Do Interactive Marketers Actually Buy Technology?

Shar VanBoskirk

I was just talking with Suresh Vittal on my team about how to project interactive marketer investments in technology.  In some cases in the US Interactive Marketing Forecast, we include technology investments in our projections of marketer spend on a given channel (for example, email marketing spend includes investment in email message delivery).  But for the most part, the IM forecast is based on current and projected media spend.

So the conversation Suresh and I had was to think through enough assumptions, to estimate how much marketers invest in technology. 

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**UPDATE** Customer Experience Matters More Than Points In Building Loyalty

Shar VanBoskirk

I had a recent holiday travel experience which got me thinking about loyalty programs.  Here's what happened:

I traveled home to see my family in Nebraska on American Airlines, Forrester's preferred airline and the airline where I have all my miles and am currently a Platinum Advantage member.  Due to a delay on my return connection out of Chicago, I didn't land back in Logan until about 12:30am on 12/26/07.

In getting off of the plane, I dropped my hat and did not realize I was without it until I was already at baggage claim.  Of course I could not go back through security to look for the hat, so the security agent indicated I should ask the baggage attendant for some help.

I explained what had happened to the baggage attendant, Linda, and she immediately indicated that there was nothing she could do.  I continued to try to explain that I was sure my hat was between the gate and security and just needed some help finding someone to retrace my steps.  I'm not sure if she wasn't listening or didn't care, but she indicated I was providing her "improper information" and she could not help me.  I mentioned that I was an AA Platinum traveler in hopes that that might help her come to my aid.  In response to this information she replied, "I don't care who you are or how much you travel." 

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Got Milk (carton advertising)?

Shar VanBoskirk

I got an email last week from a marketing firm that was different than most of the briefing requests I get.  This firm, Milk Media, partners with dairies to place branded advertisements on the back of the individual-sized milk cartons served at lunch time in schools around the country.

Interesting to me, is that the email (see below) calls out how similar companies have been chastised by the FTC for marketing to kids in a controlled environment.  Milk Media, it claims, is an a-ok marketing environment because milk promotes a healthy lifestyle.

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I wanted to take just a moment of your time to introduce you to MilkMedia and their unique niche marketing with Milk Rocks!

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How big a deal is affiliate marketing?

Shar VanBoskirk

When I kicked off the research for Forrester's 5 -year Interactive Marketing Forecast this past August, I had originally intended to also include affiliate marketing in the projections.  I got a great run down on current trends in the space from Steve Denton at Linkshare and John Ardis and Dave Osmon from Commission Junction.  However, in the end I ended up cutting affiliate out of the overall sizing for two reasons:

1) It overlapped with channels I was already sizing.  For many marketers affiliate spending includes a portion of their search marketing budget.

2) It is often funded as a channel effort, rather than as a media buy.  I also learned that for many marketers, affiliate marketing is actually a sales or distribution channel, rather than a medium where they can place ads. This made it not an accurate piece for me to include in the report, which I intended to match as closely as possible to the interactive channels that actually make up firms' interactive marketing budgets.

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Are communities unifying people or simply providing a platform for them to express their differences?

Shar VanBoskirk

If you've never been to Barcelona, you may not know that the local language here is actually not Spanish...it's Catalan, the native language of Barcelona's region: Catalunya.  Children here are taught in Catalan, and while many also learn Spanish and likely English, I've run into several locals who speak only Catalan.  And then of course, since the attendees at our event are from all over Europe, there are dozens of languages filling the air during networking breaks and one on one sessions.

I mention this because it struck me that as the world becomes a smaller place (easier to travel anywhere you like, similar businesses/foods in different regions around the world, even the same pop-culture icons and references), cultures are becoming fiercely proprietary about the things that do define their culture from another:  like language.  What a perfect thing to establish who is qualified to be a member of a given community?  If you speak our language, you must be similar enough to us, and proud enough of our heritage to be in our community.  Language then, isn't just a mode of communication; it is also an expression of identity.

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Wunderman Defines The Age of Influence Marketing

Shar VanBoskirk

Mark Taylor followed Jaap by discussing a new take on Wunderman's long-term strategic approach to relationship marketing.  Specifically, he mentioned marketers must acknowledge the shift to "The age of influence marketing" by embracing two new channels: 

1) The Channel of Me and 2) The Channel of Us

Both channels actually leverage the *consumer* as a marketing vehicle as well as as a target audience.

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Jaap Favier to Brands: Don't Walk Alone

Shar VanBoskirk

Greetings from Forrester's EMEA consumer and finance forums in Barcelona!  We've just finished the first two speakers of the event:  Forrester's VP and Research Director, Jaap Favier and Wunderman's Chief Marketing Technologist Officer, Mark Taylor. 

The presentations were an excellent introductions to the themes for both the consumer and the finance tracks:  Share Your Brand (for the consumer track) and Beating the Competition With Superior Customer Experience (for the financial track).

Jaap had a few particular soundbites which I thought really crystalized the current state of marketers today, and also the changes they need to make in order to accommodate the growing influence of user generated content and virtual communities.

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B2B Marketers: How Do You Count Your Customers?

Laura Ramos

I recently heard from a client who wanted to know whether I had any data or best practices around how business-to-business firms define – and count – their customers.

Here are two scenarios to consider:

A large software company sells to Vodafone UK, Vodafone Spain, and Verizon (US). All are owned by the parent company, Vodafone.  Each entity goes through a separate buying process, contract negotiation, and installation.  How would you count this: as one customer or three?

A top ten professional services firm has separate engagements with GE Money, GE Appliance, and GE Medical.  These are three very different businesses, each with a separate purchase process.  How would you classify any subsequent sales to GE Appliance: cross-sells/upsells or new business?

My perspective: I see B2B companies define “customer” as a legal entity with which they have a contractual obligation.  A “customer” is the part of the organization with the budget authority and the potential to deliver a future revenue stream through service contracts, training, consulting, upsell/cross-sell, and the like – without having to run to the parent for approval.

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Platform A: Too little too late for AOL?

Shar VanBoskirk

The online advertising world is abuzz this Monday morning about the press release from AOL which just crossed the wire.  Specifically, AOL announced that it will:

  1. Create a new online advertising platform, called Platform A, which will integrate the media and technologies across all of AOL's current ad networks including Advertising.com, TACODA, Third Screen Media, Lightningcast, and ADTECH
  2. Relocate its corporate headquarters to New York City

I see this announcement as further fodder for my argument that online advertising is trenching for a comeback, and moving forward will be the backbone of every marketing campaign.  Particular to AOL, I think this is interesting timing for a very aggressive move.  Leadership in the online advertising space was AOL's to lose 5 years ago and that is exactly what they did.  The decision to create an integrated marketing platform and locate themselves where the advertisers are is a great move, but is it too little too late?  Why now for AOL?  Why didn't they make a decision of this scale years ago before they fell into fourth place in the race?

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Yahoo!/Blue Lithium Further Validates Online Display Ads

Shar VanBoskirk

The announcment that Yahoo is buying ad network Blue Lithium comes at a ponderous time for me since I'm just wrapping up the research for Forrester's forecast of Interactive Marketing Spending and (report is due Sept 28).  Per that research, I'm finding that indeed interactive budgets are on their way up with marketers (still) most interested in search and (newly interested in) online video. Display ads continue to be a part of almost all online campaigns and yet no marketer has much to say about them.  Marketers and vendors alike have commented that display ads as a medium have undersold themselves since the early 2000s.  Basically display ads have capabilities that no marketer knows/cares about.  Or that has not yet been fully exploited.

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