2014 Predictions

December 18, 2013

Forward looking statements often take the form of predicting the present – taking what we see as happening now and projecting it into a greater and wider trend – so please take these comments, provided to Marketing Mag (along with some digital luminaries) in the manner in which they are intended!


The pay-to-play model for brands on social networks is getting more and more expensive so this is the year we’ll see brands move away from shared media and refocus on properties they can truly own.

Agencies and marketers will have to work with what we’ve got. Sadly, there may not be too many shiny new things for us social media-aholics in the next couple of years. Cash-rich from their IPOs or late-stage fundraising, social networks will continue to overpay for or shamelessly borrow from any new comer that threatens their dominance. Pictures! In DMs! (italics added after my submission…)

As internet users, we will become increasingly cynical and better at sniffing out publicity hungry fakes…waitresses…protesters…twerkers…baby stealing eagles. This leaves far more space for brands to tug on our heart strings in a genuinely humble and human way.

RTM = real time mis-steps. 23% of brands will be forced to delete a social media post as being offensive, or apologize for said post.

Big data doesn’t lie. The country’s most storied news outlets will give into popular demand and exist solely of GIF-based lists. 47.5% of which will feature animals.

67% of statistics will continue to be made up on the spot.


The power of the post-launch

December 9, 2013

So much of our time is spent focusing on launching a campaign or on shipping a product. There’s a feeling that that moment is the zenith, the peak that we should we working towards and when its achieved, we can take a breath. Sadly, that is no longer the truth. The “set and forget” mindset is long behind us and it is great to see a huge, multi-billion dollar brand that not only gets that but that then uses the data it gets from its consumers to fuel its ongoing marketing. In this case. its the EA Sports football franchise, FIFA.

With all of the connected devices playing network games, or even just relaying statistics back to the mothership, EA Sports has a treasure trove of data that it can use to continue to market itself in smart, low cost ways – the definition of building marketing into the product.

Here are two examples:

First, FIFA has partnered with the football clubs around the world to showcase the goals of the week scored by the clubs’ fans on their game. Now you have football clubs with a social presence reaching into the 10s of millions promoting a video game. Here’s my club’s goals of the week:

And secondly here is FIFA using its data to cement its place in the cultural fabric of its potential consumers – football fans.

FIFA player data

There’s enough rich data in the infographic to start a conversation between any two (or more!) footy fans from different clubs, countries and cultures.

Kudos for Plain English

November 11, 2012

Good job Debenhams (an English department store) for using plain, accessible english in its coffee menu.

For what its worth, I like my language like I like my hot chocolate. Supreme, with whipped cream and a chocolate flake.

via Business Insider and eater.com.

Creating Original Content

June 29, 2011

According to eMarketer, online video advertising will rise 40% this year but the real opportunity is in creating real, branded original content – in telling stories.

I’ve said before that the marketing department will eventually create or consume a publishing department – for just this purpose. At this year’s mesh conference, we noticed an interesting tension – media companies are really trying hard to keep their content behind paywalls and protect it from pirating while brands and their advertising agencies are looking to have their work pirated! Obviously its not enough to just create content, there are some key attributes to the sort of content you want to create.

Propagation Planning Network Diagram

Which is why I like the direction from the CFL (Canadian Football League) in creating this mini documentary on one young prospect’s “Road to the Show”. I just spent about 20minutes with a brand that I don’t usually spend too much time with. Because of that, I’m going to be watching out for John Surla this season – and may watch one or two more games as a result.

You can see how John Surla’s journey ends here.

Gamification and The Game Layer

May 9, 2011

I recently posted on The Game Layer, and included a presentation from a DDB colleague on the trend. I’ve been playing with Foursquare, Farmville and Empire Avenue as well as watching with interest as many brands start to build Game Mechanics into their programs. However, even at this nascent stage, we should ask ourselves whether this is a real trend with staying power or something which will burn out and fade away? Or something in-between.

Altimeter’s Jeremiah Owyang wrote a recap of an inpromptu round-table discussion the research company had to discuss the phenomenon of gamification. I really liked these three main points to come out of it:

Opportunities Abound –But Benefits Not Clear Agreed. From Owyang: Intel shared its needs from a brand perspective: to engage with customers, focusing on reach and advocacy. Other potential use cases may include branded goods and couponing. What’s in it for the users of these tools? Anything from entertainment, connecting with others, or even increasing visiblity and reputation.

Skepticism: Questioning on Burnout and User Desire Reputation, points or badges are great, but driving a more real value like coupons, premium content, or other real world tangible ability is paramount. Many people are not driven by reputation and badges –they just want to connect with others and communicate. Others may just not want to be, or grow tired of, being manipulated within a game construct with no end and, as above, with no value.

Concerns on Platform Interoperability . This feels like a bit of a red herring as the space is so new but if it continuesto grow apace it will become an issue for the hardcore, just like OpenID. By its very nature, gamification is built on a case by case basis so unless an aggregator appears its not likely to be an issue – all these platforms have APIs so its the most likely scenario

But even as we start to discuss this, it seems as if one of gamification’s pioneers (Foursquare) is seeing a dearth of check-ins which are pivotal to and supposedly driven by, the game layer:

Click to enlarge.

Sometimes I just want to sell some hubcaps

November 29, 2010

From the same vein as “all I’m looking for is some really tasty sausages” comes this article on AdAge which reminds us not all companies, brands, products or organizations are right for social media:

“That old CMO doesn’t need to publish content or tweet his innermost and briefest thoughts. He doesn’t need to innovate, crowdsource or chase any other imaginative term marketers use to hype the pretense that branding’s magic will cover up the realities of business, or that the hopes for it are any newer than really old and outdated expectations.

He needs to sell better hubcap fasteners, and there are a wide variety of operational ways he can do so. Sharing that reality with his customers is the marketing opportunity offered by the social web, not a substitute for it. Isn’t doing anything less, or different, just a distraction?”

via The Dangerous Lure of the Social Web – Advertising Age – CMO Strategy.

However, that CMO should know the role reviews and endorsements play in the automobile buying process, along with the difference between his younger customers (who are influenced by their peers) and older customers (who are influenced by respected, usually mainstream, authoritative voices). He should also know the role of search in finding that perfect hubcap and the influence social media plays in search. And what about the increasing role of location based services within social media and their ability to precisely target offers.

I don’t think the answer is to become a publisher, but that’s not to say there’s not a role for social media to play in his mission to profitably sell more hub caps.

Five Great CMO Blogs

September 15, 2010

There’s plenty of great blogs out there but the one’s I pay special attention to are from the people I admire or want to emulate. John Ellett from nFusion Group has a list of his five favourite CMO blogs.

  1. Nigel Dessau: Hosted on the AMD blog site, Nigel shares his insights on the business in a personal way. But he also writes separate blog called The Three Minute Mentor, which contains quick, career-related advice and offers answers to common questions.
  2. Sam Decker: Soon-to-be former CMO of BazaarVoice, Sam shares his insights on social commerce and digital marketing.
  3. Jim Davis: Jim is the CMO of SAS and shares his insights on business, analytics and technology.*
  4. John Dragoon: When John, CMO of Novell,  takes time to write a post, he really writes a thoughtful piece.
  5. Randall Beard: As EVP of Nielsen, Randall shares his insights from his vantage point of seeing lots of media data.

via 5 good CMO blogs. Why aren’t there more?.

There’s also a list of the top CMOs using Twitter, produced by Social Media Marketing Magaizne.

* Disclosure, SAS UK and EMEA was one of my first ever clients in the PR industry.

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