AniBlurbs (Column)

Anibal's thoughts on Online Marketing Strategy, Service Design, Tech, Innovation, Business and more…

The Future of MarCom and Media: Mad Men Meets Silicon Valley?

“The truth is, advertisers and brand marketers are entering a brave new world — one where code is on par with content. The 21st-century ad isn’t something to be looked at, it’s something to be used… …”Consumers” are now “Users.” So are “Marketers” now “Developers”?”

“…having someone who at least can help a creative team understanding how the software should look is very helpful. “I think having somebody like that, even if they are not the ones coding the app, helps bridge the gap between the technical and the creative…”

Source: AdAge – Agencies Need to Think Like Software Companies

              

Business Value = Subscribers * Demographics
Business Value = Eyeballs + relevance * intent

Last week’s talk of the town among media in crowd and digerati was that spending on Online Marketing in the UK finally has taken pole position from Offline Advertising.

Make no mistake: this is significant. (Remember this is BBC territory!)

              

For years eyeballs, attention and now -as predicted and long overdue- budget weight have shifted from TV, Radio and Print to Interactive Media, culminating in this milestone.

              

Why this change from spending budget on Offline Advertising to investing in Online Marketing Strategies?

And why this plea to repurpose the inner workings of agencies (and ASAP at that)?

              

Well, to answer the first question, here’s a list of activities people in general are currently undertaking (online) instead of massively tuning in on prime-time (or, indeed, instead of buying and reading newspapers) like they used to:

  • Checking news anytime, online, for free;
  • Discovering and consuming online content, via “Social Distribution”, for free;
  • Shopping online, any time they like;
  • Spending days on end playing videogames;
  • Spending evenings (cocooning with friends or family) watching TiVo or DVD’s;
  • Leaving comments and reviewing products on that very same e-commerce site;
  • Discussing and reviewing artists, movies, products and brands on niche online communities;
  • Logging in daily to update their status in social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook (or even several times a day – thanks to mobile flat-rate data plans and apt mobile devices and smart phones such as Apple’s iPhone, RIM’s BlackBerry and the Nokia N series, to name but a few).

              

Okay, I’m bound to have missed many, many more, yet even the online media consumption / activities I’ve inevitably missed, share core characteristics with the ones mentioned above, which, when indentified and aligned next to each other, should underline my statement that agencies need some unadulterated tech DNA should they hope to help their clients connect online with their audience.

              

Creatives need to be specialists in the spaces where consumers live that are defined by new technology.

“If agencies are to continue to offer the highest value to their clients, and realize the full potential of new media on behalf of their clients, they need to make sure every department is as technology literate as consumersSimon Mainwaring

              

So, why the need for new fresh Silicon Valley Blood for agencies in this post-Madison Avenue MarCom ecosystem? Well, for starters, all the activities mentioned above:

– are On Demand;
– are personalized;
– are ubiquitous;
– are interactive (vs. passive content consumption);
– put the user in control;

-And… they’ve become a habit.

              

Habits slowly but steadily ingraining themselves in modern culture on a global scale.

All of these activities have replaced, or are in the process of replacing, the habit of, say, going home after school or work, watching the same mass orientated, one-size-fits-all TV shows like the rest of the populous, within timeslots deemed fit by a few network coordinators, all the while zapping away the interruption marketed ads…

              

(On a side note, what has also been replaced is blindly following the opinion of a select few elitists, or opinion leaders, so you will. You don’t need (trust?) one or more reporters from the New York Times to tell you that The Dark Knight or District 9 are movies worth an evening out to the multiplex, what book is a must-read or which restaurant should be on your shortlist, as even more so than usual, nowadays people are forming their own opinion by reading online peer reviews or discussing their customer care experience online, no holds barred.

Internet killed the middleman.

And the platforms facilitating this have a reach of millions and sometimes even billions, globally.

This continuous two-way online dialogue is another reason why the one-way message sending, branding specialists need to acquire interactive skill- and mindsets…)

              

It’s The Internet, Stupid

Why doesn’t the traditional model work online? In short, the web is too fragmented (millions of videos, millions of web sites), too loosely coupled (countless hyperlinks, embed codes, APIs), and too nascent (too few revenue models, too little clarity about the future) to fit comfortably into a media conglomerate as they exist today.”

“The challenge is that the scarce resources are different: while the media business continues to rely on “talent,” today’s talent may be writing code rather than screenplays. Distribution still creates value, but it can mean a quickly passed link on Twitter or Facebook instead of an 8 p.m. slot on a broadcast network”.

Source: Giga Om – New Media Demands a New Kind of Media Company

              

But these factors are not the only causes for this disruptive re-allocating of budget.

Sure, everyone agrees that you should “fish where the fish are”, but the main reason that budgets are finally being freed up from political unwillingness or irrational conservatism, is that in these times of crises, true accountability in marketing and advertising has finally become key.

              

There’s no need for (hiding behind) second guessing or causality in MarCom anymore: Plausible effective advertising maybe was “fine” yesterday, today proven effectiveness by conversion is vast becoming the golden standard.

              

The current recession has acted as a catalyst for this silk media revolution, merely accelerating the inevitable.

Now the marketer finally knows which half of her marketing euro, dollar, yen or what have you, is wasted on naught and which half is an investment; generating leads or spurring your core hyper targeted audience into action. All in real-time, if necessary, meaning you can act real-time.

              

“It’s to no fault that many account teams have no concept of what web development entails in terms of budget and time. Too many times there are promises made that cannot be fulfilled. Having a cross functional, technically savvy professional on hand to lay out accurate budget and time frames in real time ensures that the client is not mislead by a traditional account person reliant on third party estimates.”

              

It’s no longer about the clever award winning Creative Director and his team of witty art-director/copywriter duo’s.

              

This also means that the sole focus in marketing and advertising isn’t about “sending content” anymore, but it’s about the underlying technologies that facilitate dialogue between brand and stakeholders, and empowers them both.

It’s about, for example, creating branded tools that might prove useful in everyday mundane tasks for the user: Apps-as-a-Brand-Utility. Eyeballs. Attention.

              

Now it’s about the pragmatic award winning Managing Director and her team of developers and creative technologists.

              

“Code” and “(meta)data” have earned their rightful place next to “design” and “gut-feeling”, thus switching the demand from pure creative output to actionable insights based on real-time data; apps and open platforms for effective communication, feedback and co-creation. All of this fundamentally challenging the very raison d’être and modus operandi of traditional agencies.

“Various models have evolved over the years but the successful ones have at their core a few talented individuals who “get it” when it comes to the nuts and bolts of technology, the subtleties of strategic brand building and the figures that justify an ROI…

the more multidisciplinary people an agency can employ without forcing generalists into specialized silos, the better equipped they’ll be to provide true integration.”

              

As it is becoming increasingly clear that consumers are changing their daily work-, leisure- and decision-making(!) systematic from Analogue- to Digital based; brands/advertisers and traditional MarCom specialists will have to adapt & change their Tech know-how (what vs. why), their thought patterns (creative top-down factories vs. embracing digital natives and co-creating), and their priorities (branding vs. true empirical accountability) to match this new reality or ultimately end up like that frog in the slow-boiling pan.

The long-term solution however, is not going to be purely a technological one, but rather an anthropological and sociological one; the real challenge lies in the cultural change and organizational restructuring needed to save traditional agencies from the same dark fate (or worse) as the music industry and newspaper & magazine publishers. Out with the old…

              

[Yes, the very fact that it’s 2009 and I’m posting this rant as being new(s), means that somehow there’s still a need for summaries and musings like this, however obvious and stale it might seem to fellow digital natives and digerati in-crowd alike. Yet, I believe that this needs to be heard and echoed. I’m merely trying to add a drip in the quite -possible very pretentious- hope all the accumulated drips will eventually flood the ivory tower of cognitive dissonance that some board rooms and CEO’s (across all traditional agencies and entertainment outlets) dwell in.]

Read more thoughts about Apps-as-a-Brand-Utility, the future of advertising, “Creative Technologists” and the ideal DNA composition for successful marketers and agencies in the 21st Century in this excellent article by Allison Mooney on Advertising Age.

              





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Pay with Facebook: The “One-Click” Solution to Save Newspapers Online?

“…there is a group of executives inside the company that believe “Pay With Facebook” could end up a bigger revenue source than Facebook’s advertising revenues. We’ve estimated Facebook’s advertising revenues will reach $475 million in 2009.

To get an idea what kind of challenges Facebook will have to overcome to get there, consider that during the second quarter, eBay subsidiary PayPal’s revenues were $669 million, up 11% y/y.

It got there with:

  • 75 million active registered accounts
  • A total payment volume of $16 billion in the quarter
  • With accounts containing approximately $3 billion in stored value that is spent every 2 weeks
  • Supporting 19 currencies
  • With a .30% fraud rate

Facebook can’t approach any of those numbers yet, but it does possess one distinct advantage — nearly 300 million monthly active users.

What’s more, the rousing success that is Facebook Connect — the service that allows users to log in to participating third-party sites using their Facebook IDs with one click — hints that Facebook users might appreciate a similar “one-click” simplicity when paying for merchandise on the Internet.”

Be sure to check the whole article at BusinessInsider.com

Privacy concerns aside, one can imagine that Facebook’s One-Click payment solution, along with the social sharing of articles and posts through Facebook Connect, could be the panacea for newspaper publishers looking for ways of monetizing content beyond the stale and flailing “generate-pageviews-sell-banners” business model.

How so?

Well, besides the general mentality that digital content should be “free”, one of the major issues in monetizing content on the web by surrounding it with a “Pay-First wall”, is the fact that visitors don’t know in advance what (quality) they’ll exactly be paying for; consumers fear buying a shrink-wrapped magazine purely based on its cover, only to be disappointed afterwards.

Whereas on iTunes or with Steam you usually know that what your getting is guaranteed to have a substantial replay-factor or, in the case of iTunes, since the price is relatively low, you can afford the risk of a dud every now and then.

This, arguably, is not the case with ubiquitous news, or in-depth articles.

Utilizing Facebook’s micro-payment solution combined with Facebook Connect however, publishers will have the opportunity of using a “hassle-less” One-Click online payment solution, powered by trusted(?) recommendations of friends: “Hey Todd, here’s an article I just read about Obama’s healthcare reform,  touching it from a viewpoint I believe you’d find interesting, check it out. Cheers, Brian.” Ching!

Farfetched? For a showcase of the true power of social sharing: Think the Bit.Ly-shortened links being universally shared on twitter, spreading idea’s, content (and malware) virally. Only this time it’s done by folks with verified Facebook ID’s so you know they’re actually real and can be trusted.

Off course, should the scenario sketched above come to fruition, Facebook will have to get a piece of the revenue pie too, but the publishing moguls ‘d be wise to carefully re-consider jumping into their fabled “No-Can-Do” reflexes, since it’s becoming increasingly clear that the other option for them and their companies’ stakeholders is not having a pie to share at all…

(PS please note that I deliberately left all privacy concerns regarding Facebook out of this exercise, since I believe that we should topple the online publishing troubles in a concentric way; shilling away to the core, tackling the multifaceted problem layer by layer, instead of pre-maturely obstruficating any possible solution by thinking in limitations only.
This, however, does not imply that I don’t see the possible dangers of Facebook not only owning your social graph and personal data, but also knowing when you bought what (and whom approved said purchase!) and where you’re likely to go to form a political opinion or otherwise.

Though I feel and see that having this kind of aggregated combined profile data of possibly more than 300 million people in the hands of one party could pose a real threat when falling into the wrong hands, I urge you to go and take a look over at Alexander van Elsas’s blog, as he has already indentified and dissected this problem with great abandon.)





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Spreading a Viral: Honda Demonstrates Content Integration on Vimeo

Honda recently did a take-over on Vimeo.com which was much talked about by marketing insiders.

Instead of posting or explaining the concept here, I’d like to suggest you’d first take a look over on the site and experience it for yourself -especially if you’re a creative/interactive professional and haven’t seen it already.

[Performance warning: close down any other browser tabs/windows or any other application that has a direct net connection right now, I know I suffered from some serious lag the first time.]

Apart from the novelty(?) factor of this kind of creative content-integration, I’m not quite sure where the real added value for Honda and its customers lies in this particular case.

I’ll get back to that thought in a moment though; first I’d like to point to a section on the page that caught my attention. It clearly depicts how a viral starts spreading (see the 2 images below):

Honda Insight Vimeo TakeOver

Honda Insight - Vimeo Take over Stats

The table contains the statistics of said video on a daily basis, i.e.: how many times it was watched, “liked” and how many comments were made on the page itself, all in relation to each other and non-cumulative (note that the numbers are displayed on a per day basis!).

Clearly, the usual exponential viral mechanisms are at work here, which is fascinating in of itself, yet I believe that despite these pretty impressive numbers this mini-campaign as is will not enjoy a widespread viewer base and live up to its true potential, mainly because of the following 4 reasons:

  1. The content isn’t “spreadable”;
  2. A lack of a clear call to action;
  3. The quality of the content itself and
  4. There’s no follow-up.

The content isn’t spreadable, technically speaking:
Notice how I didn’t embed the video right here as I usually would, instead referring you to Vimeo, because there was no other way you could undergo it the way it was meant to be experienced.

In other words: people will first have to go to the Vimeo page and have a true broadband internet connection(!) to experience it smoothly and in full effect; detach the video from the context of this page and it becomes just another (attempt at a) cool viral. Pure branding, zero capitalization of the ensuing conversations.

Nowadays it’s more effective to take a channel-neutral and/or federated content approach to reach out to your audience on the net, and part of that means making your content spreadable through widgets, embeddable video’s, etc.. The Vimeo video is embeddable of course, but the page -and thus the experience- is not.

There’s no call to action:
The concept itself doesn’t trigger the visitor to do anything: You just sit and watch, just like on TV…

The creative team apparently embraced the technological and creative possibilities that the internet offers in marrying video with a webpage, yet somehow failed to capitalize on the buzz that it generated and thus at the opportunity to generate leads.

Honda‘s rich media take over is no interactive advertising but more akin to an online guerrilla advert, which could have been done offline, possibly generating more buzz and brand-awareness outside the digerati niche.

Then again, it was created by Wieden & Kennedy (Amsterdam), a traditional agency with it’s roots firmly grounded in offline advertising campaigns.

The quality of the content isn’t worth spreading:
If it’s aimed at the Marketing/Tech/Creative niche: they’re already accustomed to these “Breaking-The-4th-Wall” take-over actions by now on YouTube or dedicated viral mini-sites, and this example isn’t remarkable.

If it’s not aimed at said niche, then one has to wonder why on earth it was posted on a niche social video site like Vimeo.com in the first place…

Adding all the numbers together from the stats image above, there are over a 1.750 likes, 300+ comments and 177.000 views generated in less than two weeks(!), pointing to a cult hit and/or people watching it more than once (it’s not clear whether Vimeo filters out non-unique views/cookies).

On the other hand, the numbers in the table don’t depict all mentions of the video across the Social Media space, and it was only posted a few days ago, so this is just merely the tip of the iceberg. Here’s hoping that Honda’s campaign team has access to social media monitoring tools from Radian6 or TrackUr and have activated their BackType Alerts to keep a clear overview.

All in all, in terms of buzz and people interacting with the page this is no bad example of content integration at all, it’s just a shame there’s no apparent follow-up or integration in, say, a 360˚campaign for maximum effect.

Now of course at this very moment we have no idea what Honda’s campaign objective was in the first place: It could be a proof of concept, trying it out for a small fee, with little risk, before scaling it up on YouTube allowing the numbers game to come into play, leading to massive exposure and off course more ways for the community and consumers/prospects to interact with the brand.

As I’m a firm believer in the merits of content-integration instead of plain display bannering, for me personally it will be very interesting to see how this plays out and if Honda will release an evaluation on their company blog or industry titles like Ad Age or ReadWriteWeb.





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Why the Click Is the Right Metric for Online Ads (On Adding Value and Thinking Beyond the Display Advertising Business Model)

“…many advertisers in the past gave most of the credit for a sale or conversion — which in the web world could include anything from visiting a website to printing an online coupon — to the last ad clicked on or seen by a consumer. But that means brand-focused sites such as NYTimes.com and MarthaStewart.com and even social-media sites such as Facebook and MySpace lose credit because they are often not where a consumer will see that last ad. And when they lose credit, they lose advertisers, and when they lose ad revenue, well, you’ve read that story.

“Publishers have a lot to gain,” said Steve Kerho, VP-analytics, media and marketing optimization at Organic. Mr. Kerho has been doing lots of analysis on how online-display ads affect search and conversions and found that in some cases, a display ad can increase a search ad’s click-through rate 25% to 30%. If he had simply measured the clicks from search, he would have missed the display ads’ influence.”

Source: Adage

So… If we’d translate the above model to, say, a real world situation; that’d mean that the sales guy in the local electronics store should get a piece of the provision pie, and maybe you’re neighbourhood whiz kid should be offered a small fee too, since they were the ones that influenced you before you decided to shell out on a new bleeding-edge desktop and order it directly by mail-order, no?

Of course, the conclusion presented above is preposterous to say the least. Not giving full credit to the last click shows a lack of common sense and of everyday reality:

If we’d were to apply this model to the offline advertising industry we’d might as well start charging less for TV ads during the Super Bowl or advertisements in general, since it has never been empirically proven that said ads actually sell significantly more cars, to name but an example.

(Actually I hereby challenge thee naysayers to tell me why the fledgling automotive industry in the US can’t be saved by throwing more money against Interruption Campaigns now that the going is though… Odds are it’s because it just doesn’t work that way nowadays…)

Publishers would of course love to use such a model, since suddenly those abysmally low Click Through Rates on social networks ´d become a license to print money, yet that’s not where the problem lies: it’s about engaging with the visitors of the Facebook’s of this world if and when they feel like it, adding value to the community, giving them something to talk about or a good reason to get rid of their friends. The engagement model is a far more viable one since it makes it very clear for all stakeholders what the true value of those brand interactions are for everyone.

Conjuring op schemes to charge more for a product -display banner- that, on it’s own, has failed to truly deliver on its promise up until this very moment, is not the way forward out of this recession. The research budget would be well better spent on innovation, adding value to the visitors, strategic alliances -you name it, just do not waste it on taking undercover pot-shots at “Go -Emperor CPC- Gle” et all.

There is one thing that does ring true about the statement that a conversion shouldn’t be attributed to just the Last Click alone; and that’s the reoccurring coincidence that carefully crafted, creative Crossmedia campaigns drive word-of-mouth & website traffic, allowing for a tighter control on conversion, ánd they also have the uncanny ability to tip the Attitude scale in your Brands’ favour. A little…

It’s common sense and it’s what marketing should be all about: influencing as many factors as you can to get the prospect to turn into a consumer, making her loyal, spurring her on to buy more and in the end becoming a brand-ambassador.

The communication mix as well as the quality of your product combined with the customer centricity level of your organization all contribute to that end.

As well as a million other tiny factors (does the sun shine, did THAT girl on the train give you a smile, do you have enough money to spare, etc., etc..)

Yet, if we’d follow the philosophy of Mr. Kerho to it’s conclusion, it’d mean we’d have to split the Cost-per-Click revenue and spread the wealth over all communication channels and creatives -and not just the display banner- in order to get a somewhat “fairer” representation of value/conversion for money.

[The Adage article starts with this quote: “The great paradox of the web is that it’s an interactive medium and everything can be measured. And that’s wonderful — unless you’re measuring the wrong thing.”

I’d think what they should be stating is: The single greatest asset of the web is that it’s an interactive medium, perpetuously capable of reinventing itself. And that’s wonderful — Unless you don’t keep your feet firmly on the ground and try to look at opportunities with a positive mindset!]





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2009: Service Design, Privacy and The Cloud?

The slide -embedded below– is a comprehensive-yet-easy-digestible presentation, sensibly touching upon The Cloud, the hype and misconceptions surrounding it, and the biggest issue the Tech industry will face in 2009: Privacy.

“The Biggest Issue the Tech Industry will face in Two-Oh-Nine is Privacy.”

Nat Torkington from O’Reilly Radar has rounded up a whopping 191 slides on the Future of the Cloud and how this ties together with our online privacy; food for thought as we approach enter The Year of Change

[Note: Expand the presentation to full-screen so you can read the accompanying notes]

As Social Media reached its Tipping Point in 2008 (judging by the Web 2.0 supercharged, grass-roots powered, landslide victory of Obama in the US Presidential Elections, and the explosive growth of Facebook) claiming that Twitter and RSS feeds will break into the Non-Digerati mainstream in 2009 doesn’t seem to be a farfetched forecast for the New Year -at first sight.

Some other predictions: 2009 will be remembered as The Year Of Privacy, Authenticity, Relevancy (in Marketing), Personal Branding & Change Management. Invoking Trust and investing in Innovation will also be two key cornerstones and challenges on which businesses will have to focus in the coming twelve months. WIRED has an interesting post, zooming in on Six Tech Trends.

Yet, as Seth Godin rightfully points out in one of many brilliant posts this month, backed by the outbreak of the Subprime– & Credit Crunch and the Financial Crisis between August 2007 & September 2008 and the ensuing events; long-term predictions tend to fall flat on their face. Often. And in a very ugly matter actually.

[If you’ve always wondered how any non-gamer/marketer could have fallen eyes wide shut in the Farce that Second Life inevitably turned out to be (even though it was fairly obvious to gamers that it had “FAIL” written all over its face), see the video directly below.
It perfectly communicates what definitely won’t be happening in 2009 or what has obviously already come to pass in the past years, all presented by a “Trend Watcher” preaching otherwise.]

Trends FADS In 2009

Now if there’s one thing -the outcome of- the Obama ’08 Campaign strategy should have proven to Old School Marketers and Agencies, it’s that releasing control over your brand is actually a good thing and even if this casus doesn’t convince them, the word on the streets is that The Crowds seized this “control” ages ago.

Another fact that should have become crystal clear to even the most obstinate of naysayers, is that in 2009, traditional advertising agencies -and newspapers- will have to either sink or swim in order to survive the Interactive Marketing Tidal Wave: The days of the Mass-Media-Interruption-Marketing-Only approach for immeasurable branding purposes are over, as are the days of unaccountability and vaunted effectiveness of artistic-award-winning-yet-incomprehensible advertisements.

In its place we’ll welcome Neo Marketing [jpeg, 69.75 KB (71428 bytes)]

Neo Marketing = Permission Based Marketing, meaning that we’ll only approach people, humans, individuals -and not “target audiences”- with relevant conversations if and when they see fit; taking in their feedback directly, treating it with respect and giving it some order of priority, all the while keeping a sharp eye on Conversion Rates or Task Completion Rates by Primary Purpose, when speaking of the web specifically. Very transparent, results-driven and opt-in actually ;)

Utilizing Neo Marketing is the most effective, consumer-centric way of building and retaining your business/brand in this day and age. A sound investment by any measure.

“Sending one-size-fits-all messages using mass media, as 20th century marketing bibles and preachers would encourage and even declare as The Truth, has now definitely and officially become an unaffordable waste of precious resources, time, effort and money. Time to move on.”

Note: Branding won’t become obsolete any time soon, it’ll actually become a much stronger focus in your communication plan with one key-value to communicate: Trust.

So, the corporation has taken a step down from its pedestal, in order for the consumer to be seated on her rightful throne: Thus the internal process (the rules behind which mediocre employees tend to try to hide behind when running from responsibility) or technical system setbacks –“IT department doesn’t allow me to help you out with this problem, even though you’re not the first client facing it and it’s pretty obvious that we’re the cause”– shall no longer be the driving- or leading force behind the way we operate our company or engage with our customers.

Instead servicing the end-consu -serving people shall become the core mindset around which the constellation of your organization shall revolve, as it always should have been the main focus of your Service Strategy.

Some more knowledgeable professionals say some of the developments sketched above will be powered and spurred on by the rise of Enterprise 2.0 (Yup, I’m aware of the “Yet Another Two-Point-Oh Suffix”), and the global economic downturn shall see to it that such (r)evolutionary innovations will come to fruition in the coming year, requiring some serious change-management skills (but also a change of culture and heart for our friends from the “Behind-The-Company-Firewall-Within-The-Current-Software-Platform” IT department, putting the employees needs first in its stead).

[Side note to all skeptics- (“But you lack data backing this thesis”) and pessimistic- or conservative detractors out there questioning the coming fall of the current Corporate/Advertising Status Quo:

Please do bear in mind that the Financial Armageddon of 2008 was impossible to foresee by even the savviest and clued up of Economical Analysts anywhere in the world.
Also try to remember that the concepts of Democracy, Freedom and Individualism as we know them today, didn’t exist once/not too long ago either, yet they’ve become more widespread than any medieval Feudalist could have ever feared, the 44th President of The Free World being the crown jewel supporting this thesis reality. And so on, and so on…]

Furthermore, results-driven Contextual Marketing (powered by the Semantic Web) and data backed analyses shall give us unprecedented REAL and actionable insights into customer behavior (only with their consent!) & their TRUE wants, allowing for even better segmentation and targeting.
Social Networks will further position and consolidate themselves as the new market place where we can meet up, connect with, and empower our customers and prospects, hopefully turning them into brand ambassadors. But only when THEY see fit; it’s their territory after all, see.

This year, the challenge for your organization lies in trying to be available for your consumers and prospects whenever and wherever they feel like reaching out to you, or:

“In 2009 Brands need to become truly ubiquitous in their interactions with consumers”

Brands need to become truly ubiquitous: If prospects or clients wish to ask you a customer support question via Twitter or show their brand loyalty by joining your Facebook Group; then please, by all means, let them have it :)
And if there’s a heated debate on a forum about your product, service or your brand in general; don’t hesitate to join in (Think Vodafone‘s WebCare Team). Social Media Tracking tools like Trackur can help you, giving you a dashboard on what the latest talk in e-town is concerning your brand.

To be able to do so, you’ll have to learn to actively participate and interact in those spaces first.

[UPDATE: The Air Force has updated their Social Media Diagram]

Air Force Blog Assessment

Just as “doing a Brand Activation” through TV and Radio in conjunction with print has become the holy trinity for Fortune 500 advertisers in the second half of the 20th century, the post-modern marketer should let go of The Fear of losing control or actually becoming -God forbid- Accountable and add the online platform and all of its interactive channels in the mix as well.

Conclusion: The internet shouldn’t be treated as just another pillar in the marketing mix; it’s a whole New World of communication opportunities next to the Offline world.


The Break Up

We must try harder to convince our peers, decision makers and conservative marketers that the only other option is to face losing out to the competition; remember this crisis is a catalyst for a long overdue change in not only marketing but business acumen as well.

All in all it won’t be an easy ride though: In the end, if your product or service doesn’t manage to live up to your story, then your organization and all of its stakeholders -CEO, shareholders and employees alike- will have to deal with the harsh consequences, now more than ever.

In the coming months, (enterprise sized) brands will have to show their human face to invoke trust and through this process the Personal Brand will have its mainstream breakthrough.

Employers will have to find a way to somehow incorporate this into their Marketing Strategy fast, as their Corporate Brand, as well as their Employer Brand, will benefit from this -if handled in an authentic way: Forrester Sr. Analyst Jeremiah Owyang has a post touching on Personal Branding vs. Corporate Policies, as always carefully and thoroughly approaching it from different perspectives.

And all the above somehow, mostly ties in to that omnipresent “Privacy Issue” that we’ve got to take into account as well, bringing us full-circle to this excellent presentation by Nathan.

Happy New Year  :)


[Update 13-01-09: link to NYTimes.com & US Air Force Blog Diagram v2]





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