advertising technology

Brand, Marketing – 2014 and beyond

These are not really trends or predictions, it’s more a set of drivers and their impact on the domain of brand marketing.

Technology: Disruption is an abused word, but I think technology is the biggest disruption that marketing has experienced. Yes, it has been so every time a new medium cropped up, but this wave is special. In this largish bucket, I’m dumping everything from the Internet of Things (IoT, which, in addition to really smarter devices and spaces, will also, I hope, give the entire domain of social a reboot) to 3D printing (HP’s entry, scheduled for mid 2014, should push this further in the mainstream journey) to wearable tech/techsessories (Google Glass is the poster boy, though development is happening on various fronts) to Social TV. (a classic example of how social adds itself as a layer to existing media platforms and augments it)  I also add to this the advancements in devices – specifically mobile, which is already forcing marketers to quickly rework their strategy to adapt. The reason I used the word disruption is because by fostering a new kind of phenomenon like say, the collaborative economy, and getting ready to challenge traditional manufacturing, technology is going beyond its role as an enabler and changing brand experiences.

Marketing Technology: While the first point was about technology in a relatively generic sense, this is is about the application of technology and associated tools in the marketing domain. This is everything from marketing automation to web content management to advertising technology and so many, many more things which will probably make a move towards mainstream in 2014. This very popular image would give you a vastness of this domain. With the kind of data that phenomena like IoT and wearable tech will spew out, and the levels of customisation that customers expect, everyone, across domain would have to at least attempt Amazonian levels of efficiency.  Also, increasingly, technology will help us integrate offline with digital. (example)

We can scream buzzword, but big data exists, and we’re only taking baby steps towards harnessing it. I can already see the first levels of it in social media advertising, where intelligent tools and dashboards allow not just better and real time targeting but also better analytics on everything from planning to attribution, to aid decision making. Extrapolate this to multiple media platforms, devices, delivery channels within each and think of the possibilities. I think the domain will move much faster because of two reasons – one, the fragmentation of marketing channels and the impossibility of managing it with only manpower resources, and two, the marketer’s ROI obsession. To quote Scott Brinker, “software is the new fabric of marketing” I see the ‘big’ in big data moving on two paths simultaneously – qualitatively big that would help in personalisation, and quantitatively big that would help in scaling. (mass customisation for larger audience sets, better targeted)

Agile Marketing: Yes, we have borrowed it from the software development guys. No, it’s not really new, nor is it surprising because if marketing is getting a technology influx, it is only obvious that software processes might be a good way to approach marketing. Everything that I have written above will ensure that by design or not, marketers will increasingly be forced to adopt this methodology as the days of predictable media platforms draw to a close. In a dynamic business environment, where new platforms are popping up regularly, and even known platforms are changing their rules constantly, the only way to cope, let alone thrive, would be to run various simulations continuously,  iterate and develop incrementally, break silos and communicate effectively, and have flexible frameworks that can be more responsive to the speed of the change cycles.  What I hope to see this year – at least at an early stage – are software/tools that are customised to the requirements of marketing. But irrespective of that, get ready to sprint! (read more)

Promotainment: Roughly, the phenomenon formerly known as advertising. Thanks to everything above, creativity will need to be channeled differently. In YouTube’s top trends for 2013, three branded videos managed to capture a place for themselves. But this only covers part of the story. Mere entertainment will not be enough to bond with the consumer, for sufficient pull to happen, brands will have to define a purpose (business and beyond) that will resonate with consumers, and treat it differently according to contexts. These contexts could be platforms, locations, topical opportunities and a host of other things, with each experience adding to the perceptions of the consumer. Experiences and ‘content’ need to be created for each of these contexts, and brands need to reboot the way they handle communication. (The Making of a Content Brand) The other key player in this mix is privacy – everything from transience (eg. Snapchat) to the ‘negotiation’ with consumers on what information they share to get what benefit. Customisation as per contexts and audiences and yet cohesive within the larger purpose framework. Not an easy challenge. (A wonderful take on this, and more from Vyshnavi Doss – Brand Avatars)

Marketing Organisation: I came across the fascinating Big Shift concept and the three ‘waves‘ – foundation, flow and impact – only recently. The third wave is how organisations respond to the fundamental shifts in knowledge and the flow of information that are characteristic of the first two waves. While this is a larger institutional shift, its impact will also felt in the structure of the marketing organisation. Add to this, the transformation required for agile methodologies and a fundamentally different content marketing process, and the existing marketing silos have no choice but to evolve. Technologists, ROI drivers, specialists in different kinds of brand experiences – real time, real (offline) and otherwise, data wizards to analyse the tons of data streaming in, CRM folks, creative people and many more will be part of this new structure that realigns the marketing domain to fit the new business landscape dynamics. (a good illustration)

These subjects, and in my mind, one of its results –  social business – will form the majority of this blog’s content in 2014. We’re at the cusp of an extremely interesting era in brand marketing, thanks to radical shifts in pretty much everything happening around us – what I keep referring to as institutional realignment. Here’s to an exciting year ahead!


 until next time, have a wonderful 2014!

A Brief for Agencies, musician at Black Eyed Peas, and Director of Creative Innovation at Intel, speaking at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Advertising Creativity (to be noted), said, “Ad agencies are yesterday. But ad agencies that can turn consumers into agents that add value to community and life, that’s what it’s about right now.” (via)

A couple of weeks back, I had remarked on the role of agencies in future in the context of brands and curation. I found this post titled ' Why Ad Agencies Should Act More Like Tech Startups' very interesting. The contention was that in these dynamic times, with new services appearing/disappearing faster than ever, the definition of the 'idea' needs to go beyond the traditional creative domains and start looking at technology as a major player, 'leveraging it in creative ways'. Mashable had a post couple of days back on how the advertising industry is preparing for a digital future.

Despite the slice-and-dice that marketing functions have gone through, I still have quite some affection for full service agencies especially if they adapt to changing scenarios and pick up specialised skills and knowledge that would help them tell brand stories better. But I'd agree that understanding not just specific technology, but the landscape itself is indeed something agencies should look at as a priority.

And then I happened to read another post on a blog that I have recently discovered, but is one of my favourites now. The post, titled 50 Secrets Of Blissful Relationships.” target=”_blank”>3 Blind Marketers, (based on the blind men-elephant tale) is on the subject of marketing shifting from the earlier dichotomies of ATL/BTL and analog/digital to the paid, owned and earned media model, and is essentially about how specialists corresponding to each 'silo' have few perspectives outside of it. Later in the article, he makes a case for the full service agency, as succinctly as “When you’re trying to make sense of an elephant in the dark, it helps to have extra hands around.”

I think that the biggest advantage that incumbent agencies can have with a client is trust, and the reason why many clients seem to bring aboard new specialist agencies is because they are losing the trust in their agencies to deliver on those fronts. But what that also means is that if agencies can build and leverage their understanding of the client's brand figure out a platform/domain agnostic process to generate ideas, and find the best ways to execute them from the diverse options that this dynamic era provides, they can still be of much value to the client.

until next time, a case for briefs, but that's a different post :)

Bonus Reads: David Ogilvy on Creating The Ideal Agency Culture

and The future of Advertising Technology (via) (click on image to enlarge)