Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Augmenting Reality and Content

Why do we like overlays?

Augmentation refers to the process of making something more than originally intended - larger, more numerous, more intense.   In marketing, it often refers to satisfying one of two personal needs;  augmentation adds...
  1. information and context.
  2. a layer of personalization.
In the post-PC era content must reflect time and place because devices are now portable and thus truly become extensions of ourselves rather than our desks.

For the first type of augmentation, Adam Broitman wrote a good, detailed piece today entitled "A marketer's guide to augmented reality."   The technological examples range from individual to group experiences, e.g. National Geographic's Museum, to healthcare, e.g. glucose monitoring contact lenses for diabetics.   Because consumers will expect a brand to be where they are supporting what they are doing AR will continue to evolve. 

Also in the news this week was research that showed Pinterest is one of the top referrers to women's magazines.  While single copy sales are down nearly 10% year-over-year the linkage between personal interests and editorial content continues to grow.  The idea of combining interests from numerous sources alters the concept of content curation from an editorial role to one of being in a collector's club.

Now, to simply reverse the process and use Pinterest in AR to create a personalized, digital issue as part of the shopping experience. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Marketers as Matchmakers

What can we learn from Yente?

"Matchmaker, matchmaker find me a match" - the classic lyrics from Fiddler on the Roof - apply to marketing as well as the marriage scene.  With a myriad of choices out there in nearly every category, marketers should be helping consumers choose.    On what basis can we can align needs and solutions?

There seem to be several possible ways in which matches can be made.
  • Product:  From product selectors based on usage to using data mining to pick appropriate products for flyers this is the oldest and most common form of matching.  The objective is to make a sale.
  • Consumer:  in industries where consumers share a common goal or style facilitating introductions may be the best way to create brand loyalty.   Homipholy is a power attractant and companies should create communities where appropriate.
  • Voice and Message: if consumers use a product or service for very different reasons then it is quite possible to change the positioning of the product.   If we can understand the outcome a consumer is looking for, then we can serve up appropriate content.    The objective is to simplify the process of creating an emotional connection. 
  • Finances: for real estate and automobiles sometimes the financing is as important as the house or the car itself. It can take the form of "you prequalify for $x" or "you can trade up for less than you're paying now."  The objective is to limit the range of choices to those within an appropriate payment envelope.
All of the above require an analytics engine of some type - from propensity models to collaborative filters to semantic technologies to complex business rules.   Mastering this diversity of technology is probably not a core competency of most marketers or companies. The implication is that analytics are likely to remain an outsourced function dominated by a cluster of boutique firms who do one thing well.  

Need to update my Rolodex in a couple of areas.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

ROI and Coupon Monsters

"What is the ROI of a phone system?"

This was in response to a discussion at the local Utah AMA event around the payoff of social, local and mobile (SoLoMo) marketing.  I believe the point was that at some point, certain technologies simply become part of the business fabric - you can't operate without them.  However, from a marketing perspective the panelists were clear: If you don't know the objective and what success/failure looks like then it is easy to chase the next shiny object.  And this led to the best quote of the evening: "I hate lazy, crappy marketing."

Some key points...
  1. ROI should be used as a relative measure to compare alternatives, not the absolutes of a single event.   It answers the question, where should I spend my next dollar?
  2. Discounting should be tested carefully before deploying since you can't undo the effects of rewarding that kind of behavior.
  3. The trend is toward direct-to-consumer marketing where it is "easier" to measure the impact of the spend.   This is a not so subtle shift from brand marketing to sales; the long-term effects of which are unknown.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Insights Come from Clues

What can we learn from product purchases?

In one of the most interesting cases of using data to create insights, the NYT reported and Forbes followed up on how Target figured out whether someone was pregnant. Using changes in product purchases the analytics team estimated the likelihood that a guest was pregnant and specifically in which trimester.

The marketing reason for such an analysis: identifying someone who is about to have a baby can be the basis for forming a long-term relationship. The business reason for doing so: If you can do that before other companies, the odds are much more in your favor of creating the habit that drives loyalty.

Those articles were shared by the boatload with lots of discussion.  The response was usually somewhere between cool and creepy; particularly when you start thinking about "selling the pregnancy score."  (Pic from that article.)

I'll leave the debate as to whether this goes beyond the boundaries of leveraging personal information to the ethicists.  From an analytic perspective, this a good example of how it should work.
  1. Identify a question that hasn't been adequately answered before.
  2. Attempt to infer the existence of a market based on what little we know.
  3. Create, execute and refine a plan based on the clues.    
No report could have produced this type of analysis. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Marketing Platforms and Human Behavior

Can marketing ever be automated?

The marketing of marketing technology fills our minds with the idea that it can be streamlined and automated.   However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it can never be a hands-free process.   Consider the issues with email marketing where list decay, declining click thru rates, and better filters result in a constant battle to just stay even, never mind improving things. 

Like Sisyphus, we continue to believe we're making progress only to find up we are further behind.

To succeed at our jobs as marketers, which in my mind is about influencing choice, suggests we would be better off if we focused on consumer behavior.   We need to garner insights, understand content consumption habits, and anticipate the path to purchase.   Individually the verbs "garner, understand, and anticipate" don't strike me as things that can be automated very well.  And the combination of the three would be a daunting task indeed. 

The questions we should be constantly considering include:
  • What would be of interest right now?
  • How can we alter the probability of choosing us?
  • What can we do to remove friction along the decision path?

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Landscape of Marketing Technology

What works when and for whom?

With the myriad of platforms, vehicles, and tools available to marketers it seemed inevitable that someone would come up with a framework for understanding what works for whom and when. 

The Grocery Manufacturer's Association and Booz & Company released their fourth annual installment of 'Shopper Marketing' and while focused on the buying part of consumer behavior, it does offer a good framework for overlaying marketing objectives on top of technology. 

The key findings:
  • Marketing spend  on helping consumers choose (buy) continues to rise faster than other categories.
  • Deal seeking, particularly digital, continues to be integral to the decision-making process.
  • Proliferation makes for a complex world complex that eschews testing for the tried and true.
The overlay of business objectives and path to purchase on top of the effectiveness of various vehicles is worth the read.  

Friday, February 03, 2012

The New Tenets of Marketing Plans

What are the foundations of marketing planning?

A recent request on what the technology trends are led to thinking about some core elements that now have to be a part of any discussion about marketing plans.

Mobile is the center of the experience.
  • Point-Know-Buy:  Consumers will be able to find out about anything simply by pointing to it.  The trend is to understand any object, not just those with codes or embedded activation.   Great examples from trendwatching.    
  • Showrooming:  in-store mobile commerce; the trend to leverage both a network (phone calls) and the Internet while standing in a store.    
  • Wireless Wallet: cash and cards will be marginalized as the wallet itself pays for everything.   
 Consumption gives way to Sharing.
  •  Continuation of a trend; sharable content will overtake content designed for consumption.  Time spent on Facebook is now >15% of Internet minutes.    
  • Content Know Thyself: Intelligence will be built directly into content for tracking and linking;   based on personal conversations with Adobe folks. 
Marketing and CIO are Joined at the Hip.
  • Digital advertising now exceeds 30% of spend; will push toward 50%.  Because we're dealing in bits – the advertising world is often a technology one first, a marketing one second.  Complexity of just display illustrated here by LUMA and simplified by PerfectMarket. 
  • Contact platforms will first extend horizontally to cover channels and then move vertically up into the business.   Already seeing this with platforms moving from email to multi-channel management.
  •  Marketing firms are creating 'chief marketing technology' roles that effectively join the CMO and CIO roles.
Modularity and Place Independence.
  •  Stuff will simply be there.   While the cloud was originally thought of as a cost-saving alternative to the DIY Glasshouse; the unintended benefit is that content is accessible from anywhere.   From Dropbox, match from iCloud, to telematics in cars the notion of content storage as part of an app will evaporate.
  •  Mashups will succumb to modules.   The open nature of APIs allowed individuals to create new things; but that doesn't always scale.  In its place will be higher-order modules that connect with a host platform. Facebook, Amazon, salesforce and Adobe all have visions of being the center of a Hub and Spoke architecture because they own a verb.  The best apps will disappear because they become part of the device.
Data Makes Decisions
  •  Personalization, relevancy, and customization will be driven by the math – gone will be the sessions trying to prioritize offers.  If we can optimize a banner ad on a publisher's site for a particular set of eyes, we should be able to do it for coupons.  Real time bidding and other sophisticated analytics will be applied to flyers.     
  •  Big Money from Big Data:  the ability to wrestle the sheer magnitude of data into submission, never mind gleaning insights, will be a premium.   McKinsey predicts a 50% gap in required skills by 2018.   

Guess I'll have to update those planning templates and dig out my old slide rule.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Markeing's Goal: Own a Verb

What's in a word?

Often in positioning a product or company we talk about owning a word: safety, easy, etc.  On NPR this morning with Mark Pincus of Zynga made an interesting point: Don't own just any word, own a human activity.

Quick, who owns:


What's the combined value of those verbs?
What is the market cap of Amazon + Google + YouTube + Facebook + Zynga?
The 'next big thing' will own a verb.