The Connected Agency

Connected_agencyForrester published a piece yesterday that takes a hard look at the future of advertising agencies.  It’s what used to be called, in Forrester parlance, a "Big Idea," i.e. a concept not necessarily in practice today, but best practices looking 5 to 10 years out and beyond.  (The first Big Idea I wrote was called Reinventing the Marketing Organization.)

The executive summary of the research:

Today’s agencies fail to help marketers engage with consumers, who, as
a result, are becoming less brand-loyal and more trusting of each
other. To turn the tide, marketers will move to the Connected Agency —
one that shifts: from making messages to nurturing consumer
connections; from delivering push to creating pull interactions; and
from orchestrating campaigns to facilitating conversations. Over the
next five years, traditional agencies will make this shift; they will
start by connecting with consumer communities and will eventually
become an integral part of them.

Clients can access the report directly.  After you’ve read the report, we welcome your comments here and/or on the site.

What’s wrong with mobile marketing

I spent the day in New York at the OMMA Mobile conference.  As I’ve blogged before, I’ve started covering mobile marketing and advertising as part of my day job.  But 2008 isn’t going to be the year that mobile makes it big – and the longer recession looms over us, the longer mobile’s emergence will be delayed. 

However, I’m just starting my research so I’m building up to identify how to make mobile marketing work now and in the future.  Today, there were some very smart minds sharing their thoughts – I’ll share their reasons why mobile isn’t prime time yet.   My biggest takeaway: mobile marketing has lots of potential, but is currently trapped in an immature adolescence, at best.  Sure, we’ve started to notice mobile – deeper voice, more curves, whatever – but this thing ain’t ready to drive a car, vote, or drink a beer yet.

If you want to know why, here’s what I heard today:

From Evan Neufeld of m:metrics: "what is driving us forward and holding us back"

  1. Pricing:  consumers are getting nickled and dimed to death for data.
  2. Devices:  need better devices to spur usage.
  3. Bandwidth:  consumers want to drink from the hose.
  4. Subsidization: Largest audiences for text messaging, a low value ad play.

From Jeremy Wright of Nokia, formerly of Enpocket.  "Why isn’t mobile advertising bigger today?"

  1. Fragmentation.  Buyers say it’s hard to make a deal.
  2. Measurable ROI.  Reporting isn’t great.
  3. Engagement post-click.  Lack of ecosystem partners and campaign integration.

From David Verklin, CEO of Aegis Media Americas.  "The biggest barrier to mobile advertising."

  • Speed.  2.5G isn’t fast enough.
  • But most marketers don’t even know what we’re talking about, 2.5G, 3G and so on.
  • We need to use mass media to drive people to concentrated places, i.e. from TV to web.

Manish Jha, CEO of Vantrix (and formerly of ESPN Mobile).

  • His company deals with interoperability issues – they have a database of 13,000 phone types.  Think about it.  You may have enough of a headache building your website for PC and Mac.  Or just on PC, for IE and Firefox.  Or just in IE, 6 vs. 7.  Think that’s bad?  Try 13,000 phones.

Verklin actually came out and said it:  2008 isn’t the year of mobile.  2009 is.

What that means is you should be preparing yourself now for mobile, just like you did with social media – by experimenting.  Upgrade your mobile plan to include data.  Text in a vote to American Idol (in a few weeks) or submit a code to My Coke Rewards.  Visit ESPN mobile and notice the banner ads.

(Naturally, the flip side of this is how to mobile marketing work, which will be covered in an upcoming piece of research.)

Mobile insights from Finland

As I’ve mentioned before, my research coverage has shifted to include mobile marketing.  I spent the past week with Nokia in Espoo and picked up some interesting insights from our interactions.

You may know that Nokia’s origins come from the wood pulp, rubber, and cable industries.  You may not know that just a decade ago, mobile was only 5% of the company’s business mix.  Today they’ve become the world’s largest volume handset manufacturer, with over 112,000 employees.  Reminds me of IBM’s shift to services – fascinating case in refocusing a business.

In 2007, there were over 3 billion people on mobile networks – over half the world’s population.  Nokia projects this number will increase to 5 billion in 2015, but with a 100-fold increase in network traffic.  That’s a quite different world than today and not that far away.  Mobile marketing may not be prime time today, but it will be.

Last year, Nokia launched a special Arabian-African edition phone.  It was made in special colors with seven preloaded Ramadan-related applications, e.g. Qibla direction indicator and Hijri calendar.  Reminds me of the limited edition SMUs from Nike and adidas – this is a tactic that could be applied to many brands in many markets.

Speaking of devices, Nokia has the ability to put 7 megapixel cameras in their phones, but hasn’t.  Why?  Customer experience – a 7MP camera would create greater latency in the imaging chain.  So they’ve gone with a max 5 MP to optimize the experience.  I think it works pretty well; last year, I borrowed a N73 with 3.2 MP camera that was pretty good, much better than my 1.3 MP Blackberry.  I’m currently borrowing a N95 8GB which has 5 MP and built-in GPS for geotagging – which delivers images like the one at the top of this post.  Not bad.

I heard about a service called Twango for the first time.  It combines a lot of different features from the sites you use today – social networking, picture sharing, file sharing, messaging.  Twango’s ability to let you set varying permission levels for group and individual access are far more granular than most sites today.

Thinking through Nokia’s focus on consumer internet services – they’ve got gaming, lifeblogging, social networks, maps, and music – they seem to be the only device manufacturer with such a broad focus.  Microsoft, Apple and Google play here as well, but none have the same global device presence.  Others like Motorola, LG, and Samsung aren’t getting into services as far as I can tell.

Do you remember the story of Crown, Cork and Seal?  At one point in its evolution, the company mapped out the market in a 2×2 and saw a big empty space in the upper right.  But the lesson learned was that sometimes a white space doesn’t mean market opportunity – it may mean that the canary has stopped singing.

What are your thoughts on manufacturer as service provider?  Is Nokia ahead of the game, just difficult to see from a U.S.-biased lens?  Or is this direction doomed?

Anticipating Super Bowl XLII Ads

Despite the record prices for Super Bowl XLII spots, I just haven’t been able to get into the hype.  Why?  Because I care more about the Patriots finishing 19-0.  And if you recall what happened with last year’s ads, I’m telling you that not much is going to change.

  • Consumer Generated Ads – looks like just Doritos this time around.  It won’t be much better than the rest.
  • Integrated marketing – another big miss.  GoDaddy will be the only advertiser that maximizes the drive to web.  Makes sense, they’re 100% online. will try.  They’ll bomb on this one like everyone else.
  • Impossible vanity URLs.  You can’t drive people to web if they can’t remember your 22-letter, 3-word address.  Keep it simple, stupid!
  • Guerilla search ads.  Cheap and easy but underutilized again.

If you want to start drafting your post-game wrap up, use this cheat sheet.  Fox has already won.  The Pats are 13.5 point favorites.  We’ll see which advertisers come out winners as well.

UPDATE:  If you’re looking for this year’s Super Bowl commercials, they should all be available on MySpace shortly.

How individuals use Twitter

As I’ve spent more time on Twitter, the way I use the site/service has changed.  A part of that is becoming familiar with features and functionality, as well as assimilating changes as they occur, e.g. tracking.  But by far the biggest factor that has changed the way I think about Twitter involves the number of people I’m following.  Moving from a handful of following/followers to over 400 has shifted the way I use Twitter – primarily how I use different platforms.  I think this is an experience that others have experienced as well.

Jeremiah took a poll recently that showed most people using web, many people using a client app, and some using mobile.  I think if tracked, platform usage correlates with account tenure.  Most newbies start out on the web.  If they stick with it and discover enough engaging conversation, people get "serious" a.k.a. "addicted" and install an app like Twitterific or Snitter.

But once the novelty wears off – the brightness and shininess, if you will – what then?

The answer’s simple – find *real* value in the service or go dark.  Here’s how I see some ways that individuals appear to be finding value (not mutually exclusive):

  • Referrals.  I’ve seen more and more people talking about how Twitter drives people to their sites.
  • Community.  A place where conversations around common interests pop up quite often, e.g. around social media or during sporting events.
  • Commerce.  Companies like Dell, JetBlue, and 71Miles give early notice on great deals.
  • Entertainment.  I was surprised to see a string of sexually explicit tweets last week, a user who was literally involved in a sex chat.  (I unfollowed him.)  In a less salacious application, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a game of D&D pop up.
  • Information/Research.  I got five replies with to a tweet while showing Twitter to a client.  See the reference to Jeremiah’s poll above.
  • Serendipity.  When you’ve got a ton of followers, sometimes it’s like watching the matrix to see if you stumble across something delightful.

As more people get on Twitter, the ecosystem evolves and matures, while the "rules" bend and get broken.  The bad news for marketers is a lesson straight from Second Life – just having an account isn’t enough; success requires engagement.  Will the next lesson for Twitter itself be from Facebook – if and when the day to monetize arrives?

[BTW I’m tweeting here.]

Hello Brandweek readers!

If you’ve arrived here after reading my short piece in Brandweek, welcome!

Here’s a quick guide to some of the most popular content here over the past year.

From my feed:

On the site:

Speaking of Twitter, here I am.  Again, welcome!

Being Peter Kim in 2007

Thanks for allowing me to share thoughts with you this past year.

I was quite fortunate to be invited by many clients, organizations, and associations to meet in person and discuss marketing and strategy.  I’m not a great photographer; however, I threw together a small scrapbook of stuff I saw this year that you might like.

Looking back, one of my favorite things about 2007: meeting so many social media people in person, some for the first time, others just in a long time:  David Armano. Jonny Bentwood. Rohit Bhargava. Pete BlackshawToby Bloomberg. Chris Brogan. Blake Cahill. CC Chapman. David Churbuck. Henry Copeland. Michael Donnelly. John Eckman. Richard Edelman. Maxine Friedman. Josh Hallett. Ann Handley. Joseph Jaffe. Jeff Jarvis. Max Kalehoff. Karl Long. Owen Mack and Jesse Buckley. Amanda Mooney. Rick Murray. Jeremiah Owyang (now a colleague). Jeremy Pepper. Marianne Richmond. Julia Roy. Steve Rubel. Deb Schultz. Dan Schwabel. Aki Spicer. Mike SpataroIlya Vedrashko. Greg Verdino.  (Sincere apologies if I missed you in the shout outs here.) 

Looking forward, 2008 may fly by even faster than this year, hard to believe.  I’m shifting my research coverage at Forrester to focus on mobile marketing, blogging, and building interactive skills/z.  More on that in the weeks to come.

Thanks again for the conversation.  I’m happy to share with you in Flickr, Twitter, Dopplr, and Facebook as well.

“I just don’t get it.” [i.e. Twitter]

Twitter Logo

When I talk about Twitter to corporate audiences, a very common reaction is "I just don’t get it."  Hence, the post title.

If you want to learn more about microblogging check out this report (client access only).

Our data shows that 6% of US online adults use Twitter regularly.

If you want to reach an affluent, well educated, and early adopter audience, there might not be a better communication channel out there.

BTW each line in this message is < 140 characters.

@forrester is on Twitter, as are many individual analysts like @peterkim, @jowyang, @charleneli, @birdahonk, @sureshvittal, @carriejohnson, @SFOSkyGod, and @jbernoff.

feed the bird
UPDATE: Many people – namely Robert Scoble – believe that 6% is way too high.  Here’s related information from Cynthia. For those interested in the methodology, you can read more about it here.  The specific question that survey respondents saw: "There are also more general activities you can do on the Internet. How frequently do you do each of the following activities? (Select one for each row)"  and "Use Twitter" was one of 11 options, with the frequency choices of "at least daily," "weekly," "monthly," "less than monthly," and "never."

A researcher on my team tells me the number is corroborated from data from another survey as well.  It isn’t drawn from Nielsen//NetRatings, which has its own methodology.  While researching, I did d biz and email pownce, but neither responded.

It’s fun to talk about whether 6% is BS or not, just like it’s fun to watch traffic spike when one gets Scobelized.  To move that part of the discussion forward, I’d like to hear from people who have facts and data to refute the figure, not just feelings.  [But I do care about your feelings – deeply. 🙂 ]

IMO the number isn’t critical to the report’s premise; more importantly, I explain why brands should pay attention to a small percent of online activity and how microblogging fits into social computing strategy.

Consumers Don’t Trust Advertising

Buzzmetrics_bamMax Kalehoff points out a Nielsen Buzzmetrics brand association map outlining terms associated with advertising in blog chatter.   The "inner circle" represents most frequent terms, grouped into four categories:

  • Media:  commercials, ads (makes sense)
  • Stakeholders:  marketers (naturally)
  • Campaigns:  dollars, revenue (ok…)
  • Negative associations:  false, misleading (uh oh)

This mirrors Forrester’s data that only 6% of North American consumers agree with the statement "Companies generally tell the truth in advertising."

Interesting stuff.

Some thoughts on time spent vs. page views

As you probably know, last week Nielsen//NetRatings added "total minutes" and "total sessions" to their site measurement.  But reports of the page view’s demise are greatly exaggerated.  Or at least they should be.  Here are two reasons why:

1. Critics claim that sites are designed to goose page views, adding extraneous clicks on the way to fulfilling user goals.  Well, SEO has always been a grey hat discipline.  This could be a huge setback for site usability:  the more a site confuses visitors and obfuscates desired content, the "better" those sites perform.

2. Different sites have different purposes.  It’s like investing – two stocks may have the same price but totally different fundamentals; you might like one for the dividend and another for the growth potential.  Total minutes and sessions make sense for content/media sites, e.g. AOL or YouTube.  Page views still make sense for "utility" sites, e.g. Google Search.  And for e-commerce sites, neither of these matter as sales metrics like conversion rate.

What’s the purpose of engagement?  To make money.  Yes, we build brands to create favorable thoughts in consumer minds and make good on our promises through customer experience.  And we hope that over time, people buy more stuff from us and tell their friends about how great we are.  Thus in my opinion, the only reason for a new "engagement" metric is whether you convinced someone to buy something.  Otherwise, we’ve got some good ideas out there already, like brand recall and recognition or click-through and conversion rate.

The lesson here is that advertisers need to have their act together when it comes to metrics.  If you’re selling ads on your own site – you should know what the optimum balance of page views and time spent are for each persona.  If you’re an advertiser, you should know the role that sites play in the customer experience (brand building?  direct response?)  and buy on the appropriate metrics.

From another perspective – if I’m on ur site, ignoring ur ads…then what?  In the long run, cost per action and other performance-based metrics are the only ones that matter.

Being: Peter Kim