What to expect from Mobile World Congress 2017?

Thomas Husson

This is this time of the year again! From next Monday (February 27) and March 2, 2017, Mobile World Congress (MWC) will take place in Barcelona. I attended this event (then 3GSM) for the first time in 2005 and it is fascinating to see how the event has morphed from a B2B telecoms technology trade show to the one of the largest business conference around the globe. This year’s MWC theme is “The Next Element” may look broad but I quite like this idea that mobile is elemental and has become part of our daily lives. By analogy with the previous industrial revolution, mobile is like electricity: once you have access to it, it is a disruptive enabler of adjacent technologies powering more powerful innovation. Mobile is barely entering its teen age years.

Consumers now use mobile as a sixth sense. If the human senses serve as effortless faculties through which we access information on the world around us, then mobile has become the sixth sense. It brings digital to consumers in their daily lives. It has truly become the face of digital.  That’s the main challenge for marketers: since mobile becomes the primary interface between your brand and your customers, you must leverage mobile to accelerate digital transformation and transform the customer experience you deliver. A lot has to happen behind the scenes for marketers to be able to deliver real-time contextual experiences on mobile. That’s why it makes a lot of sense for marketers to spend time in Hall 8.1 where most marketing, advertising and app vendors will be gathered.

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How To Launch Customer Obsession

Shar VanBoskirk

Since 2010, you've heard Forrester beating our customer obsessed drum.  It is our idea that in The Age of the Customer, your relationship with your customers are your primary competitive differentiator.  We've written a lot about how to put the customer at the center of your total operating model.  But a total customer-obsessed transformation can be daunting because of the completeness it requires.  So many companies we talk to get overwhelmed at the idea of having to change every single part of their business, so they do nothing instead.  How could we offer a wedge into the customer obsessed transformation?  Could companies start toward customer obsession more easily if they understood where they are starting from?

We believed yes.  So we created The Customer Obsession Assessment, a large quantitiative survey, which included myriad statements related to customer service, customer experience, customer relationships, supporting technologies and sent it out to just over 1000 global executives.  Then we applied factor analysis and regression analysis to determine which statements most closely correlated with customer obsession.  From this effort we created: 1) An assessment that companies could take to determine their customer obsession maturity; 2) A segmentation of the execs who took our study so that we could identify best practices and pitfalls common at each stage in maturity. 

A few findings from the research:

*Most companies are still immature.  Overall, our sample distributed into a bell curve, with 62% landing in the bottom least mature segments. 

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VR Will Transform Marketing Experiences But Not Before 2020

Thomas Husson

Virtual Reality generates lots of buzz and massive investments. Isn’t it the next computing platform according to Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg? Hasn’t Magic Leap - the most secretive start-up- raised up to $1.4 billion to deliver on that promise?

Together with my colleague Samantha Merlivat, we decided to evaluate the opportunities VR will open up for marketers. In the next decade, we believe that unlike any channel to date, VR will offer highly immersive and intimate experiences with a future integrated with social and IoT. This unique combination will create not just new storytelling capabilities, but also opportunities to craft whole new experiences as part of the brand offering. Companies like Facebook are betting on VR to fulfill the dream of what Second Life tried to achieve in 2007: enabling social interactions and gatherings within virtual spaces. Moving forward, VR will be enhanced by sensory devices that increase the immersive and realistic nature of virtual experiences and transition the users from passive participant to live actor. Think of it as “human teleportation”.

We’re not there yet. Let’s look at the facts. Magic Leap has not launched anything yet and TechCrunch is right to question its PR approach. Device penetration is still niche and will remain so for a couple more years. Content costs are high and production is complicated. Forrester estimates that critical-mass consumer adoption of high-end VR headsets is at least five years away. In the meantime, 360 video content will flourish on low-to-mid-end VR devices, but 360 video is not a truly immersive VR experience. Benefits for brands and consumers alike are limited.

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VR & Marketing: Beyond The Hype

Samantha Merlivat

Much has been said about Virtual Reality in 2016 after a number of companies, like HTC, Sony and Facebook, promised to bring their headset to market in the course of the year. Since then, VR has been on everybody’s lips. VR content creation platforms are mushrooming, VR ad exchanges are starting to appear and agencies have been quick to pitch VR concepts to marketers eager to show their brand is innovative.

We think it’s time for marketers to take a step back and ask themselves why they are pursuing VR: What are you gaining from it, and does it make sense for you to explore VR now? And don't get me wrong - I'm a VR enthusiast. But when it comes to VR in marketing, even I have to recognize there is still way more hype than substance. 

For certain product categories, it is clear that VR will be a game changer in the future, and that experimenting now will help take advantage of the technology as it gains in maturity. But other brands may have to accept that VR has little to offer for them in the next 5 years, and resources placed in VR could be better invested elsewhere for the time being. We’ve seen countless examples of branded VR initiatives last year that left marketers - and consumers - completely underwhelmed.

Thomas Husson and I investigated what opportunities VR creates for brands from a marketing perspective: We found that for some categories – like retail – it can be disruptive to the point of transforming traditional sales channels. For others - like automotive, hospitality and real estate - it gives brands added persuasive power, proximity and convenience, beyond what traditional marketing channels can achieve. But not every vertical, and not every company, will benefit from VR.

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Super Bowl LI: Lackluster Brand Promises, Inspiring Values

Jim Nail

Out of a generally uninspiring batch of ads this year, one trend stood out: brands using the largest ad platform in the US to align their brand with social and political values that generally are thought to have no place in the bottom-line world of driving quarterly business results. Social media listening firm Talkwalker notes that 5 of the top 10 most talked about ads have a social or political theme and generated strong positive sentiment: Budweiser, Audi, Coca-Cola, 84 Lumber, and AirBnB.

Not all ads attempting to align a brand with societal values were successful: Audi’s attempt to take a stand on gender pay equity lacked a credible connection to this testosterone-fueled luxury car. And, of course, taking a stand risks alienating consumers who disagree. Since Budweiser’s “Born the Hard Way” ad was originally conceived long before the election, I’m not convinced they were trying to make a statement about immigration policy. But it is certainly being seen in that tone and has brought out a fair share of trolls commenting on YouTube.

These brands are acknowledging that the idea that “the business of business is business” is changing. Along with my colleagues Henry Peyret, Brigitte Majewski, Alex Cullen and Drew Green, I have been exploring the changing nature of how consumers incorporate these broader values into their brand decisions. Stay tuned for the report but our research tells us 3 things a brand must do to walk this delicate line in today’s polarized environment.

  • Carefully consider where your brand should be on what Carol Cone calls “The Purpose Spectrum”
  • Be authentic and back up the words with tangible commitments
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Through The Marketing Wormhole

Melissa Parrish

What a strange time it is to be a marketer. Last year, we on the B2C marketing team fielded hundreds of questions from brands and tech partners alike about the revelations that rocked our worlds: kickbacks, tech consolidation, opacity of even decades-old partnerships, measurement screw-ups from the world’s second largest digital advertising player, and the possibility of a single tweet sending share prices tumbling. And yet…

The increasing importance of content—especially video, both live and otherwise—is driving a renewed dependence on agencies. Facebook had an absolutely insane Q4 and Snap Inc filed their S-1. Advertisers didn't shy away from Super Bowl buys even with declining NFL ratings; they’re just going cross-platform, even if they won’t be able to measure its effectiveness.

What is going on? Are we so optimistic that we’re ignoring the data in front of us that seems to say we should be taking a cold, hard look at our strategic planning? Is it that given the greater world context over the last year we no longer know if we can trust the evidence in the first place? Is it as simple as marketers following the eyeballs, proof of efficacy (and constant Forrester pleas to improve your measurement) be damned?

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Your 7 content mega- giga- uber- supra- monster trends for 2017

Ryan Skinner

It’s Groundhog’s Day, when a sleepy landpig emerges from his little mancave and entertains questions from the press about astronomical phenomena!
As good a day as any to share a few content trends where we at Forrester expect to see considerable acceleration this year.

Here are your 6 content trends and one wannabe-trend that won’t trend in 2017.

The first megatrend
Direct-to-consumer pushes CPG out of the brand advertising comfort zone

Direct-to-consumer plays by the CPG giants, and even more so the CPG small guys, will put substantial pressure on brand marketers to invest in content and experiences that drive action. That means more content for richer websites, email programs, product documentation, and paid and unpaid executions. Mondelez’s made a $10 billion bet on this, and Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club signals their interest in more direct subscription-driven sales.

What does it mean?
Digital agencies with strong content chops and some ecommerce nous will be the winners, as brand teams ramp up their direct marketing capabilities.

The second gigatrend
Stunts and experiential executions set higher bars for hero and community content

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The Data Digest: Online Video Ad Spending Is Set To Make A Splash In 2017

Brandon Verblow

Up until now, paid services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO have dominated US online video viewing, particularly for long-form, TV-style content. Uptake of ad-supported, TV-style online video has been slower; traditional TV providers control much of this content, and they’ve been cautious about making their programming available outside the lucrative TV bundle. Even if many viewers want to cut the cord, they may not follow through as they realize they cannot get all the content they want. YouTube, of course, has a massive ad-supported online video business that has been growing healthily according to our calculations. However, even YouTube falls short of Netflix in terms of downstream bandwidth consumption, and its estimated ad revenue is only a small fraction of traditional TV ad revenue. For online video ad spend to show meaningful growth, consumer-generated or web-only content won’t be enough. A truly robust online video ad market will require the migration of traditional TV content to digital platforms.

This migration appears to be gathering momentum. Recently, we have seen a number of developments that could drive the uptake of ad-supported online video and that indicate that 2017 could be the year when ad-supported online video starts to make a splash.

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Game Over: Don’t Let Twitter’s NFL Ads Dazzle You

Jessica Liu

Last April, we blogged about Twitter’s marquee agreement with the National Football League (NFL). The industry was abuzz: The two joining forces meant a marrying of live programming with social commentary. In its inaugural season, Twitter-NFL’s powerful partnership presented an enticing live streaming package for marketers because:

  • Marketers view social media as an attractive marketing channel. In our Forrester Data: US Social Media Forecast, 2016 To 2021 (US), social ad spend is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% in the next five years. 
  • Live streaming captures younger eyeballs in particular. Millennials are the first to embrace streaming in all of its forms, appealing to marketers trying to capture fragmented audiences. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics(R) data reveals that 63% percent of Millennials (age 18-36) watch 5 or more hours of TV shows, films or video online. This is a significant percentage of their TV time so marketers must learn how to reach this audience outside of linear TV types of viewing. 
  • The NFL’s proven content sweetens the package. NFL games garner high viewership and in a typical week dominate the top 10 most-watched shows, especially among the coveted 18-49 age demographic. And primetime programming, especially sports content, is one of the most popular conversation topics on Twitter. 
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Want to Bridge Company Divisions? Just Say No To Silos.

Erna Alfred Liousas
Well fellow marketers, the beginning of 2017 has been fast and furious! I’m sure I’m amongst friends when I share my year-end was a combination of: wrapping up projects, supporting last minute revenue efforts, reviewing predictions for 2017, and saying goodbye to 2016 actions that should never be repeated. I'm proud to say,  now that 2017 is finally here, I’m doubling down on my “dismantle the silo” charge. And the reason is simple: customers.  We are running out of time and opportunities to grab and keep their attention.  They don’t have time or the desire to entertain disjointed experiences. Let’s face it, as customers ourselves, we feel the same. Now is the time to act, which means business units within organizations must join forces to create differentiated brand experiences.
 
My latest report written with my colleagues Ian Jacobs and Laura Naparstek , “Use Social To Bridge The Gap Between Marketing and Customer Service,” discusses the benefits a marketing and customer service pairing creates for customers and the brand.  Legacy silos prevent innovation and the cultivation of new internal connections. If we let these silos stand, we end up contributing to the negative customer experiences that happen when marketing and servicing don’t work together. So, keep the following in mind:
 
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