Winning and Losing in Real Time Marketing

iMedia Connection recently ran a piece on Real Time Marketing and they graciously featured some of my thoughts. Obviously only the best bits got into the article but here’s all the stuff I submitted to iMedia.

What is real-time marketing?

The inception of RTM came when brands and agencies realized that they could not create social content to scale by employing the same process used to create TV ads. Real-time marketing recognizes that brands must become part of their consumers’ lives and in order to do so, the brand would have to take on human qualities.

What types of goals should a brand be looking at from real-time marketing? In other words, what can a brand realistically hope to achieve in real time?

Aside from the usual social metrics, namely engagement, companies that do well with RTM will transcend being brands and become part of the cultural fabric that their consumers operate in. They will become talked about, as opposed to simply having their messages broadcast. Ironically, becoming part of the cultural fabric is exactly what great TV and print ads have always strived to do.

What’s been the biggest (or most common) misunderstanding you’ve seen with respect to real-time marketing? Or, put another way: what’s been the hardest thing you’ve had to explain to clients about real time?

It’s easy to get excited about the promise of RTM but the reality is, that it takes a long time, hard work and buckets of trust to get to a place where everyone feels comfortable about operating in real-time. I read that it took Oreo 17 months to get to its Super Bowl tweet, which demonstrates that brands should plan for a long haul. The vital element is being agile enough to support your output with paid media – otherwise it may not matter how relevant or how human you are, you will not achieve the sort of scale required for your business.

Real time can be a tricky thing because it obviously means doing away with, or at the very least streamlining, approvals. While nobody wants to make mistakes, it seems like they come with the territory. What’s most important for a brand in terms of responding after a real-time mistake?

Social media is simple and we make engaging with it far more complex than we should. RTM humanizes brands, and humans make mistakes. Obviously, brands are held to higher standards than humans, or at least their mistakes are more obvious because they reach so many people. Nevertheless, they should act as humans do: ‘fess up, apologize and try their hardest not to do it again. Humans are a forgiving species, and we reward honesty and transparency.  

It’s been more than six months since Oreo’s famous Super Bowl tweet, and yet we’re still talking about it. Does our industry have an unhealthy obsession with real time?

I don’t think that obsession is the right word. Even if it is, I don’t think that it’s a bad thing. From a creative standpoint, we always look to do things that have never been done before and now RTM is a tactic to achieve differentiation, moment by moment. “Firsts” in competitive categories typically outperform the norm. Therefore, RTM can still work for brands and agencies – the first brave financial services or pharma company to do RTM in an authentic and successful way will be able to differentiate itself from its peers.

With so many brands competing in real-time, do you have any concern that consumers will suffer from real-time fatigue?

Facebook’s newsfeed announcement revealed that each user could see 1,500 potential pieces of new content every time they update their experience.  All of this is being done in real-time. Brands need to be relevant to their audience and RTM is one tactic to help achieve relevance. Brief-driven work will not go away. It is, however, now being complemented by relevance and humanity.

Five ways brands win (or lose) with real time marketing on iMedia Connection


One Response to Winning and Losing in Real Time Marketing

  1. Gabriel says:

    Hello, thanks for the great article!

    If you had to choose 5 companies to create your real-time marketing campaigns, what would you choose?

    Oh, and another question, was the famous Oreo tweet created in-house, or they work with a company for their social stuff?


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