Monthly Archives: December 2009

Looking around the corner at 2010

 4ScreensMedia is about Customer Relationship Management and how the Internet, Television and Mobile technology can be leveraged to enhance the customer experience across the entire spectrum of brand touchpoints. Here are 12 developments that may play out in 2010.

If a tree falls in the forest, we can now hear it.

1. Customer Relationship Management will incorporate social media – the customer’s channel – and become integral to the  Marketing Mix. Like the self-serve kiosk, more business processes will be outsourced to customers as a result.

2. The CIO will play a key role  in implementing enterprise social media platforms as technology & process serve to enable campaign execution.

3. Google will provide the cheapest and most used social media monitoring platform; like the long distance telco market, the service will be priced at or close to $0.00.

4. Management consultants will take their rightful place in provide social media guidance and integrate into CRM. They will design workable business processes, provide sound methodology and standards. Accountability will be more important than ROI. ROI metrics will draw from existing marketing mix to include CLV – Customer Lifetime Value at the aggregate level.

5. More social media monitoring companies will go out of business than will be acquired – the industry will segment into pure technology plays vs. value added business insight using white-label monitoring services. Some SMM companies will merge with marketing analytics providers. The most business value will be provided by SMM companies that specialize in industry verticals, sentiment analysis and human interpretation.

6.  Proprietary monitoring capabilities will become the purvue of the largest Forbes Global 2000 firms and provide the best business applications such as integration with business analytics. This will dovetail into the creation of private label media networks and brand communities.

7. Mobile technology will have a dual thrust.  Fast growth in terms of user adoption rates and new functionality that enhances the customer experience.  Mobile apps will enable tighter customer relationships, reduce costs via self-service and provide more data about customer behaviour. Cloud computing will enable the data center to be accessed remotely further enhancing work station flexibily especially for mobile professionals in a global economy.

8. Predictive analytics and business intelligence will be the game changer – the Internet will be treated like a big data warehouse. Insight into consumer buying outcomes will be at the heart of this computing technology domain.

9. Location intelligence applications combined with data visualization and user information will become key elements in the business operations arsenal.  Any business where geospatial location matters – transportation, retail, health, policing, municipal services – will take a great interest in these applications.

10. Social networks in general will not be profitable or be close to break even but overvalued by the markets. They will also be seriously compromised by identity theft, fraud, spam and security breaches.

11. Marketing research companies will finally understand that billions of consumer-generated comments related to the brand experience are worth incorporating into traditional research methods. All major players will align with or have their own monitoring or business intelligence capability.

12. Television will be the most watched, most influencial medium in America. Google will have a strategy to buy a network. TV will see a resurgence on many fronts, most notably advertising.

Let’s check back in December 2010.

– Ted Morris

Manage The Experience – Control Your Brand

There’s been an awful lot of talk lately about  ‘social media’  and how brands are no longer in control. It’s now all in the hands of the consumer. What strikes me about this kind of thinking is that it’s never actually been proven, using solid data, valid business cases or testimonial by a company or brand that has fallen victim to the rise in consumer control.  

Hell hath no fury like a consumer scorned

Ok, so your first push back might be “What about the Jeff Jarvis Dell Hell”? or “What about David Carroll?”  He’s the travelling troubadour who suffered at the hands of United Airlines who allegedly damaged his guitar then lost his luggage. In both cases, the offending brands were mercilessly flagellated online  as the bad news spread like wildfire through dry sagebrush. Dell and United were either unable to plug the gaping hole in their corporate reputation or stood by with an air of utter indifference. The viral vituperative spread across the socialsphere and consumers were vindicated in (almost) real time. “The Man” was taken down.

"I am now in control here..."

So was this all about consumers being in control? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that social media is one of the best things to happen to consumers in providing a channel for consumers to voice opinions about their brand experience good or bad. No, in that brands still have ample oppportunity to do deliver on the brand promise. What this means is exactly that – deliver on what the consumer is promised regarding product performance, service quality and social responsibility.  Stand by your value proposition and make sure that your company is always firing on all cylinders across every customer touchpoint. Consistently manage all customer-facing processes and drive the use of customer information about preferences, contact protocols  and wants & needs across the enterprise. Make sure employees are enabled, trained and supported to delivery the very best, on demand.

Manage your company. Control your brand.

ESOMAR & Social Media: Brandmatters 2006 revisited


Although I did not have occasion to attend the recent 2009 ESOMAR conference in Chicago, I was struck by fact that the agenda was essential devoted entirely to social media. By contrast, Brandmatters 2006 had one session on social media, referred to as “Social Networks and Brand Communities”, a subset of the broader Internet ecosystem.

At that time, I was in the fortunate or perhaps unfortunate position of presenting “Listening to the Blogosphere: How Blogging can Impact Your Brand”. Fortunate in that I was probably regarded as part of a small group of pionners or forward thinkers (lunatic fringe?) on the subject of WOM: Word-of-Mouth media; unfortunate in that much of what I presented seemed to be something of an oddity to much of the audience. Here were some observations at the time:

> 10% of US adults created blogs; 32 mil. Americans read blogs;
> 12% of consumers posted content online
> many ‘bloggers’ has formed brand communities, notably in the automotive and entertainment industry verticals
> many bloggers were considered influencial in shaping a brand’s reputation

...and now.

Fast forward as we move into 2010: It’s most gratifying to see that Social Media is dominatingdiscussion within the marketing research industry.  Much of the thinking has expanded beyond mere curiosity toward shaping opportunity and providing increased business value to clients in a forward looking way. It was to the point that awards for building online communities have become the new hallmark for forward thinking marketing research.

It goes without saying that the numbers presented above would appear to be a mere speck of online activity given today’s dominance of applications such as Facebook, Twitter and You Tube, not to mention the hundreds of millions of blogs and forums that contain brand content.

Glad the world has changed so much. I was feeling a bit ahead of myself.
– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

Social is Priceless | Social Networks T.B.D.

The Guardian recently ran Facebook now has 350M users – and there’s no point in advertising to them. The story serves as a nice reality check for those in the Social Media ‘business’.

There is no doubt that by the measure of registered users (fans, members), many of these services have been wildly successful within a very short period of time: Bebo, Twitter and LinkedIn have around 50M users.  MySpace has something like 80M users and Facebook now claims over 350M registrants, a large number by any stretch, namely that it exceeds the population of the United States. This is all without even counting site visitations as tallied by a firm like comScore. Astounding numbers? Absolutely.

But here’s the big jolt: these services generate very little revenue or profit, command bubble-like valuations and have yet to prove that they are a viable advertising medium. Some examples cited by The Guardian underscore this point (numbers are approximate as some firms are private and/or in constant flux):

  • Facebook is valued at about $10B on revenue of $500M est. for 2009
  • Twitter has no tangible revenue, is valued at $1B;  just raised $100M
  • LinkedIn is generating revenue, how much is unclear; profit elusive

Then perhaps there’s a bit of buyer’s remorse:

  • Time Warner’s 2008 purchase of Bebo for $850M w/multiple of 48.5 x earnings
  • News Corporation’s purchase of MySpace for $580M in 2005; growth in a stall

Social Networks, as much as they have gained mainstream popularity, are still seeking to monetize their services. While companies such as LinkedIn have developed fee-based premium options to customers, most are still in the ‘freemium’ category. In the hope of attracting paying customers, free is the common denominator when it comes to the price charged for most social networking services — the digital version of “Field of Dreams” in a way. During their next growth stage, moving up the value chain will be a major challenge for many of these companies.

Investors no doubt, will become a  bit edgy, as they are prone to be, when the cost of capital gets a little out of  the comfort zone. A major question that might be heard in the boardrooms a bit more often over the next year just might be: “How are we going to get customers to pay?”

– Ted Morris 4ScreensMedia


Digital Dumping: It’s Time for Real Accountability

[Note: This guest post was originally featured in the ACA (Association of Canadian Advertisers) newsletter “Driving Marketing Success”. Reprinted by permission.]

Talk with anyone about what’s important for advertisers on the net, and after the obligatory deference to social media the conversation quickly turns to something more familiar, something marketers feel comfortable with: tried-and-true video.

When this recession hit last year, we all wondered what media would be hit the hardest. TV? Newspapers? What we didn’t wonder is what would be hit the least. That surely would be the Internet. Online spending for sure would be spared the axe, and in fact, if any medium could show growth during a recession it most likely would be online.

It didn’t happen, though. eMarketer reported recently that total online spending in the U.S. (Canadian figures were not available) will be down 2.9% for 2009. But have a look specifically at online video. It is the bright spot with a projected growth rate for 2009 of – wait for it – 43%! In a recessionary year. And here’s the kicker: eMarketer projects that online video will have roughly 40% growth rates each year for the next five years.

Add to this a New York Times report that online news is attracting $50 per thousand viewers for video pre-rolls, and a recent Advertising Age report that consumer packaged goods have embraced online video, and you have to conclude that something big is happening here.

There seems to be a certain pent-up demand for video on the net, and all indications are that it is going to manifest big next year. Which begs a pretty important question, and one that marketers always get around to asking when substantial investments begin to accumulate: how do I know if I am getting what I paid for?

ACA members attending our recent New Media Committee meeting got a glimpse into this future, listening to a presentation by Anthony Rushton, Director of Telemetry plc of London, UK, on online video verification. Telemetry is a new entrant into the online infrastructure which provides a service for clients with a very important difference: independent, secure verification that ads were run.

Not to pick on Google, but don’t they actually own DoubleClick, the ad server they use? Where’s the incentive for them to apply rigorous due diligence? How do advertisers know they are getting exactly what they have ordered and paid for? By taking their word? That might have been okay for an industry in its infancy, but it’s not okay for a mature business.

Telemetry showed us screen captures from publishers that were running five small video ads on the same page, buried 10 pages down in the site, in order to fulfill their contract count. Did it ever come up in the sales negotiations that you would be sharing the screen with four other video advertisers at the same time!? I didn’t think so.

It’s been a long, long time since newspapers were accused of printing extra copies in order to get larger circulation figures to boost the price they could charge advertisers – and then dumping many of those copies in the alley.

But it looks like circulation dumping is alive and well and living in some of the digital alleyways of the Internet. Telemetry is careful to point out that not everyone is doing this, but it is happening out there. Campaign discrepancies can run as high as 30%, they point out.

That is just plain unacceptable.

– Bob Reaume
– Vice President, Policy & Research

Get access to Telemetry and other leading-edge thinkers in the field through the ACA’s new media committee.

Bob Reaume Bob Reaume’s 35-year career in advertising began in media at Ronalds-Reynolds Advertising in Toronto. Bob oversees the research required to support ACA’s many projects, especially those related to media. He also plays a pivotal role in supporting and developing various initiatives undertaken by ACA’s New Media, Broadcast and Print & Out-of-Home committees.

Branding: Accenture & Tiger Woods Redux

This ad for Accenture featuring Tiger Woods re-appeared a month ago in a story about endorsements.  A few things came to mind.

As a golfer, I have often found myself facing a test similar to the one Tiger Woods is pictured facing here. In Tiger’s case, given the level at which he performs at the game of golf, this particular problem is usually solved. No need to mention what the likely outcome would have been in my case, other than picking up my ball and taking a penalty stroke.

The other idea that came to mind is that some challenges can be addressed using a number of options. In golf, much of the solution is based on calculated risk relative to reward. ‘Calculated’ is the operative since skill set and environmental factors play into the range of outcomes.

In the context of branding, what if you’re an advertiser that has heavily banked on a star, especially one that is the ultimate embodiment of what the brand stands for? Accenture is a company that is about High Performance. Delivered. It is a company with over 170,000 employees worldwide that provides professional services to some of the world’s largest and most successful companies. Accenture hires the best talent it can find. Tiger Woods is the best and the most talented of our age.  A perfect and risk-free fit in terms of co-branding Tiger Woods Inc. and Accenture.

In the broader context of advertising and marketing, for Accenture to contemplate the wisdom of having aligned with the Tiger Woods brand is irrelevant. In fact, it was a very astute decision, one that has enhanced the profile of Accenture globally.

The real issue is how those who are emotionally vested in these two brands will manage going forward. It’s a true test of character when we are faced with circumstances that test our ethics, morality and beliefs in ways that were previously unforseen.

As it turns out, Accenture has experience little material damage compared to Tiger Woods’ sponsors. Collectively, Nike, AT&T, Tag Heuer and the like have thus far suffered stock market capitalization losses in the order of $12B, excluding foregone sales. Accenture on the other hand, has been impacted by a massive opportunity cost, likely with little or no damage to business or reputation vis-a-vis its customers.

Both parties however are facing different futures, one that is clearly uncertain at this point by virtue of his absence from the world stage.  The other is ready to march on in the true, stoic spirit of the management consultancy, like Jack Nicklaus in a way.

“It’s what you do next” rings so very truly.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia