Tag Archives: private label

Marketing Research and the Rise of the Social Machines

I recently had the pleasure of providing a guest post for the AMA – American Marketing Association’s Marketing Research Conference held last week. These are times of transformation for an industry reputed to see the world through a rear-view mirror rather than drive marketing innovation. With this in mind, here are some further musings:
Mobile and the Generation ‘Effect’: Verizon just announced it is exiting the land line business by 2012. This gives credence to what some telecom industry analysts have been suggesting – the general public will have completely disconnected from land lines by 2020. Most consumers aged 16-29 currently do not have a landline subscription and are one of the most difficult target markets to contact for survey research. If you think your teenage son or daughter are hard to reach because of their preoccupation with mobile devices and the Internet, just imagine how mobile the world will be in 5, 10, 20 years. It’s quite possible that some market segments will only being reachable via a social site or mobile device; with portability or ‘go anywhere computing’ a term once coined by IBM, it will be difficult to ascertain whether or not the target respondent is actually based in a specific geographic location or physical market.

Brand Community Building: While some say “the consumer now controls the brand”, brands have commissioned companies such as Communispace to establish brand communities – online aggregations of consumers who have a specific loyalty, interest and adherence to a brand. Communispace has built over 300 online brand communities for clients such as HP, Kraft, Reebok, Starwood, and GSK. Brands use communities for direct feedback on product experience, innovation, service ideas, and value augmentation, allocating dollars that would normally go to marketing research budgets.

The complexity of business challenges will be augmented by the emergence of Owned Platforms. Owned Platforms, essentially a form of private label media, is moving the locus of brand management and control back to the brand. Procter & Gamble provides a great example of this with the multi-platform launch of Rouge Magazine www.rougemagazine.com. According to a recent report by WARC, P&G is also launching Supersavvyme,  a digital place for “savvy” mothers to gather. This Owned Platform will feature articles, blogs, discussion forum and special offers. In fact, P&G has put the ‘freemium’ concept on its ear by offering choc-a-block assortments of coupons and offers, a notable feature of the free Rouge quarterly.

Social Media Monitoring (SMM) Platforms: Five years ago the marketing research industry scoffed at such listening platforms. The biggest objection I heard was that social media monitoring “wasn’t market research.”  This would have been like saying that digital advertising wasn’t true advertising since it did not use traditional creative, media and pricing models. SMM Platforms will continue to grow in terms of capabilities, scope, cost and business applications. Back in 2003 there were less that a dozen viable SMMs in business; today there are over 50, at that is just in the US alone — and clients are buying their services with monies previously allocated to traditional survey-based research.

Many of the world’s largest and most well known brands are going digital in a large way – Coca-Cola, Ford, Dell and Lufthansa, are already there and leading the way; many others are migrating in that direction. In response, agency networks are reshuffling the deck. WPP, Omnicom, Publicis for example have acquired significant digital capabilities.  All are using social media applications to ‘sense and respond’ to customer requirements at times bypassing traditional marketing research as the need for “real time/on demand” consumer feedback grows.

These challenges also touch many related professional services including business intelligence and management consulting. Taking an ‘Outside-In view’, that of our the client, similar challenges exist at the functional and execution levels. The silver lining for marketing research in all this is the opportunity to take an active role in providing a foreword view for the brand. This means being a catalyst in the convergence of digital technology and marketing and placing innovation and invention at the forefront – Ted Morris ©4ScreenMedia

Owned Platforms: Up-cycling sponsored media in the digital world

[Author’s note: This post originally appeared in Communispace’s Verbatim]

The idea of “Owned Platforms,” otherwise known as private label media captivates me. Procter & Gamble recently announced that The Guiding Light, its oldest sponsored TV soap opera was finally going off air after 72 years on radio, then television. The company then announced that it was launching its own private digital media platform. Initially, Pampers will be sponsoring a series of webisodes called A parent is born about young couples expecting a child. Other projects include digital casting for a variety of product categories in partnership with the likes of NBC Digital Networks.

On October 7th, Procter & Gamble with the aid of its Canadian ‘mommy blogger’ community, launched  Rouge Magazine a new magazine and online edition, into the US. It’s targeted to 11M households and “beauty-involved females.” The underlying objective is to build a massive database using the information of those that will be engaging with the brand across multiple owned media platforms. Rouge is beyond freemium…it’s chock-a-block with coupons for P&G beauty products.

One of the reasons owned platforms caught my attention was that it reminded me of traditional sponsored advertising—coming back full circle to digital media but delivered directly by the brand rather than a TV network. Conceptually, the first example that came to mind was when television programming was ‘brought to you’ by a ‘proud sponsor’ like Kraft, Molson, or General Motors. Fast forward…sponsored advertising of old has come full circle into digital.

Ford, out of the automotive industry, is also going deep.  The Financial Times has suggested that ‘aggressive’ sub-branding, by companies like Ford, are creating owned platforms and individualizing online sites. For example, Facebook is being used effectively for the Fusion and Fiesta brand hubs where loyalists and potential customers participate in the online community.

The redesigned Fiesta specifically, the worldwide launch of  www.fiestamovement.com, makes use of trust agents on-the-ground and online across various digital media to build a high degree of awareness and brand building. It’s getting business results too: over 50,000 inquiries for the Fiesta have been generated in advance of the US market launch.

It’s remarkable how the process of branded product advertising is coming around to look like the early days of television—only the media mix is broader and is being up-cycled. Companies with owned platforms are delivering their brand’s message and driving consumer engagement from any of all of the three screens—sponsored television, Internet, and mobile.

So here is the question: Are companies emerging as ‘social OEMs’ who, through the deployment of owned platforms, are bringing back control of their brands to create equilibrium of push and pull marketing? If so, the science will be in bringing all of the right media and branding elements together; the art will be in reaching brand communities tailor-made for these emerging owned platforms.