Who would have thought that a forum on marketing would have so much discussion about data, research and analytics? So it was at the recent Future of Marketing Forum by Neustar. Steven Wolfe Pereira, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Neustar, painted a dire picture of the state of marketing in his conference introduction. "Over trillion dollars is currently spent in marketing but many companies experienced revenue decline," he began. "The medium tenure for a CMO is now down from 33 to 27 months. This is not a lot of time to achieve impact." And, he continued, "There are challenges from bots, to fraud to even hurricanes. Is this the end of marketing as we know it?"
Here is where marketing is going:
Preparing Content for Sales
There is an increasing viewer backlash to ad loads. Suzanne Vranica, advertising editor at the Wall Street Journal, called it the "rise of anti-advertising" where "ad blocking has become a problem." The answer may be to reduce the ad load. But how does that impact revenue?
Donna Speciale, President of Ad Sales at Turner, explained why her company made it a strategy to reduce the ad loads on their networks. "We are focusing on the consumer," she stated. "Viewer behavior is changing. So, reducing ad loads for us was part of the equation. The messaging has to change and storytelling within pods had to change. We wanted to make the experience better." The reduced ad load with truTV had "a huge upside with ratings," and revenue-wise the network "made more money," she added.
Brands need to reinforce their connection to their customer. But how can they best do that in the cacophony of platform and content choices? Some companies like HBO have a business model based on opt-in subscriptions and a brand promise that has withstood the test of time. "We deliver an experience that is specific and on brand," said Lucinda Martinez, Senior Vice President, Multicultural and International Marketing, HBO. "We market to a multicultural audience and we are really careful about designing the campaign." It is all about storytelling at HBO where content is designed so that "the story is bigger than the characters," she added.
To insure the connection between content, audience and branding, companies have to have inner connection. At HBO, department silos have been broken down between marketing and the creators. "We sit in same room as creators so we know when the plot surprise is coming," Martinez revealed. "In this way, marketing messages can be released to coincide with program climaxes that can come in the middle of the series' run. This can create more watercooler moments."
Messaging and Bots
Challenges to marketing and branding seem to abound, and it is vital that marketers keep up with change. "The stakes are high in the messaging wars, but messaging will not be a winner-take-all," said Michael J. Wolf, Founder and Partner, Activate. "The battle will be fought by bots. People will get more comfortable using chat bots and integrating into their purchasing and personal lives." What this means is an evolution to more sophisticated AI, easier discovery tools, better payment integration and greater cross-platform portability.
The Future of Marketing
The future is a more connected world where there will continue to be great opportunities and vexing challenges. The secret to success is, as Pereira concluded, to get back to basics with a twist. It's still product, price, promotion and place, in a radically transformed way. "Product becomes all about experience, price becomes the exchange of value, promotion becomes evangelists and place becomes everywhere," he explained. "We need to focus on the things that matter."
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