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Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Future of Marketing at New Comm Forum

Today I will be moderating a panel at the New Communications Forum here in Santa Rosa, California which I'm particularly excited about because it's exactly the kind of juicy broad topic that I think can yield really interesting discussions. Our panel has the open charge to talk about the future of marketing and advertising (doesn't get more broad than that!) and has a great diversity of speakers including Ken Kaplan from Intel (representing brands), Neil Chase from Federated Media (representing publishers and networks) and David Takheim from Six Apart (representing platforms and publishing tools). The composition of the panel should already tell you something about what the future of marketing and advertising may hold ... as I'm probably the one representing the traditional model since I'm from the big agency (ironic considering what I do for a living!)

There are a few big questions on my mind for this panel that I plan to share in our conversation. I don't usually do this, but here are the questions that I predict I will ask during our panel session:

  1. The ongoing tension between PR and advertising silos often comes down the difference in philosophy. In PR, we talk about "earning" media, and in advertising we talk about "buying" media.  In the new world of marketing and advertising, how will we see the balance between earning and buying shift?
  2. Are blogs really the future of media? How important are or should they be in an an overall communications or marketing strategy?
  3. A hot topic in most marketing trades is the shift of dollars to the online and social media space from advertisers. A hot topic in the general media is the consumption behaviour or people shifting. Is one ahead of the other?  If so, do the dollars need to catch up to the audiences, or the audiences need to catch up the dollars?
  4. How important is or will content be to the future of marketing and advertising? This is not about taglines but about actually creating something useful, interesting or entertaining for people to watch or read ... and having that be your marketing message.

For those who have participated in panels with me before, or heard me speak about doing it, you'll know that I have a rule never to walk into a session like this with more than 3 to 5 pre-scripted questions. The reason is that it forces me to pay attention and react to the conversation on stage by coming up with new questions on the spot. In the end, usually the result is a much more interesting panel discussion.

* Full Disclosure - Intel is an Ogilvy client and I work directly with Ken.

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Comments

Rohit,

How did the session go? I am particularly interested in question #4:

How important is or will content be to the future of marketing and advertising? This is not about taglines but about actually creating something useful, interesting or entertaining for people to watch or read ... and having that be your marketing message.

If I had been on your panel (no offense taken), this would have been my answer:

Content is S T I L L King!

Most sites are not suffering from too little traffic. In fact, "Silly Traffic" was the subject of Seth Godin's blog post today ( http://tinyurl.com/6oe7vu ) - a good read. Traffic we have. It's the bounce rate that's killing us. Here's my analysis: we focus on traffic because we struggle to increase conversion, and we really, really struggle to decrease bounce rates (people entering and exiting the same page on a website). Traffic can always be increased.

Well, imagine if you could radically reduce your bounce rate? And, what if you could do it at an extraordinarily low cost? To steal a line from the hit HBO series Entourage, "Is that something you might be interested in?"

About a year ago, my company developed a semantic marketing technology - Semanticator ( http://www.semanticator.com ). It enables our clients to detect the arrival of a visitor matching a key market segment - without the use of cookies, sharing or any of that stuff! Within milliseconds, Semanticator uses up to 1,000 data points to triangulate which, if any market segments, or even personas, a visitor represents.

We do this with a high degree of confidence, and the results have been exciting! Our oldest implementation was launched August 2007. And continues to experience a bounce rate of less than 10% (most sites are in the 35% to 50% range - Seth would probably argue that bounce rates are even higher).

This is not rocket science, even though our technology is patent pending. It's just logical. If you are going to do an email campaign to all of your customers/prospects, you'd probably segment your list and alter subject/content to be more meaningful to each. You've learned to do that because when you don't, response rates drop. The same principle is at work here. If you make the home page or landing page more relevant, more people are going to stick around, explore and convert.

To abandon the one-size-fits-all home page approach that is ubiquitous on the Web, means work! You will have to prepare content for each key market segment, but based on our findings - if you want to increase conversion, that's what it's going to take.

So, yes content is going to be exceedingly important to the future of marketing!

I would love to be a part of your personality project. Our company is focused on identifying, helping and building customer experiences that will resonate with customers.

Rohit. Thank you! I really enjoyed the panel and the chance to talk with David and Neil.

There were some good examples and great questions from the audience. I particularly liked the question about resources -- money, but also people power put in the right places to work their magic for their brand.

Here's the post panel video interview we shot in the lobby -- what a gorgeous day -- http://tinyurl.com/6gxl8t

And I really enjoyed getting to meet Tim Ferriss and see the brainsparks flying between you. Here's a cool photo of your two in San Francisco http://tinyurl.com/4bgqcb.

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