Tag Archives: Owned Platforms

The Digital & Social Era: Unlocking Brand Value in a Nanosecond

 

Monopoly, Scrabble, Mr. Potato Head, G.I. Joe, Nerf, Little Pony, Transformers.  These are only a few of the brands we are all growing old with, and are also seeing our children grow up with. They are all household names that have an extensive legacy and franchise around the world. They’re all Hasbro brands.

While many brand managers often think of extending a brand in terms of new product in the physical sense, the digital and social era offers the opportunity to transform brands into new media properties in ways that unlock the brand’s legacy. The age of new media offers up the chance to pull brands literally “out of the vault” and make them fresh again by relaunching them in an entirely new format.

Hasbro is a company that not only manufactures and distributes toys and games; it is an entertainment company that now competes with the likes of Disney. For example, one of the largest and most successful movie franchises is Transformers. Introduced in the mid-1980s, Transformers was a toy line that featured parts that can be shifted to change from a vehicle into a robot action figure and back again. A number of spin-offs followed, including an animated television series.

In 2007, a live-action movie, under sponsorship of Steven Spielberg, was released, with the latest installment to be released this summer. Around the brand is a vast array of media, including video games, a website, online games, TV commercials, a Facebook community, books, gear and all sorts of toys. Yes, there are apps for iPhone – in 3D no less – that include puzzles.

Not only has Hasbro become a force in the movie industry, it also is a direct investor in television having recently launched The Hub channel in the U.S. in partnership with Discovery Channel whereby the Discovery Kids platform was renamed The Hub. In Canada, Corus Entertainment and Hasbro Studios have come together to distribute Hasbro brands across the various Corus kids television platforms, such as Treehouse, the TV home of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (with HD episodes available on iTunes).

What makes the discussion even more compelling is how Hasbro has been able to artfully blend instinct with formal management process. I say this because the toy business, like fashion, has for many years been built on having a nose for what’s hot and what’s not. In the age of digital, so much is in the moment that risk and reward take on much shorter cycles, thereby requiring a balance between management discipline and entrepreneurial behaviour. As Michael Hogg, President of Hasbro Canada, says: “The toy business is like packaged goods with your hair on fire,” in that much of the action is in the moment, about today. This makes me think of the phrase Carpe Diem – on steroids.

Underlying this “360 degree” approach to defining the media mix is the foundational belief that there is also a value chain with regard to the media platforms. In Hasbro’s case, TV is the anchor to build brand awareness in key segments, whereby other media take on a supporting promotional role to augment consumer engagement.

In the days of traditional media, there was much talk about unlocking ‘incremental brand value’ by building out line extensions and adding ancillary products. In the era of digital and social media, brand value can be unlocked in an exponential way by developing the optimal media mix and devising the right formats for each brand.

It also means sticking to the fundamental questions: what are the demographics, who are the buyers, what are the right media choices and how do we build the trust factor into everything we do? The latter is most important especially when engaging audiences of ‘mommy bloggers’ who have valuable opinions about product safety, play value and ideas for innovation.

It also requires a change in mindset since metrics are not always conveniently at hand. In fact, it may be advantageous by allowing managers to take risk by investing in more trials, seeing what works through iteration and then building metrics that support additional investments for a calculated payoff.

For Hasbro, one formula that continues to prove itself in effect leads the consumer through the channels. Television is the anchor for certain target segments for brand building; websites are ideal for promotional activity and driving consumers to the retail store.

So let me end with a few more Hasbro brands that you may well recognize: Twister, Battleship, Yahtzee, Risk, Tinker Toy, Play-Doh, Sorry! and Easy Bake. And yes, there are and will be more apps.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia

 

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Commentary: Media Companies Need To Become Marketing Companies

The following is an excerpt from an online post authored by Andrew Heyward and Jeffrey F. Rayport in a recent edition of Harvard Business Review:     

                                                                                                                                                                         These consumers, people we like to call “Customers 3.0,” live in a blur of mash-ups, blogs, RSS feeds, links, text messages, tweets, and “life-casting” on social networks like Facebook and MySpace. For Customers 3.0, the very idea of content includes everything, embracing all media formats as well as advertising. And they collect, collate, and customize such content according to their individual tastes in personalized online environments (like MySpace or Facebook “pages”). This is what we call “user-generated context.”        

In this environment, it’s increasingly difficult for either publishers OR advertisers to stand out. The long-standing value proposition of publishers to brands – we create compelling content that attracts a desirable audience and then sell you the privilege of placing your commercial messages adjacent to it – is becoming a tougher sell.         

That’s because marketers don’t get much value out of seeing their messages appear in anodyne ad units (like banners ads). They need rich integration of their brands with content users are seeking or creating on their own. That leaves publishers in a sticky position: either they stand by and watch marketers build compelling online experiences without them, or they put their editorial and creative capabilities to use to help their clients – the big brands – cut through the clutter.         

In our practice, we like to say that “every company is a media company.” Increasingly, every media company must also become a marketing company. For online publishers, the challenge is to achieve that goal without damaging the very reputation for credibility and integrity on which their market positions rest. If online publishers can’t manage that balancing act before it’s too late, they’ll have more than mud on their faces.          

Here is my take:  As brands/national advertisers transform in part, to media, publishers have an opportunity to seek new partnerships by redefining their roles. For one, extending the value proposition means that publishers can be purveyors of a paid subscription base that is made available to brands as participants in making the message. Media and message become united. Message and media finally merge in a way that makes business and cultural sense.    

What this may mean, by necessity, is the redefinition of how the paid print advertising model is architected as ‘earned media’ become currency. This is not to advocate a ‘freemium model’ – after all, you still only get what you pay for – rather a model that attributes a business value to user-generated content reflecting the effort and subsequent return of the medium.     

Those that see the opportunity will find the right tools for the job. New cloud applications are about to come out of the gate in such as way that makes the cost of entry low and the opens the door to test this new media paradigm.      

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia      

Marketing Research Mindset: Stop Debating ‘Social’

Yes, look here for answers

Is it research or something else? Social media, Business Intelligence, Customer Relationship Management, Online Communities and Marketing Research (MR) – all are ways to listen and understand customers.

My guess is that MR is filled with the most angst amidst some sort of identity crisis in relation to social media.  Witness this recent piece in Research Magazine:

The survey of marketers, conducted for the IAB by research agency Opinion Matters, found that the most common use of social media was to drive awareness and consideration of a brand, as well as engagement and advocacy. 60% of the firms surveyed said they were using social media for research purposes, but when asked where social media fits in their organisation (selecting all answers that applied from a total of six), only 12% chose research, compared to 73% who chose marketing, 33% who chose PR/communications and 20% who chose ‘other’.

No wonder there is angst. MR isn’t really seen as delivering value when in comes to social media. If you get a migrane just thinking about social media, consider the following possible remedies:

1. Social Media won’t go away but respondents have: While people are giving up land lines and don’t like getting unsolicited mail, they’re opting to express opinion on the Internet in a pure, organic way. Partner with an online monitoring firm and create a new social science.

2. Stop hiring more MR professionals: Instead, hire people who understand the digital space. Marketing Technologists speak to ways in which applications enable the marketing process and the customer experience. Innovate.

3. Clients are buying-in to marketing research online (MROCs) and owned media platforms: In order to deliver incremental perceived value – business insights or new ideas – you must play in the right sandbox when it comes to customer listening.

4. Stop acting like an accounting function : It’s the job of the MR professional to guide the CMO and others, in a brand or customer management role, to see the way forward. Focus on what’s in the cloud and drive the next big idea. Act in real-time.

5. If you try to prove ROI you will die: Ask yourself, how many things does an enterprise do without having to justify with ROI? Do marketing, strategy, HR and finance have to deliver ROI to justify their existence? MR needs to focus on business benefits as the way of knitting together social media across the enterprise. Be the Voice of the Customer.

Leadership is the best way to overcome angst and clears the way for taking ownership. No one will fault you for that.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Marketing Research is Fun!

The Media Prism: Earned, Paid and Owned

In a recent post by Brian Solis, “Why Brands are Becoming Media“, there was reference to a grid developed by Forrester that attempts to define a new way to segment media channels or ‘customer touchpoints’:

The above is a fine represention as it brings a high level order to this complex new media mix. As a CRM and Marketing Technology professional I believe in being focused on business process with a  view to implementation. Here is my ‘managerial’ grid:

Clearly the media landscape is changing continuously and many more iterations will develop as we move along the maturity curve. At this point, it’s not so much a matter of what is right or wrong, rather, what works best for each of us as we look through the multi-faceted media prism.

– Ted Morris, 4ScreensCRM

Social Media Slap Chop

As corporate managers seek to make some sense out of new media, it’s been interesting how the noise from advocate continues. Here are a few soundbites:

1) ROI. A few power bloggers have been consuming a lot of oxygen these days ranting about how there is little need to financially justify investment in social media. Social Media, unlike say, billboard advertising, is sacred because it’s all about trust and transparency. Besides, you’ve lost control of your brand to the consumer, so what the heck, just do it.
 
2) See, it works! Some folks are all agog about Dell generating some $6M worth of sales that were ‘influenced’ by the Twitter channel. The percentage sold, against total 2009 sales, was so small my calculator registered blank.
 

"You're Going to Have an Exciting Life Now."

3) Rage against the Expert. Enough already.  There are no experts, just people who speak loudly and have their musings (and picture) all over various social networks. None of these folks actually work for a Fortune 500, 1000 or 2000 company but they likely have a nice blog and written a giga-seller book or two or three. Let’s move on.
 
4) Case studies. Go back to item (2) as this is a about as good as it really gets. Most companies are in beta stage figuring out what works best for them. For example, Coke recently ditched private media in favour of social networking, which is just fine. 
 
5) Predictions. Newspapers are dead.  Advertising is a relic. Television is passe. Mobile is king. Facebook is the new Superpower. So many folks feel it necessary to make pronoucements on the future (which is here already since we are now moving faster than real time, according to some) that they get themselves worked into a voodoo-like trance. While in this somnambulant state, they feel their musings are fact while looking to pick up another 10,000 Twitter followers by the end of the day.
 
 6) Gushing over gadgets: Early adopters love to be the first to own the latest piece of technology such as an iPhone, iPod or iTablet, which is fine my me. However, some folks are over the moon about these new products to the point that they leave you wondering if they’re shills or stock promoters as they wax so enthusiastically. Mind you they’re also the first to wail away if something goes wrong such as poor smart phone connectivity (which was really a carrier issue).
 
7) Social Media is a must have. If you don’t you’re either stupid, in denial or you just plain don’t get it and the world will leave you in the nanodust of the cloud – especially if you’re a CMO. Rather than consider a firm’s CRM maturity level, those who have a knack for prescription pay little attention to the complexities inherent in the marketing and media mix. Makes me wonder – do social media evangelists have actual clients
 
– Ted Morris, 4ScreensMedia
 
 
 

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