Smart Move: Facebook buys Atlas

Facebook just announced that it's buying marketer-side adserver Atlas from Microsoft. I think it's a great move.

It's always been clear that for Facebook to realize its potential, the company would have to start powering advertising beyond its own site. Facebook has collected an incredible amount of data about people's affinities and preferences, but it lacks the brand ad units to help marketers effectively leverage that data. Although the statement announcing the deal focused on Atlas' measurement tools rather than its ad targeting technology, we expect that Atlas will soon be using Facebook's data to target sponsorships, in-stream ads, and other rich ad formats across the entire Web — and that's big news. The question now is how quickly and successfully Facebook can integrate its data with Atlas' tools, and whether they can avoid a privacy backlash as they do so. History suggests they'll struggle on both counts.

If you want to hear more about how Facebook can turn its affinity data into something that's useful for marketers, stop by my SXSW session, Affinity, Intent & The War For Marketing Dollars, at 5 p.m. on March 10 at the Four Seasons.

Introducing the Marketing RaDaR

In our new report "Mix Art And Science For Marketing Success," we introduce a new model: The Marketing RaDaR. This model (which serves as an update to our previous 'interactive brand ecosystem' model) is designed to help you build marketing programs and strategies that support your customers all the way through the customer life cycle — and is based on data we've collected about which channels they use at each step of the customer journey.

I published a piece in Ad Age this week that explains the idea in more detail:

Poor Elias St Elmo Lewis. When he first described the sales funnel more than a hundred years ago, he was trying to map the path a single customer took to a single purchase. Little did he know how badly we’d one day abuse his model. In recent years some marketers have tried to weld ‘loyalty’ or ‘advocacy’ onto the bottom of the funnel, others have tried to ‘flip’ the funnel, and many have longed to bury the funnel entirely — all in an effort to find a model that better reflects the ongoing relationships between companies and their customers.

Read more

Facebook Graph Search: Important But Boring

I followed along as Facebook made its 'big announcement' today, and found myself torn. I think that Facebook Graph Search is:

  1. Really important. It's important because it makes Facebook a more usable and useful site. Facebook's current on-site search tool is pretty terrible -- it's almost impossible to find the people you're looking for, or any content that was posted more than a few days ago. If Facebook can help you find stuff on its site more easily then that's good both for users and for Facebook. I suspect Facebook will spend an increasing amount of its time simply upgrading existing features; now the growth in total Facebook users has slowed significantly, this type of basic upkeep will be crucial in making the site as useful as possible for the users who are already there. This type of work is boring, but it's vital -- like paying the phone bill, or fixing the leak in your roof.
  2. But not really a big deal. I've no doubt that parsing a trillion connections between a billion users is an immense challenge. And based on today's demonstration it looks like Facebook's engineers have solved that challenge pretty elegantly. But it's still just site search. The big news isn't that Facebook has fixed its search tool; the big news is that it didn't do this long ago. In fact, Facebook should be more embarrassed that its current search engine was so bad for so long than proud that its next search engine looks pretty good. For it to trumpet Graph Search as big news just looks silly. This is the kind of stuff basic, grown-up online businesses get right every day, without any fanfare. Again, like paying the phone bill, or fixing the leak in your roof.
Read more

Winners Of The 2012 Business-to-Consumer Forrester Groundswell Awards

A few minutes ago I had the pleasure of announcing the winners of the 2012 Business-to-Consumer Forrester Groundswell Awards at the Forrester eBusiness Forum in Chicago. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read through, not just the highlights below, but the full entries for all the finalists and all the winners — because once again this year we received many outstanding entries. It’s clear that social media has reached a tipping point, where savvy companies are using social tools to pursue real business objectives rather than simply chasing fans and followers. The 2012 winners put social programs to use in their organizations — successfully marketing their wares, supporting their customers, and generating insights.

Here, then, are our B2C finalists and winners for 2012.

Social Impact (Business-to-Consumer)

Winner

Million Moms Challenge Community by Blog Frog

ABC News and the United Nations Foundation partnered with BlogFrog to raise awareness and funds around issues affecting moms and babies around the world. This program identified more than 800 social influencers and activated them to create trusted content about motherhood. In total, the bloggers reached more than 15 million readers and garnered over 31 million total social media impressions. This in turn led tens of thousands of people to get actively involved: More than 15,000 people signed up for the Million Moms Challenge Community in the first two weeks.

Energizing (Business-to-Consumer)

Winner

Read more

Preparing For The Groundswell

Today, my colleagues and I are meeting to review the 2012 entries to the Forrester Groundswell Awards. As always, we’ve got some fantastic submissions this year – which you can see on our awards site – and I’m excited I’ll have a chance to recognize the winners at our upcoming Forrester eBusiness Forum.

In the process of reviewing this year’s entries, I can’t help but think back to some of the great winners we’ve recognized in past years. In particular, one I still talk about all the time is RadioShack’s winning entry in the 2011 "Energizing" category.

The campaign for RadioShack had three components:

1.       A promoted Twitter trend for #UNeedANewPhone. Those who tweeted saw offers for the new iPhone if they'd engaged with related content on Twitter.

2.       A campaign called Holiday Heroes, connected with the hashtag #IfIHadSuperPowers. If users tweeted a picture along with this hashtag, RadioShack’s artists would draw a superhero costume over the photo.

3.       A partnership with foursquare. RadioShack created a Holiday Hero badge. To earn the badge, which held exclusive discounts and offers, consumers had to check in at two of three Holiday Hero hotspots.

Read more

The Deadline For Forrester Groundswell Award Entries Is Today!

Just a reminder that you've got less than 24 hours to enter your submission for the 2012 Forrester Groundswell Awards - we'll be accepting entries until 11:59pm Eastern Time (EDT) tonight.

More details on the awards, and how to enter, can be found here. Good luck, everyone!

How To Approach Your Social Marketing Initiative

At Forrester, we’ve always strived to help our clients address their challenges from a number of different angles, and now we’re formalizing this approach with an idea called playbooks. Each playbook we write is focused on one specific business challenge and is designed to give you every detail you’ll need to be successful.

Our interactive marketing research team is hard at work writing playbooks that cover mobile marketing, email marketing, digital media buying, and more — and I couldn’t be more pleased that our first interactive marketing playbook is the Social Marketing Playbook. We’ve worked to create a playbook that’ll help you:

  • Discover social marketing. You’ll see how firms like Unilever and De Beers defined a vision for fitting social into their marketing plans; you’ll be able to survey the social landscape around the world; and you’ll learn how marketers like Charles Schwab and NASCAR built the business case for social spending.
Read more

Facebook Still Doesn't Get Marketing

On its first quarterly earnings call, Facebook left it to Sheryl Sandberg to talk about how the company makes most of its money: marketing. And I was encouraged by how much she discussed the topic and how Sheryl stressed over and over the importance of proving ROI to advertisers. But I remain deeply unconvinced that Facebook can give marketers what they need, for two reasons:

  1. Facebook thinks it can prove value in generalities. When Sheryl says she recognizes the importance of proving ROI to advertisers, she means that Facebook is trying to prove that Facebook marketing can work for advertisers in general — not that it does work for any one advertiser in particular. Facebook’s efforts here to date have been in generating a handful of case studies to which it can point: "Look! Facebook marketing worked for these three advertisers! That means it works!" But marketers don’t need proof that some Facebook marketing programs work; they need proof that their Facebook marketing program works. Better yet, they need to know which of their tactics are working and which aren't so that they can learn and improve. That would require better metrics for all marketers, rather than just a handful of case studies from a few marketers.
Read more

Announcing The Sixth Annual Forrester Groundswell Awards

It’s that time of year again! That is, it’s time to look back at the very best social programs your company has run in the past twelve months, and to prepare your entry to the Forrester Groundswell Awards. This year’s entries are due on September 5, 2012 – and you can enter using our online form. We’ll be presenting the awards at Forrester Forums in October.

We’ve been lucky enough to recognize some fantastic social applications since we started these awards back in 2007 – and we’d like for you to have a great chance of winning, too. To improve your odds, we recommend you focus on two key points:

1.       Enter in the right category.This year we’ve got 17 categories spread across three divisions: Business to Consumer, Business to Business, and Business to Employee. (If you’ve entered in previous years, you’ll notice that our two B2C divisions – North America and International – have been combined into a single global division; and that our Management division has been renamed Business to Employee.) Choose the division that best describes your program’s audience (B2C, B2B or B2E), and then choose the award category that best describes the objectives of your program (for instance, Listening, Talking or Supporting). If you’re not sure which category fits best, you can review the descriptions of each category on our FAQ page.

Read more

Why You Should Use Social Marketing In China

Our clients are asking us more questions than ever about marketing in China. So we’re responding – by increasing our presence in the market, by launching our first marketing & strategy event in China, and by publishing more research on the country. In fact, today my researcher Jenny Wise and I published two new reports on marketing in China: The Key To Interactive Marketing In China and Social Media Marketing In China. Below are Jenny’s thoughts on social media in China:

If you’re marketing in China, social media offers an enormous opportunity: Chinese online adults are the most socially active among any of the countries we survey worldwide, and a whopping 97% of metropolitan Chinese online adults use social tools. And this isn’t only driven by the younger generations — we find that on average Chinese Internet users ages 55 to 64 are more active in  most social behaviors than US Internet users ages 25 to 34.

But a Chinese social media strategy is not that simple to implement, especially for Westerners accustomed to marketing on sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube – none of which operate in this market. So before you take the leap into social media in China, be sure that you:

Read more