marketing readiness of 55 countries across six continents based on data collected for 23 variables — ranging from display, search, and social ad spending to per-capita online traffic and video consumption to penetration rates for PC, smartphone, internet, and broadband usage to GDP growth, number of businesses, and the percentage of businesses selling online. It provides one of the most comprehensive and digestible evaluations of the global digital marketing landscape available in one place.

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Don’t Let That Social Post Pass You By

Jessica Liu

Social marketing often feels like running a race against an unlikely competitor: your own customers. In the social media world, consumer behaviors and technical functionality evolve so quickly that the minute you feel good about your social presence and perhaps have even pulled neck-and-neck with your customers’ social media behaviors, they surge ahead and leave you in the dust. What’s your technique to keep up with this superior runner in this course-shifting race? Do you have a methodical training approach before the big race or do you improvise after you push off from the starting block? Most runners will tell you that it’s preferable to be in the former camp and not the latter.

The pace of social technology change and the volume of short shelf-life content make social networks a real-time media channel. Yet, marketers have trouble managing social content at the speed that it demands. Unlike traditional media channels (TV, print, and even digital banner ads), “social media” and “we’ve got months to do this” are rarely uttered in the same breath. As part of our new Social Marketing Playbook launch, the Processes chapter gives marketers a structure for managing social content in real-time and striking a balance between inbound inquiries and outbound messaging. Marketers ultimately need:

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Bringing Order To Chaos: Unraveling the Social Technology Web

Erna Alfred Liousas

Marketers have more choices then they really need when it comes to social marketing tools. Market fragmentation and consolidation, along with the internal organizational struggles we all face, make it a challenging time to be a marketer.

But don’t worry — we’re here to help! After analyzing the marketplace and interviewing 35 companies ranging from brands to agencies to vendors, my “Unraveling The Social Technology Web” report discusses:

  • The evolution of the social marketing technology landscape
  • Principles for determining if you truly need a particular technology
  • An overview of technologies that support specific social tactics across the customer life cycle

Our team will continue writing reports analyzing this space, so feel free to share the topics that interest you along with the challenges you face with social technologies.

Why Agency Culture Should Matter To Marketers

Sarah Sikowitz

Marketers often voice their frustration to me about the rate of turnover at their agencies.  It is hard to lose a great team member, but it’s more difficult to be left holding the bag for bringing someone new up to speed on the business. 

And this happens frequently. Agencies compete with each other, tech companies, startups and brands to attract and retain the best employees. Many use culture as a differentiator in the talent wars.  In fact, 77% of agencies we surveyed listed culture as a way to engage and retain employees.  Even with these efforts, agencies suffer from low employee morale and rising employee turnover. 

For this reason, it’s critical for marketers to pay attention to an agency’s efforts towards building and nurturing its culture.  Marketers that build this evaluation into the agency vetting process and look for a cultural fit will experience less turnover on accounts, higher quality work and a better relationship with their agency.

And agencies that connect leadership behavior, hiring efforts, employee engagement and new business efforts to culture will build working environments that attract and retain talent, while delivering superior client experience.

Read Ignore Your Agency's Culture At Your Own Risk to learn more and reach out to me if you’d like to learn more about how to integrate a culture assessment into your agency search or relationship.

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Make Your Social Efforts Count With The POST Process

Erna Alfred Liousas

Marketers face continuous uphill battles when it comes to social media. Whether it’s an emerging social network, an algorithm change within an existing social network, or the technology that enables social across an enterprise, change is constant. And these changes don’t even account for behavioral changes among our prospects and customers. The situation will only become more challenging, so we urge marketers to embrace the POST process when developing marketing initiatives and to figure out where social can bolster your initiatives.   

POST — which stands for people, objectives, strategy, and technology — is a tried-and-true process to create relevant marketing initiatives. Don’t get lost in the chaos of constant changes in social media. Samantha Ngo and I have written a new report to reinforce the benefits of POST; it highlights how to think through the process and shares details and examples to help you develop social tactics that further your marketing efforts.  This report will help you:
 
  • Understand your customer’s view of social media before developing your marketing initiative
  • Define your marketing objective and its impact
  • Determine the best tactics to tie your audience and objective together
  • Find the right social technology to help you implement your cohesive strategy
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