11 trends / effects of the economic crisis on Marketing & Communications in 2009

October 23, 2008 at 10:25 am | Posted in Control, Conversation, Customisation, Disruption, General, Innovation, Integration, Mass, Metrics, Segmentation, Strategic planning, Trends | 1 Comment

1. Fragmentation of mass audiences to continue

a. For people who have passed a disruption line, expectations have already permanently changed. These shifts in expectations (control, customization, conversation, connection) can not be undone.

b. Fragmentation process / access to disruptive devices will slow (restricted access to credit – especially for middle class)

c. The only things that variable that can be disrupted is the overall value proposition e.g price related, perceived value and other brand related attributes

2. Discretionary content expenditure under scrutiny

a. Need to buy / construct customer / consumer loyalty

b. Focus on subscription packages rather than a-la-carte (e.g. newsstand sales will suffer)

c. Free content to thrive

3. Less innovation

a. R&D to be reduced

b. Fewer software upgrades

c. Less interface development – focus on existing or standardized formats etc to drive efficiencies

4. Safe harbor

a. Clients will become risk averse

b. Increased need to understand the risk profile of decision stakeholders

c. Intelligence & Research will be reduced chasing short term results

d. Standardised / tried and true interfaces / formats

5. No major events

a. Fewer annual event sponsorship packages

b. Pressure on visibility properties

c. Focus on message segmentation (rather than content separation)

6. Increased need for alignment and integration

a. Lots of desperate tactical proposals (media vehicles & agencies in survival mode)

b. Essential to agree to what is of value (can be integrated, aligned with core idea)

7. Tactical flexibility

a. No major events – focus on tactical buys

b. Variable, highly sensitive demand driven market

8. Increased focus on accountability and efficiency

a. Need to align metrics with business goals / KPIs

b. Need to define success (impossible to measure results without predefined success parameters)

c. Reduction in the number of campaign content pieces (fewer better quality, planning content to be versatile across platforms)

9. Focus on loyalty

a. Consumers / customers, under pressure, will be more promiscuous and more likely to challenge premium priced / value added products and services

b. Concentration of sales strategies – 80/20 rule – consolidate heavy user business

c. Branding & relevant customer conversation becoming more important.

d. Get closer to customers to reduce tactical promotion driven churn

e. Increased power of trusted advocacy e.g. word-of-mouth (free, credible, easily found e.g. blogs)

10. Content costs

a. Increased global content distribution to leverage critical mass

b. Imported content costs increasing – favors local content producers

11. Tension between mass and segmented marketing (targeting and messaging)

a. Mass appears to be efficient (based on tactical execution metrics), but has a generalised message and significant impact wastage.

b. Segmented marketing has a better probability of message relevance and ROI (Strategic metrics)

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BABELFISH – Top Headlines September 25, 2008

September 25, 2008 at 6:23 pm | Posted in Agency Model, Digital thinking, Integration, Segmentation, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Firstly, sorry for being off the grid over the last month. Wired again….so here we go…

Y Moms Connect Through The Internet; X Moms Task | Mediapost

Why you should be interested: This puts some meat to the theory that younger people use web tools mainly for socializing, while young adults tend to be more objective in their web use (i.e. as they balance work needs with personal entertainment / socializing)

Your Data With Destiny | AdAge

Why you should be interested: Although his reference to `post advertising age` is a bit sensational, in general a very goods article by Bob Garfield that gives some good examples of how path-to-purchases are being disrupted, how technology is helping attend to increased needs for segmentation and data and insight extrapolation.

I (heart) Google Chrome | Experiencematters

Why you should be interested: Chrome, Googles new web browser (to compete with Microsofts ubiquitous Internet Explorer) is a major disruptor because it redefines how browsers work. In short, Chrome is faster than existing browsers because it processes information in parallel.

Part 1 of 3: Future Interfaces Will Be More Natural | Organic Three Minds

Part 2 of 3: Future Interfaces Will Be More Intelligent | Organic Three Minds

Part 3 of 3: Future Interfaces Will Be Everywhere | Organic Three Minds

Why you should be interested: As we move from standardized analogue interfaces to new user controlled digital interfaces, we need to understand what tools we have to play with to best present out content and experience. These rather detailed articles dimensionalize the dynamics of interface design and start to explain in laymans terms, the challenges we have ahead.

Branding in a New Dimension – How to build a brand and a relationship in a Web 2.0 world | Adweek

A Holistic Approach – It’s time to bring all media under a single umbrella | Adweek ~ Bob Greenberg

Why you should be interested: A couple of good articles from Bob Greenberg depicting how digital is changing the process of branding and is forcing integration between disciplines. He gives some good examples of how brands need to redefine the way they present themselves because of digital environments e.g. how does a brand move, what does a logo sound like.. and I would add other sensorial stimulation e.g. how does a brand smell etc

The Metrics Maze – Am I Lost? | Mediapost

Measurement Hurdle for New Media | ADWEEK ONLINE
Why you should be interested: `If you dont aim at anything, the chances are that you will hit nothing` Pretty obvious, but an area that forces client and suppliers to:

1) audit your measurement capabilities (separating strategic and executional),

2) define success (because at the end of the day we all get paid to meet our goals)

3) set realistic measurement KPI’s that cascade up to business goals

4) develop tools / structures to measure success and

5) set a plan to evolve all off the above over time

Google Strikes Partnership With NBC to Expand in TV Advertising | New York Times
Is The Future of Media Buying Already Here? | Mediapost
Google to be arbitrageur for NBCs cable NETWORKS | WARC

Why you should be interested: An interesting pilot program for Google to extend its sales and inventory management tools to other media. A logical step for media vehicles to maximize revenue for often unsold or undervalued space. One more step towards the commoditization of media space that increases the need for old style agencies / media shops to develop a new value propositions for clients.

If you have a few more spare minutes, a more extensive list of headlines is available – click here: BABELFISH Full latest headlines.

BABELFISH – Top Headlines August 29, 2008

August 30, 2008 at 3:11 pm | Posted in Control, Digital thinking, Disruption, General, Integration, Mobility, Segmentation, Strategic planning, Through-the-funnel, Top-of-the-funnel, Traditional, video | Leave a comment

Survey: Many executives say on-the-job Web surfing is OK | The Business Journal
Why you should be interested:  One of the biggest challenges in corporations is to foster a digital culture. Obviously, web based tools and enterprise content access systems can generate considerable efficiencies. Web based tools encourage self service / pull information rather than companies having to hire people to manually push content out to users.

The line gets blurry when managers see staff appearing to waste time on Instant Messenger or in non-work related social community blogs. Flipping the coin, hypocritical corporations can’t ban at work social web use while they continue to invade employee personal time with intrusive devices like Smartphones / Blackberrys (always on / always connected to boss and client syndrome).

Similar to corporate policies regarding access to pornography, companies can establish rules of engagement without over-policing staff (or causing unnecessary tension between work and personal functions). Sure, employees need to respectful and have some limits on socializing during work hours, but a the same time, managerial styles need to change to reflect disrupted consumer expectations, especially regarding control, multitasking, content rights management, collaboration and networking.

Blocking access to information and tools that encourage digital culture is short-term corporate thinking. Maybe corporations need to cater to the growing expectation to balance / multitask personal and work based content consumption and integrated social and work based tools (like the way people use IM).

 

Yahoo Launches Fire Eagle To Manage Location-Based Information | Washington Post
Mobile phones will become main marketing tool: KV Kamath | The Economic Times

‘Sports Illustrated’ Sells Ads Via Online Auction | Advertising Age
Why you should be interested:  Location based targeting is the emerging frontier of segmented marketing. It is liberating small to medium sized businesses to use once mass media content forms and vehicles.

The pioneers in this area are the US cable companies e.g. Comcast. They have been able to isolate demographically (and behaviorally) down to specific households (based on Cable TV billing details and viewing habits)

Geographic or location based targeting, is complicated and limited via traditional internet alone. Most people connect to the internet via an ISP (Internet Service Provider). The problem is that ISP’s are not organized geographically (you could be using an ISP backbone based in India for all you know). Hence, to geographically isolate information via internet, the user either has to nominate where they are (e.g. a drop down menu on entry…resulting in extra clicks) or we have to ask consumers to register and provide their geographic location.

Mobile is opening up a whole new level of geographic targeting because it allows marketers to send messages to consumers within a specific location (Via Bluetooth or Infrared) or target people in a specific region relative to the internet base station that they are using to connect. This opens up efficient marketing opportunities to a whole new market of local businesses.

Another linked trend is the development of low cost / template based content generation / management tools e.g. SpotRunner. These tools facilitate good quality, extremely dynamic production, flexible for localized versioning, at a very low cost.

Lastly, internet based bidding systems are allowing vehicles to efficiently monetize once fragmented, unsellable or undervalued space.

When you link the three efficient elements (Space + Content + Targeting), you have a functioning version of the accountable and dynamic future of marketing.

 

Imagining a World of Interactive Movie Theaters | Advertising Age
Why you should be interested:  Without sounding like an advertisement, cinema inherently has many qualities that attend to the needs of the digital era, including: a) an  attentive, captive audience, with few distractions b) one of richest and most efficient content forms in video c) geographically and behaviorally segmented audiences.

Arguably, live performance / interaction is the most powerful content form because: a) it’s ability to engage all of the senses (including smell and temperature), b) ability to adjust messaging on the fly to the audience mood c) geographically and behaviorally segmented audiences d) facility to offer product samples and value added material e) ability to easily measure exit attitudes and opinions.

As many music performers have already discovered, when you combine the two, video with interactivity, you have a very powerful experience. Moving forward, when you incorporate automated feedback mechanisms e.g. using mobile devices / phones, the cinema environment becomes a very powerful marketing tool.

 

ZAP & BuscaPe Unite to Integrate Classified Ads and Online Shopping in Brazil | PR Newswire
Why you should be interested:  BuscaPe is a price comparison site. Zap is an online version of traditional newspaper classifieds. The combination of the two provides significant scale and a richer online shopping experience journey (both new and used products). As e-commerce business models mature, keep an eye out for these disruptive mergers / integration of tools and content to gain a competitive value added advantage.

 

If you have a few more spare minutes, a more extensive list of headlines is available – click here: BABELFISH Full latest headlines

BABELFISH – Top Headlines August 5, 2008

August 5, 2008 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Agency Model, Control, Conversation, Customisation, Digital thinking, Disruption, General, Infrastructure, Innovation, Integration, Mass, Path-to-purchase, Segmentation, Strategic planning, Through-the-funnel, Top-of-the-funnel | Leave a comment

Why the Internet Enhances TV Advertising | Advertising Age
Why you should be interested: Cheap cost-per-thousand distribution combined with an extremely powerful content form in video, has helped sustain TV advertising as the default weapon of mass distribution. 

 

Many a client has been heard to scream in frustration at the relatively unaccountable nature of mass demand generation. What happens in the cloud of uncertainty between the mass demand building message and the moment the customer walks in the shop door to purchase??

 

Fragmentation of this mass distribution power combined with new tools that enable segmentation of messaging are setting mew marketing practice precedents and challenging the concentration of marketing efforts in mass messaging.

 

Along this complex path to consideration, purchase intent and ultimate purchase, marketers now are acknowledging that there is a delicate balance mass demand generation and segmented messaging.

 

TV will still remain a powerful mass demand generator, but the world of segmented content distribution, led by the internet is where the exciting stuff is happening.

 

Consumers find ads in long-form online video ‘reasonable’ | BizReport
Are Short Videos Best for the Web? | eMarketer
Why you should be interested: Moving from a world of standardized content lengths to a more free-form environment, we need to test the elasticity / expectation of users. Of course the answer is ..the form and duration of content depends on the idea / message objective. This study shows that users will tolerate longer form video content on the relatively smaller computer screen, although I believe that the motive is more convenience of on-demand than preferred viewing experience.

 

Digital ad agency reaches out to old media | Washington Post
Why you should be interested: For many years, digital agencies have been building credibility / equity with clients by getting closer to their business, building segmented messaging strategies and providing measurable results. So, it is no surprise that digital agencies are trying to leverage this equity by expanding services into the relatively vacant strategic space left by the once dominant big mass messaging agencies. Big agency culture provides many barriers to change, and arguably, in the short to medium-term, digital agencies are in a very good position to find fertile revenue growth in the integrated strategic planning space.

 

Recognizing Transformation Triggers…Before It’s Too Late | Accenture

Why you should be interested: One of the greatest challenges for any organization is to gauge how aggressive they need to be in building capabilities in a dynamic marketplace.

 

Change in the communication space is manifesting itself in two forms 1) The need for communication innovation (driven by content distribution fragmentation and consumers resistance to irrelevant messages) 2) The need for always-on content (to facilitate brand related conversation and answer specific questions to influence purchase decisions). The iterative steps to achieve competitiveness are logical, but the eternal question remains as to how fast do marketers need to change.

 

This very good article argues that for significantly disruptive change `It is crucial to spot the impending danger early on and make fundamental rather than incremental change`

 

If you have a few more spare minutes, a more extensive list of headlines is available – click here: BABELFISH Full latest headlines

 

 

 

 

 

 

The opportunity cost of over-engineering / over-producing TV commercials.

February 29, 2008 at 7:03 am | Posted in Digital thinking, General, Segmentation, Traditional, video | 1 Comment

 

Back in the good old days before audience content consumption fragmentation, it made sense to invest heavily in the crucial staple 30 second commercial. We relied heavily on it’s ability to drive demand. We made an art of measuring the frequency of exposure and constructing it’s content became an unquestionable `high ticket`art form.

Contrary to advertising doomsday analysts, the content landscape is definitely changing, but no, the 30 second commercial is not dead and will not be as long as marketers have the need to stimulate mass demand. Video will remain an extremely powerful content form and TV is still the most efficient content mass distribution form ever invented (that is if they don’t break the model by spending rediculously on High definition).

A cynic may also say that it’s still good business to spend someone else’s money the easiest way possible and increase production values.

My question though is, has this game gone too far?

When developing genuinely innovative connection ideas and insights are either too expensive, or beyond the capability of an antiquated structure, or when a brand has nothing worthwhile to say, it is much easier to mask our charade and wow a client and customer with `bling, bling` special effects and mega productions.

I fear that it may just be one more case of an old (very profitable) industry holding onto it’s business model. Ad agencies make easy money producing just a few expensive mass messaging commercials. Likewise, film production companies refuse to erode their very profitable business model.

Web video is reminding us that the idea is the key to start a conversation, not the production values or the expense of the production.

At the same time, we are approaching a tipping-point between mass and segmented messaging and that TV film production, and possibly bad advice from ad agencies is robbing new media of production investment and retarding much needed content diversification and interface design.

So, what’s the solution?

OK! Ad agencies will argue that producing more video and other content forms will be way too expensive and work intensive. Sure, planning departments are not structured to generate the multiple segmented insights required for more molecular messaging.

Similarly, clients are not structured for the increased vendor roster, project management / approval burden.

Also, there is a definite political risk for clients who dare to expose themselves and support change. No IT manager will get fired for buying Microsoft (regardless of the bugs and flaws), but by forcing a change to Linux, even if it is a smart decision, every disruption is amplified.

The reality is that there is too much inertia / too many structural problems in the agency model to drive the required change. If disruption to their business demands more segmented messaging or a innovation from a diversified content & contact mix, this change needs to be driven by clients.

Risk is merely perception. To affect change, I think we also need to take a step back and re-look at our perception of `too expensive`. Is mass messaging with short term, often totally unaccountable effect a wise place to over-invest??

The real question that we need to reflect on is; If diversified content forms and more segmented messaging produce more relevant and effective brand / consumer conversations, are they actually more expensive?? Is there a larger opportunity cost to ignore the change or set a measured (even if it is perceived as more costly) action plan to find a communication mix that makes our brands relevant to our consumers again.

Cheers, BC

Is Molecular Marketing a solution when mass messaging stops working?

February 22, 2008 at 11:46 pm | Posted in Agency Model, Customisation, Digital thinking, Integration, Mass, Molecular, Path-to-purchase, Segmentation, Strategic planning, Through-the-funnel | 1 Comment

In an era where companies are under pressure to increase shareholder value & efficiencies, John Wannamaker´s famous statement, “I know that half my advertising works, I just don’t know which half” has never been more worrying.

The power of mass messaging is eroding. Some consumers are becoming less responsive to general messaging being pushed at them and are summoning marketers to speak to them on their terms. Many now interact with content with a purpose, goal or need that drives their behavior. In the extreme, they reject most messaging and expect to be seduced by a brand experience to enter into a brand related conversation.

Brand communication is this environment is a bit like raising a teenager. You do your best to teach your kids right from wrong, but at the same time they can be affected by many external factors. Unlike the predictable and controlled process of dropping them at the cinema, when you drop them at a party, pick them up at the end, you never knowing what they actually did. We have to trust that our guidance leads them to navigate safely through the experience.

Likewise, when using mass communication, after the initial Ad. exposure, even the most sophisticated marketers lose their customer in ‘clouds of uncertainty’ or ‘blind spots’ during the decision process. If they are lucky, they find them again at the time of purchase. Unfortunately, most of the time, mass marketing has very little measurable correlation to creating demand.

For stockholders, the process of ‘pushing a general mass message out to a broad audience and holding your breath, hoping for a response’, is not a responsible way to spend money that could otherwise go to the bottom line.

These issues are creating enormous tensions. Contrary to the trend, digital marketing options are creating measurable segmented delivery channels to effectively target messages and track their purchase decision process content interactions.

If traditional mass messaging stops working, what can we do to build demand?

Three complementary options are:

1. Innovation to break through the clutter and get noticed is effective for mass audiences. Whether it be content, context or contact vehicle, most innovation is very short lived. To build a sustainable innovation program often requires a cultural change re-focus your company.

2. Recent trend to become more relevant has been a move towards integrated marketing. Cross discipline integration is driving efficiencies by synchronizing activities and is working very well for products with relatively simple purchase decision processes.

3. The third approach, which directly attacks communication wastage, is segmentation. Many marketers are reluctant to fragment efforts and challenge corporate culture and restructure to explore segmentation or ‘Molecular Marketing’.

Where do I start if my brand needs segmented ‘Molecular Marketing’?

Contrary to traditional marketing, Molecular Marketing requires creating multiple brand messages for different customer clusters and modes.

This segmentation can take many forms: more specific definitions of demographics, mind-set, behavior, context, geography or messaging.

For Molecular Marketing to be effective, we need to invest to develop deeper segmented insights and we need to re-define KPI´s, particularly at different stages of the purchasing decision process.

The key is to understand the consumer’s desired experience at the ‘tipping points’ where consumers and customers are looking for content to form an opinion. The challenge then is to craft our messages to help deliver a branded experience to influence consumers purchase decision. When we align our messages with the modes that consumers are in, we can actually become a part of the experience that consumers are seeking.

Whichever the approach, segmented messaging requires a lot more work. For some categories, the benefit still doesn´t warrant the extra cost and effort. Segmentation is inherently more expensive on a cost per exposure basis, but usually ends up more efficient when you analyze return on objectives.

Where relevant, for the investment to be mutually profitable, the communication industry will have to re-benchmark its value proposition to clients and change its remuneration structure for communication services to be more results focused.

Cheers, BC

8 easy steps to optimizing the value of content in the digital era

February 20, 2008 at 5:37 am | Posted in Digital thinking, Segmentation, Strategic planning | Leave a comment

Regardless of what type of content that you produce (PR, Advertising, Entertainment, Journalism, Art piece etc), the dynamics and process for constructing and analysing content are largely the same. The following steps / dynamics will hopefully give you a better understanding of what is / what is not functioning so that you can optimize the potential distribution & connect of your idea with your desired audience.

      1) CONSUMER / CUSTOMER:

        Start with an in-depth understanding of your target. A segmentation of who they are and the types of messages / experiences that we need to lead them to an interaction or purchase. many companies are using personas to dimensionalise the similarities and differences between these various prospect groups.

      2) IDEA:

Develop a connection idea or insight that will act as a Trojan horse and can be leveraged to convey a piece of brand communication. Ideally it should be based on a behavioral, attitudinal, cultural relevance to stimulate an emotional response and spark a conversation. This traditionally has been the ‘turf’ of the creative, writer, journalist. We are finding though that data analytics and research can uncover hard insights that help unlock the once mysterious connection process.

      3) ENGAGEMENT MECHANIC:

Employ an engagement mechanic to aid in involving the audience with the idea and provide a platform for an ongoing conversation / continuity. E.g. It could be a story, a puzzle, promotion, event, stunt, feedback mechanism etc. traditional mass communication is being challenged because it normally starts at this part of the process and assume mass generic insights.

      4) CONTENT FORM:

Then explore the various content forms in which the idea can come to life. This is usually the point where innovation fails and preconceptions dictate options e.g. a magazine journalist will automatically think of his long form text article to a predefined wordcount.

As business models change and content syndication (to other 3rd party vendors and delivery devices) becomes the norm, content production processes and development structures will have to be rebuilt to explore the potential of an idea to live in as many forms as possible to optimise an ideas value (and return on investment).

      5) LENGTH:

Explore opportunities for expression using varying lengths within content forms e.g. :

A) a short form headline e.g. for use in RSS feeds / lead generation,

B) a 1 minute lead paragraph that acts as sound bite to lure consumers (similar to how a newspaper treats the first paragraph of an article)

C) the long form / full experiential content piece.

The objective is to lead people to the richest communication forms available to connect people with the idea and optimise the potential amount of time of interaction with content piece.

      6) INTERFACE:

Then develop a user interface that meets the targets expectations. Many traditional interfaces are programmed i.e. someone else decides the content standards. They also have standardized duration pods and technical specifications (that have evolved over time) to facilitate easier commercial inventory control. The emerging interfaces give the control to the consumer and by nature provide a free navigation that allows seemingly limitless interaction. Once we reduce the limits placed by programmed interfaces, we find that consumers are happy to invets more time to have a more immersive experience.

The keys to good interface design include: Design, intuitive architecture (content and navigation)  etc.

       7) DEVICE:

        Choose a delivery device (contact vehicle) that is consistent with the context and interface expectations. E.g. right hardware specifications e.g. chip processing speed, storage capacity, software capabilities.

       8). DISTRIBUTION:

Allow your content to be delivered on a relevant pipeline that meets your customers value expectations e.g. right cost proposition, sufficient access speed, timely content delivery, reliable performance.

A lot of planning conversation focuses on points #7 & #8. We argue that these are largely irrelevant if you don´t have steps #1 to #6 nailed.

The largest barrier to digital growth – demons of the past, digital silos & evangelism

February 17, 2008 at 3:44 am | Posted in Digital thinking, Evangelism, Infrastructure, Innovation, Integration, Segmentation, Strategic planning, Traditional | Leave a comment

Many digital evangelists claim the problem is that everyone else doesn´t get it!! They are partly right, but at the same time they are blind to their own ignorance and weaknesses.

The most successful digital minds are one that can either cross both the traditional and emerging worlds or partner with a mentor that can help them focus and articulate their value.

 90% of what digital evangelists claim that they are inventing – has actually already been done in the traditional world. Like naïve teenagers, they discover something (e.g. a remake of a Rolling Stones song), thinking it new, give it a name of their own and adopt it as their own groundbreaking innovation.

The problem is that digital evangelists not only disrespect historical marketing theory, but they have deliberately kept anyone (e.g. a grey hair mentor) in the dark and at arms-length. In fact, they have been guilty in many respects of ‘Reinventing the wheel’ because of the barriers that they have placed have stopped them learning from the elders of the ‘communications tribe’. In these times, where digital thinking transcends the digital mediums, it may be in the digital evangelists to be a bit more humble and sign a peace treaty.

Sure, the traditional establishment hasn´t made it easy for this seemingly disruptive splinter group. The demons of past battles still haunt the minds of digital journeymen. Likewise, the partying and arrogance prior to the digital bubble bursting and premature claims that ‘everyone associated with traditional communication are irrelevant and dying’, have left deep seated rift between the traditional and emerging communication worlds.

When an industry is growing, it makes sense to separate and concentrate efforts in a silo to achieve a sense of critical mass.  The problem is, as the pie grows, particularly in an extremely dynamic environment where training always plays a back seat to delivery, if you don´t reintegrate, there simply aren´t enough people to do the required work.

It is time that the ‘digital thoroughbreds’ start feeling a little more self-confident and start adopting and recruiting ‘digital immigrants’ people to do the work so that they can move forward and do what they do best – attack the critical problems facing communication: innovate and build conversation infrastructure. There is no doubt that digital thinkers will rule, but in this new world built upon collaboration and co-opetition, let´s hope that we all can find a way to heal the wounds, collectively swallow our pride and act as the mature leaders that our clients and customers need.

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