Digital Ad Spend Grows But What About the Investment?

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When I look at infographics, I am looking not just at the facts and figures (boring) – I am looking a the underlying story. I want to understand what is taking place behind the numbers. I seek insight and connection between the sources of information, the behaviours of the industry and opportunities for the future.

So this infographic from Invesp, fired up my neurones.

Summarising the state of play for the digital advertising industry globally, it shows just how dominant Google remains in the face of challenges from social networks. A staggering 42.6% of ad spending finds its way into the search giant’s coffers, while Facebook, Yahoo! and Microsoft duke it out for less than half of that combined.

From an industry point of view, growth in digital advertising indicates a certain level of health. It shows that digital has firmly moved out of the experimental mode and is now a core part of a marketer’s arsenal. But it also raises significant questions – after all, if spending is increasing, are we also seeing a rise in investment? And by investment I mean:

  • Evaluating and implementing marketing platforms and technologies: Pumping more budget into digital is going to also shift the focus towards digital engagement. After all, a digital call to action can result in a click, a download, a sale and so on … and if that is the case, what investments are marketers making in terms of marketing platforms and systems of engagement? Which platforms are you evaluating for marketing automation or social media management? How are you tracking conversion, monitoring the velocity of online conversation and improving rates of conversion? CMOs should evaluate their marketing processes and look for automation opportunities.
  • Building the capacity and experience of your teams: The digital marketing skills gap continues to widen. For decades, marketers have been forced to do more with less – and now as the demand for digital skills accelerates, many CMOs find themselves responsible for teams who have transitioned from into “digital” from more “traditional” marketing fields. This has resulted in teams with limited or poor digital experience, basic skills and little time to build capacity. CMOs should carry out a Digital Skills Audit as a matter of priority.
  • Investing in customer engagement strategy: Much of our marketing strategy is built around maximising the value of channels. It’s time to stop this nonsense. We need to map customer journeys and then invest in engagement that adds value to the customer experience at key “moments of truth”. This means stepping away from the channel. Even if that channel is “digital first”. 

Have your say

What have I missed? What have I mis-read? What else needs to be improved?

digital-ad-spending

Is Facebook the New Las Vegas?

The Way to the Penthouse

You know how it goes at the international airport check-in counter.

  1. Greet customer: “Hello sir”
  2. Determine destination: “Where are you travelling to today?”
  3. Check passport, print boarding pass etc

It’s all pretty functional.

From time to time, there might be some off-script personality sneaking through, but it’s rare. Unless you are travelling to Vegas.

When I checked-in for my first ever trip to Las Vegas, the routine started as usual. But when we got to point 2 – and I explained where I was heading, the woman stopped and looked up.

Her eyes glistened and she smiled. She nodded and just said, “Veeeegaas”.

It was at this point that I knew that there was something special in store. The thing is, Vegas is a place whose story precedes it. It is a place where stories are born and where we can become wrapped in a story beyond our imaginings in the blink of a showgirl’s eye.

Now, it used to be said that what goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas. But that was “back in the day” – which in Gen Y speak means about 2009. It was a time when being in a city in the middle of a desert afforded a certain isolation. It was a time before my nanna was on Facebook. And now, as we all know, what goes on in Vegas, lives forever on Facebook. Or Google. Or the computers in the NSA’s secret PRISM data centre.

And this means that the stories that are the lifeblood that is “Veeeegaas” … are no longer contained. Furthermore, those stories are amplified, hyper-real simulacra flashed across a variety of digital networks in multi-format content from pictures on Instagram to collections on Pinterest and videos on Vine and YouTube to collections on Storify.

But just as Vegas transformed itself from family destination to adult playground, it seems that Facebook too is experiencing this kind of shift. With teens and young adults starting feeling Facebook fatigue and dropping away from the social network, it’s leaving a hard core adult population to connect, share and engage. And with a revitalised MySpace and a plethora of low demand/high impact alternatives like Instagram and SnapChat it may well be that Facebook enters a new era of adult-focused engagement.

Perhaps.

But which ever way that dice rolls, one thing is for certain. Before posting a new photo to Facebook, ask yourself the hard question. Should I?

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Hands-on Guide to Social Media Channel Selection

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I have always been a fan of the CMO.com guide to channel selection. Each year for the last few years, the CMO.com folks have put together a handy guide that explains exactly how each of the main social media channels can be best used.

This year, rather than producing an infographic (as in previous years), the guide has become interactive.

You simply select a social network and mouse over the various good, ok and bad options to learn more about how they can be used effectively.

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Unfortunately, the guide only covers Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and YouTube. Which is a shame, as marketers seeking to put their content to work are likely to find niche social networks will deliver more bang for the buck. However, if you just want to validate your tactics and share that with your boss, this hands-on guide to social media channel selection may be just what you need to share internally.

Logos and the Psychology of Colour

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In the process of building new brands, there are three steps that I love:

  1. Naming: The naming of your new brand can be fraught – but should be fun. Coming up with a name that is descriptive enough for your customers but imaginative enough to draw them in can take far longer than you can imagine. Then once you have a name, securing and registering it can take time and more than a little money. There are some agencies dedicated to naming, and if you have a big budget it would be fabulous to work with them … but if you’re running a startup, chances are you’ll be doing the naming over a few beers with your mates. Be sure to think through the various combinations of the name and how it will be used. After all, you don’t want to follow the example of promo pen company Pen Island.
  2. Planning: No surprise here – but I get quite a kick out of the planning process. From building out the communications architecture through to building out the business case, planning is an important step for any startup. You’ll be amazed what you can learn in a couple of days – and the research and analysis (not to mention the discipline) will hold you in good stead as you start to seek funding and build your core team.
  3. Visual design: Most people think that branding is about logos. A logo is just part of the branding process … but it does need to be given time and attention. And budget always helps. Even if you have budget, it still helps greatly to provide a solid brief to your designer – which is where your planning will help. Make sure you share your research and thinking – explain the various use cases and audiences that your new business will impact. Provide a list of “attributes” that describe your brand. Be clear about the vision you have for the future of your brand. All this information should soak into the appearance of your logo and the visual design of your band.

Now that you have a name, some understanding of the potential of your business and some ideas for your logo, take that list of attributes and find them in the list in this infographic from MuseDesign. Pay special attention to other logos that you see and that you admire. Think about how they are using colour to engage you emotionally. What can you learn from great logos? Which designs make your heart jump?

After all, if you want your brand to be memorable, you’ll need all the branding help you can get.

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Organic Search Remains King in B2B

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If you are looking for marketing advice, you don’t need to look very far. There are literally hundreds of marketing blogs, websites and platform vendors who offer up various levels of expertise and advice. So no matter whether you are an enterprise marketer or running your own business, you’ll easily find some ideas, strategies and systems that will help you activate your plans. BUT the question remains – with an abundance of information, who do you trust?

It’s often tempting to look beyond your usual marketing consultants or agencies for new ideas. But facts can be skewed or reported from a number of angles, and the grass really can appear greener when pitched the right way.

The challenge for marketers is to look beyond the facts and figures to understand the shifts and movements that are taking place. We need to look for the underlying behaviours that explain the facts and map this to our own businesses in a meaningful way.

Now, I have believed for some time that quality content is a fundamental requirement for successful marketing programs. But in the shift to digital, this need has been amplified – after all, we are know for what we produce. No content = no presence.

So in many ways this infographic from inbound marketing platform vendor Optify confirms my thinking – that organic search (and therefore content) is the most powerful driver of traffic to B2B websites. They analysed 62 million website visits, 215 million page views and over 350,000 leads from small and mid-sized US businesses to identify the trends in B2B marketing in 2012.

BUT the question remains? Does this ring true for your business? Does it match to your experience? And what are the movements that you are observing in your customer base? That’s where you should be looking.


2012 B2B Marketing Trends

Funnel Conversion: Make it About Your Customers

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It’s one thing to have a marketing insight, but quite another to do something valuable with it.

Living as we do with an abundance of data, what marketers increasingly need is a way to filter the information, distil it for insight and apply their business and brand knowledge in a way that creates value for both the business and their customers.

But where do you start?

Eloqua has compiled 40 infographics covering a swathe of marketing disciples from the back office to the front of house. There are charts on analytics and marketing automation, social media, email marketing and lead management.

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Armed with this data:

  • Consider your own marketing challenge
  • Find a chart that speaks to your problem
  • Compare and contrast the chart data to what you know about your business

Now … think about how you can close the gap or solve your challenge. Do you need help? Resources? Budget? What can you do within the next three weeks and what can be delayed until 2013?

STOP.

All this makes perfect sense. But before progressing, consider how this plays out with customer experience in mind. Which of your priorities also provide wins for your customers? What does it mean to recast your efforts through the lens of the customer?

With an abundance of data we can easily lose sight of our customers. Marketers must continue to maintain focus not on their marketing processes but on the constantly changing customer landscape. If you aren’t focusing on your customers, rest assured your competitors are.

Men … How Dense Are You?

While osteoporosis more frequently affects women than men, men with hip fractures have a mortality rate two-to-three times higher than women.

And as 30-to-40 per cent of fractures due to osteoporosis occur in men, it’s clearly an issue that men should be (cough) seeing their doctors about. The only way men can find out if they are at risk of osteoporosis is to have a bone density scan – which, yes, sounds like a visit to the doctor.

Rather than searching Dr Google, Osteoporosis Australia have created a simple test to help you find out whether you are at risk. You can take the test at HowDenseAreYou.org.au

Just do it –> remember early detection of low bone density can prevent osteoporosis.

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The Common Sense of Social Media

Are you old enough to remember the people who ran the corner shop? Do you even remember a time when there WAS a corner shop?

What about a milk man? Or a baker who home delivered?

These were people who knew your name. They knew where you lived. Their kids went to school with your kids. It was a time when communities weren’t something you engaged with online – it was something you lived in.

And yet for all the change that the shift to digital has landed on our shoulders – social media feels nostalgically utopian. It’s optimistic – often in the face of trolling behaviour and barely concealed bigotry. But it is also FAMILIAR.

In real world communities we long ago learned how to deal with unacceptable behaviour – and yet we seem to forget this in the digital domain. But if social media teaches us anything it is that we are accountable for our words and our deeds – for with every click, like comment and update, we leave a trail of digital breadcrumbs that lead us (and others) home.

In the corporate world, our employees traverse the web like modern day, digital Hansels. There are breadcrumb trails emblazoned across the webservers of the world. Your brands, products and services trail along in the wake of the words and deeds of your employees.

Once upon a time, the shopkeepers knew where their customers lived. These days it is the other way around. Social media has turned the outside world-in and the inside world-out. And yet many organisations are hopelessly unprepared for the digital world that is already upon them. As this infographic from Mindflash shows, 76% of companies do not have a clearly defined social media policy.

The solution is simple. Get help from the outside and build capacity inside. It’s not a fairy tale and there’s no silver bullet. It’s just common sense in the service of the common good.

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CMO to CIO – It’s Time We Talked

When we crowdsourced the first The Age of Conversation book back in 2008, the idea of working from the outside-in was untested. Over 100 marketing innovators from 15 countries shared their thoughts and early experiences and Drew McLellan and I produced a book that would go on to create a community, showcase the early adopters and leading social media practitioners and ultimately raise around $50,000 for charity.

People like David Berkowitz wrote about participation and its ephemeral nature in a connected world. Toby Bloomberg peered into the future, suggesting that business was personal and that technology is fueling emotional engagement. And Katie Chatfield told brands to prepare themselves for a party.

Several years on, however, how many brands are ready to party? How many can scale their digital interactions into some form of customer engagement? And how many are prepared to turn conversations into something more than a link or a like?

As this infographic from Socialcast shows, many businesses continue to restrict access to social media in the workplace. At the same time, social marketing agency Awareness suggests that better customer engagement was a top business objective for social media.

  • Social Media Governance a Major Concern for CIOs: The gap between the business objectives and needs of two vital organisational units – technology and marketing appear at odds. Robert Half Technology’s survey of 1400 CIOs indicates that governance concerns are high on the CIO agenda – citing security, legal liability and bandwidth as reasons for blocking social media.
  • Social Media Generates Productivity and Creativity Payoffs: The “micro breaks” offered by social media may actually increase productivity. But this pales into insignificance against the business value of bringing the outside-in. A recent McKinsey Global Institute report suggests that cross-enterprise collaboration is estimated to unlock in excess of $900 billion across four industries.
  • CMO to CIO – Let’s Talk Timing: The competing needs of the CMO and CIO are often seen through the lens of conflict. Customer demands and revenue expectations drive a marketing agenda while risk management, compliance and governance occupy the minds of the CIO. Yet, the opportunity for collaboration exists. CMOs need to understand the challenges of governance and technology and CIOs need exposure to the “front office”. The answer lies in planning and timing. And having the right conversation.

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Don’t Like Me – Hire Me: Recruiting Goes Social

The 2012 Jobvite Social Recruiting Survey reports that 92% of US companies have used social media to identify talent and potential employees. The survey also indicates that 43% of companies using social recruiting have seen an increase in candidate quality – with 73% successfully hiring.

Increasingly this means that personal brands and employer brands are colliding online – well before an interview or conversation takes place. This will impact both the employer and the individual job seeker in positive and challenging ways – with all having to come to grips with the potential and impact of digital marketing as the global economy recovers and the war for talent resumes.

Social Networks Are the Place Where Personal and Employer Brands Meet

In a crowded market it can be a struggle to stand out. On the one hand job seekers compete for the attention of leading businesses and promising startups; and on the other, employers strive to identify and source those with the talent, skills and cultural alignment to succeed within their business.

Increasingly, social networks are the space where personal brand and employer brands meet – bridging skills and geographies through business opportunity.

  • LinkedIn allows individuals to create profiles and companies to create pages, join groups, advertise events, jobs and corporate information. It has over 150 million individual profiles and more than 2.6 million company pages
  • Xing is the European focused equivalent of LinkedIn with over 7 million profiles
  • BranchOut uses the Facebook Open Graph to bring a professional and skill based layer to the most social of social networks
  • Ushi is a Chinese invitation-only business social network and focuses its membership on executive and senior professionals
  • Tianji has 12 million members and connects China’s white collar professionals and entrepreneurs
  • Niche professional networks abound, offering very focused connection based networks by industry, role or even age and experience

Finding the signal in the noise on any of these networks can be a challenge for employers and individuals alike.

Individuals Turn to the 4 BEs and Employers Respond

Even when there is a war on talent – when the demand for the best and brightest workers outstrips the supply, the sheer volume of names, profiles, links and data can prove disconcerting. And for those individuals seeking new career challenges and opportunities, it’s no longer good enough to prepare and send a CV in response to an advertisement – job seekers need to use the 4 BEs of Social Discovery:

  1. Be found: Without some form of digital profile, individuals will struggle to compete with the more digital-savvy. A LinkedIn profile is a minimal starting point but can be easily augmented through simple online publishing tools like about.me
  2. Be known: Individuals are increasingly using digital publishing platforms to showcase their skills, experience and networks. Employers are scouring this information to verify career facts and experience of candidates
  3. Be trusted: It’s not just what you know – it’s who you are connected to. Reputation is an essential component for both the job seeker and the employer. This goes beyond the simplistic recommendations on LinkedIn – employers are seeking overlaps in networks to create verifiable profiles of candidates
  4. Be successful: Reputation is also about delivery. What are the personal case studies that individuals can publish or link to? What are the outcomes and learnings that can be identified and how does this match against other profile and career data. Employers are seeking a broader understanding of candidates – information that goes beyond the facts and figures and provides a sense of “character” and “personality” (for which social media is imminently suited)

4-BEsPersonal Branding Meets Talent Sourcing

Proactive job seekers are seeking out, following and engaging prospective employers across social networks – but the reverse is also true. Those businesses who require highly specialized skills and expertise are identifying and tracking candidates across their careers. Talent sourcers are employing ever more sophisticated techniques and technologies to accelerate their discovery process.

Vendors have already begun bringing technology to bear against this challenge. Yvette Cameron suggests that Oracle’s new Social Relationship Management suite will bridge personal social and enterprise data to great effect in the coming 12-18 months; and that we should expect similar announcements to come from Salesforce during the annual Dreamforce event.

Social Technologies Disrupting the Workplace Silo

Today’s workers expect that social and mobile technologies will not only be available within the enterprise – but that they will be used to in ways that will empower them and improve productivity. Business leaders have been challenged to justify investment and to trace the value proposition involved. Social technologies and the business rigor that they provide may well provide not only the disruption required to create value within the enterprise – they may well create the future of work – and that’s where personal and employer brands may find their perfect match.

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