10 Themes for 2012 for Data-driven Marketers - Elliott Easterling-RBM
Published: February 9, 2012 at 05:52 AM GMT
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Last Updated: February 8, 2012 at 05:52 AM GMT
By Elliott Easterling
Everyone has a "start of year" list.
Here are some of the key trends to capitalize on in 2012 that we think will help you strike it rich.
What you'll notice is the constant across all of these themes is technology and data. At RBM, we believe there's magic in the data (a.k.a. there's gold in them hills).
1. All Marketing Is Now Digital
Because of social and mobile media, all marketing is now digital. Every single expression of offline/traditional marketing has the potential for ancillary expression through the social graph. Furthermore, with smartphones entering the mass market, experiences can be photographed, scanned, mapped, and shared like never before. Any piece of marketing put into the market is always seconds away from being digitally impactful. A recent piece in USA TODAY discusses the use of integrated digital experiences on cereal boxes.
2. Big Data Will Rule Marketing
If you don't know what big data is, yesterday was the time to find out. It will revolutionize marketing. There is more consumer data being collected than ever before across the advertising and CRM continuum (awareness > interest > preference> purchase >evangelism). In advertising, data resides in ad servers, web analytics, media-buying platforms, and third-party sellers like Blue Kai. In CRM, it resides in retail purchase behavior, credit card-use pattern, and direct mail response files, to name just a few. The agencies of the future will use big data to draw insights to solve big marketing problems. That is the defensible competitive advantage of the brands of the future.
3. Data Integration Is Coming, and Faster Than You Think
There is a big pot of gold for those entrepreneurs who solve the data integration game, and a lot of VC money is chasing this problem. There's already a big industry push to make data more integrated. I think the ability for marketers to link up all their disparate sources of big data will come faster than people think—there is too much money at stake for the winners in that space.
4. Consumers Will Be Rewarded for Their Data
Industry self-regulation or government regulation will likely lead to more consumer control over personal and marketing data. That data is incredibly valuable to marketers, so the more control consumers get, the more the industry will find ways to reward consumers for access to that data. Incentives may span discounts, loyalty club-like exclusive offers, or innovative models yet to be conceived.
5. Two Devices Will Run Your Life
Consumers will gradually move to a two-device paradigm to run the majority of their "personal" computing needs. Mobile phones will continue to serve the entertainment, payment, and communication needs of people on the go. At home, tablets will be responsible for home entertainment & media consumption, energy settings, lighting, grocery ordering, and more.
6. Data Will Be Portable and Will Define Your Identity
All your key data and assets will move into the cloud. This includes music, links, movies, photos, books, etc. Consumers will be able to access important items on demand from multiple devices. Given that these digital assets greatly define your social media identity, with portability they will increasingly define your real world identity. It won't strictly be what you say that expresses your personality, but the data on the device that you carry—the 1s and 0s of it all.
7. Content Discoverability Is About a Key Unit of Measurement: Links
Many might think I'm making an SEO reference, but I am not. SEO links are important, but what is equally important to content discovery is link (URL) sharing. If you think about it, outside of images the most frequent things shared in social media are links. It's this unit of measure and its associated shorteners that rule the content you share and discover. It' the human transfer of URL "addresses" that powers the success of SEO as well as social marketing campaigns. A lot of emerging marketing technologies help publishers track the dissemination of links. Getting links shared and into the right hands, has to be central to any content marketing strategy.
8. Quality Content Will Always Win in the Long Run
Google is tightening down on content farms. Social networks are clamping down on Spam and favoring engaging posts. Algorithms seek to identify fake reviews on shopping sites. Using sophisticated technology, publishers and marketing infrastructure companies are getting an upper hand on poor-quality, un-engaging content. Marketers who commit to a long-term strategy to produce high-quality, engaging content will build a defensible competitive advantage.
9. Images Will Rule the Earth.
Our attention spans are shrinking, while our need for stimulus is increasing. Facebook programmed us to navigate via shared images and instant gratification—a lot of what you do on Facebook is scan and click on images (therein lies the genius of its ad program, but that is another story). Images can say an infinite amount in milliseconds while satisfying the new digital primal need for excessive stimuli. Enter Pinterest, Instagram, and Stumblr stage left, and the new world of social image streaming is upon us. These technologies allow anyone to aggregate found content and become as powerful as a magazine editor. Business Insider wrote an interesting piece worth citing "2012: The Year Of Social Curation?" Image are thus increasingly becoming central to how we experience content and spend time online.
10. It Is Not All About Apps, but Distribution
I think the apps trend is overrated and overstated. Yes I said it. The market is looking at the wrong drivers with all this app mania. This came to me when John Bosso, our head of engineering, told me that apps are increasingly just skins with most of the processing done on the server side. I thought "Well apps are just websites that give you access to premium content and hosted services." Of course, unlike websites they can tie into some of your phone's fancy features, but in essence they are websites. And if apps are websites that you buy access to, then the market is driven by the same forces that govern all media: Controlling distribution. I had this epiphany at a lunch with mobile technology exec. Fred Chieux. Apple makes money from owning the distribution network and charging you a premium for their hardware. Google gives you the software for free and then makes money on integrated services that drive advertising revenue. Both are fighting in the content distribution space. The biggest losers are Microsoft and traditional media companies.
I am personally excited about what the future holds. I look forward to where new technologies will take our industry. Marketing is only going to get more complicated.
Elliott Easterling is Co-Founder & Chairman of the Board at RBM. Elliott can be reached at email@example.com
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