2013: Shifts In Marketing

March 25, 2013

What excites you most about the world of marketing right now? What three main challenges will preoccupy marketers in 2013? Is there an elephant in the room–an issue, idea, or opportunity to which marketers aren’t giving adequate attention?

These questions were posed to a broad range of respondents, including Adobe CMO Ann Lewnes (Adobe is CMO.com’s corporate parent). Also included: Ryan Caplan, CEO, ColdLight; Emily Hare, Managing Editor, Contagious; Courtney Larned, Vice President, Marketing and Communications, Lifedash, Inc.; Charlotte McEleny, Associate Editor, 12Ahead; Jeremy Merle, Chief Experience Officer, Fancred; Ruth Mortimer, Editor, Marketing Week; David Moth, Senior Reporter, Econsultancy; Steve Riggins, CMO, Water For People; Gordon Young, Editor, The Drum.

Here are their answers.

What’s the one thing that excites you most about the world of marketing right now?

Taylor: For me specifically, it’s the creation of content, specifically video content, that is not merely a SEO-driven exercise. We’re starting to tell the brand story more and use content to engage consumers, create community and drive loyalty. Yes, this drives traffic but content can’t get away with being merely keyword-stuffed and useless anymore. And how can we make it better and more relevant? Through data analysis. YouTube’s video analytics showing minutes watched and audience retention can allow me to make better and better content and I didn’t have that kind of information until the last year or so.

Mortimer: There are so many options for marketers. You can run a TV campaign and then amplify it with social media and live events in a way that simply wouldn’t have been possible even five years ago. Or you can start a groundswell on Facebook, gain traction for the idea and build up a community of buyers for your brand pre-launch with very little investment. There have never been so many marketing channels alongside the potential to gain insight into customers.

Hare: The potential that technology has given businesses to adapt how they operate and to serve their customers better. This creates a wealth of opportunities – for example, we’ve seen brilliant projects recently of brands acting as educators, ecologists, technology incubators and even conducting space missions.

McEleny: It’s probably a trend we’re excited about that we’ve called singularity. The idea that products are becoming more connected, providing a feedback loop to manufacturers and becoming more intelligent. In short, products are becoming an extension of the web and people themselves. The data and creative opportunities are exciting.

Young: In a word–‘convergence.’ We are not only seeing convergence between traditional marketing disciplines such as advertising, design and digital–but now convergence between industries too. There is increasing overlap in areas such as media, retail and music. With increasing connectivity between gadgets–such as smartphones, cars and domestic appliances–and the emergence of 3D printing, this trend will accelerate.

Moth: One of the most exciting things about the digital marketing industry is the fact that things are always changing, so what was an accepted practice one week can seem out-dated the next. Certain brands and agencies are constantly trying to innovate and find new ways of communicating with their customers, which is obviously extremely useful for reporters as it means there are constantly new and exciting things to write about.

Caplan: The convergence of big data, analytics and personalization are finally ready for prime time. I think we will finally start to see truly more effective and engaging marketing programs can reach the right audience, with the right message, at the right time, in a way that has never been possible before on such a large scale.

Merle: Three words: second screen value. With the explosive growth and ubiquitous use of mobile devices, what excites me most is the opportunity to create an app experience that truly empowers active participation in televised media. It’s about creating a deeper relationship with your audience by providing connections to their multiple realities.

Larned: It’s hard to choose one. I am probably most excited about the access to cutting-edge tools that allow us to automate processes, and control content development and delivery. I just attended the TAP! Conference and am so excited about what I can get done with Adobe’s Digital Publishing Suite (DPS).

Riggins: The world of marketing has moved to a place where authenticity and doing good work matters. Audiences have become savvy and they are careful with what brands they align themselves with. This is forcing marketers to go deeper into their brands and break things for the better, moving away from old tactics. This audience can tell when they’re being scammed.

Lewnes: Without question, it’s the shift to digital and how marketing has become more data-driven and even more creative. With the measurement and analytics tools at our disposal, marketers can infuse science with marketing’s traditional creativity. As such, we’ve never been in a better position to measure the impact of our work and have an impact on our business. From a creative standpoint, there’s so much more room for great, creative ideas. A campaign that used to be limited to commercials or a print ad can include so many other facets: social media, online videos, personalized content and more. It’s a very exciting time to be in marketing.

Based on your recent discussions with marketers what are the three main things that will preoccupy them in 2013?

Taylor: Everyone is obsessed with mobile and tablets and how these devices will change consumer behavior. It’s already happening and will continue to change through more global adoption. Smart data is another one: how to take big data and make it useful. I think marketers will really be keeping an eye on the big players. Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc. keep trying to edge each other out of the game (despite what they say) and with every change they make, marketers will also have to shift their strategy. No one wants to back a dead horse.

Mortimer: There are three big challenges for 2013 around data. First, marketers tell me they are trying to understand how ‘big data’ – all the information available from so many different channels and sources – will impact their business. Can and should they integrate social data with transactional data, for example? Second, in a world where there is so much more data available, what are consumer expectations of privacy? Do people really want to link their supermarket loyalty cards with their bank accounts Facebook pages? What is ‘being useful’ and what is intrusive? And third, what impact will new legislations such as the draft EU data law have on how brands operate?

Hare: Discussions around dealing with data, ensuring that it is used effectively to generate insights and aid understanding were common in 2012 and will continue to be relevant this year. Advertising agencies will attempt to find new ways to generate alternative revenue streams and opportunities, teaming up with start-ups, launching products and creating content, for example. Nielsen’s Global, Socially Conscious Consumer Report stated that 66% of people around the world prefer to buy from companies that have implemented programs to give back to society. With this in mind, brands and marketers will need to continue to consider and articulate the value that their product or service contributes to the wider world.

McEleny: Data (humanizing and realizing the valuable and creative opportunities it presents), mobile (not much to add there) and although integration has been an issue for ages, it’s now a case of not creating a digital strategy but having a strategy for what is now a digital world because nearly everything is connected.

Young: Mobile will continue to grow and develop – Google reckons mobile search will outstrip desktop for the first time. The retail sector will continue its struggle to redefine itself in the face of more business going online. The strong players and strong retail centers will continue to get stronger, while the weaker ones will continue to get weaker! The economy – lack of growth will continue to shape marketing strategies.

Moth: In no particular order:

1. Mobile: I attend a lot of conferences and the number of marketers I meet who are still trying to come up with a mobile strategy always surprises me.

2. Attribution: Trying to work out which digital channels are most important for your business and the exact ROI is a huge challenge for marketers.

3. Resources: Most marketers know what they need to do to improve their company’s brand exposure and attract more customers, but struggle to convince the powers that be to provide them the necessary budget and manpower.

Caplan: First, exploring how to better align our messaging so that our offering is ‘consumable’ by aligning the right audience with the right message. Second, increasing the outreach channels to our customers using social media as a more effective thought leadership platform. Third, microsegmentation of our target audience.

Merle: As an early stage startup, the overarching marketing focus is driving engagement in meaningful, measurable ways. Top priorities include:

1. Building relationships with evangelists to create an authentic user base with high quality content.

2. Creating a delightful and addictive user experience.

3. Gaining a deep understanding of customer behavior, needs and desires.

Larned: We are laser-focused on enhancing experiences for our audiences through responsive design, and by building quality, relevant content for our sites, applications, and other user experiences. And of course, building our user base on all of our apps.

Riggins: Brand awareness: Water For People does incredible work in the world, but has not done the best job telling its story. This will be our year to change that. Tribe building: We want to start a movement that changes the world, and we can’t do it alone. We’re cultivating a tribe of champions who believes in us and wants to share their voice. Simplify: Our world can become incredibly techie. We’re simplifying our message to unify our brand and appeal to a broader audience.

Lewnes: Our first priority remains promoting our brand and fostering a better understanding of Adobe’s position as the creative and digital marketing company. Second is to raise the bar in what we call “marketing by-the-numbers” – mastering how we use data to market more efficiently and effectively. Where we used to measure only basic things like impressions, we’ve become so much more sophisticated. In fact, for a recent campaign at Adobe we took a look at everything from engagement to conversion – and taking it a step further – were able attribute these metrics to a given marketing channel. It’s given us an incredibly detailed view into how our campaigns are performing and how they can be improved. Hand in hand with this is the idea of “data transparency.” For this same campaign we published the key marketing results for all to see – thereby showing first-hand how powerful and transparent data-driven marketing has become. Our third big priority will be to invest even more effort in social media as a way to engage with our community.

Do you feel there is an elephant in the room in 2013 – an issue, idea, or opportunity to which marketers simply aren’t giving adequate attention?

Taylor: Integration. I still think we’re talking in our own circles and no department should be an afterthought. Consumers judge you on whatever their first touch point is. If your store is great and your mobile app is crap, you lose. There could be great campaigns that span all spaces, creating an interactive and multiplatform experience that could really engage people, but it rarely happens especially with the incorporation of video – not cheesy advertisements but real stories. Once someone gets it right, we’ll see a huge shift.

Mortimer: I think marketers talk a lot about how important it is to be taken seriously by the board, but they often are not. Changing the perception of marketing is still a massive issue for the whole profession. Marketing is often seen as a cost or overhead by chief executives and chief finance officers and marketers don’t have the financial skills and clout to convince senior executives that it is actually a revenue generating function. Do people really want to link their supermarket loyalty cards with their bank accounts Facebook pages?

Hare: Plenty–connected products, instantaneous communications services such as Snapchat and health services and applications are all becoming increasingly important. We’ll be covering these kinds of opportunities, trends and ideas in upcoming issues of Contagious over the next year.

McEleny: I think there is an opportunity to find a sweet spot between all the intelligence and data we now have at our fingertips and applying more emotional, human ideas and themes to make some truly creative work. There’s currently a disconnect and the convergence of physical and digital will only help bring it together in 2013 (I recently wrote a bit of a longer piece on this earlier this month–cheeky plug.

Young: I believe many industries continue to look at the digital landscape through the wrong end of the telescope. They tend to define the future based on their current business models and past experiences. They underestimate just how much and how quickly the economy is being revolutionized. Digital has the power to redefine civilization as whole!

Moth: In my opinion, the trends that were important last year (e.g. social, mobile and customer experience) are the same ones that brands need to make sure they are focusing on and getting right in 2013. There are so many people trying to sell new tools and ideas that the challenge for marketers is trying to work out which ones they should ignore so they can focus on what already works for their business.

Caplan: I believe Big Data is a buzz word that is misunderstood by marketers that are drinking the KoolAid, thinking that Big Data is the answer to a marketing question instead of an asset that, if mined appropriately, might be useful to marketers. I think that Big Data is getting too much attention,  but the wrong kind.

Merle: With the power of an all-access pass to 24/7 media and vast user generated content, comes an enormous responsibility – providing credible information. At Fancred, we’re building our business on the foundation that credible information far outweighs excessive noise and unreliable sources. Consumers choose where they get their information and I think we can expect to see a shift towards a desire for more accountability.

Larned: Maybe not an elephant in the room, but the lightning speed of the mobile market’s evolution has created the need to swiftly adapt strategy to effectively reach our current audience, as well as those who become our audience because of mobile. It’s just an enormous challenge to be nimble and agile enough to keep up.

Riggins: Everyone is talking about social media but few have really figured it out how to use it correctly. I’m not afraid to admit we have done a poor job of it in the past. There is no magic bullet, all the social media in the world can’t fix a poor marketing strategy.

Lewnes: Despite all the attention and investment we’ve started to see in digital marketing, I believe marketers have yet to truly break through. We’ve really just begun to scratch the surface of what’s possible. Offering customers relevant content, delivering experiences that are engaging instead of intrusive and improving how we measure our work–once we master these things I think we’ll begin to capitalize on the opportunities ahead of us in digital. We’re making progress, but I don’t think we’re there yet. We’re not moving quickly enough. This idea was the basis of a new campaign Adobe just launched, targeted at marketers. The premise is that marketing is still plagued by long-standing myths–you can’t prove advertising works, big data is a big pain, marketing is a cost center, not a revenue driver–and turning these myths on their head. The truth is, marketers have the tools at their disposal today to really break through and elevate the importance and strategic value of marketing to business. It’s not going to be easy, but it can be done.

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