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Social Brands: The Future of Marketing

We Are Social

A very smart ebook was produced by the team at We Are Social (a social agency) to talk about how brands need to become social businesses. This ebook is a fantastic read for all. Below is a quick summary from their site, as well as a link to download the full ebook. Our clients are going through this revolution to become social businesses… what more can we do to help?  / Colin Browning, Director, Social Media Marketing Services at IDG

Social Brands: The Future of Marketing
Social brands aren’t just brands with a social media presence; they’re brands that put social thinking at the heart of all their marketing.

They’re brands that are social, not just brands that do social.

They’re brands that always strive to be worth talking about.

But how can marketers actually build a brand worth talking about?

Building a Social Brand
This is the topic we explore in “Social Brands: The Future of Marketing“, our in-depth eBook that explains how to put social thinking at the heart of yourbrand.

You can download the complete book by clicking here, but here’s a quick overview to get you started:

1. Social equity drives brand equity
The brands that drive the most favourable conversations are the brands that can command the greatest and most enduring price premiums.

01 Everything should drive conversation 500x374 Social Brands: The Future of Marketing

2. Communities have more value than platforms
Marketers need to use new technologies to add new kinds of value; not just to interrupt people in new ways with new kinds of advertising.

3. All marketing must add value
When it comes to people’s attention, interest and engagement, your brand isn’t competing with your competitors – it’s competing with everything that really matters to people. Marketing that doesn’t add value will simply be ignored.

4. Go mobile or stand still
Mobile devices are already vital to half the world’s population. Very soon, if you’re not bringing your strategy to life on a mobile, it’ll never come to life at all.

02 Todays media reality 500x374 Social Brands: The Future of Marketing

5. The rise of the comms leitmotif
Now that marketers are no longer constrained by the crippling costs of broadcast media, we don’t need to distill all our communications down into lowest common denominator messaging. We can tell more complex – and more engaging – brand stories that evolve over time and across channels.

6. From selective hearing to active listening
Social media monitoring isn’t just about post-campaign reporting; the real value lies in listening to the organic conversations of the people that matter to you, and using these insights to develop richer, more tailored strategies.

06 Social listening can add value everywhere 500x374 Social Brands: The Future of Marketing

7. Experiences are the new products
Product differentiation is no longer enough to ensure lasting success; brands need to deliver a more holistic set of emotional and functional benefits that engage people’s hearts as well as their heads.

8. Civic-minded brands are best placed to succeed
Society increasingly expects brands to give back at least as much as they take. As a result, marketers’ concept of CSR needs to evolve away from one of mere guilt relief. We need to see CSR as an opportunity, and use resources to build and nurture communities where people will welcome brands’ presence and participation.

07 Rethinking the concept of brand value 500x374 Social Brands: The Future of Marketing

B2B Marketing: Where Are We Now?

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 B2B Marketing: Where Are We Now?

Often, the more you read, hear and write a word the less it begins to mean. Its cadence and calligraphy repeated ad infinitum become little more than shapes and white noise. The word ‘digital’ has dogged the marketing profession for the last few years, used in every event, article and plan to complete exhaustion. However despite its repetition, it seems we’re still only just unpacking what ‘digital’ will mean for the B2B marketing community. In fact, according to the 2014 Marketing Perspectives report, 9 out of 10 marketers believe the digital revolution is still gearing up – when it’s actually already here.

Over the next year marketers expect to see even more disruption from a younger generation, completely at home with on-demand technology, dominating the buying market. This disruption will grant even more power to those making purchase decisions as they obtain more information and make more knowledgeable choices. This empowered consumer is set against the challenge of an increasingly fragmented audience as the volume of marketing channels continues to grow.

However, there are two sides to the digital coin and this proliferation of channels and digitally savvy consumers provides marketers with an unprecedented opportunity to know their customer. With increasingly diverse demographics, marketers need data analytics to better understand the behaviour of the digital native, or ‘millennials’, as well as an ageing population and everyone else in between. Marketers are able to use the real-time insights from a huge range of digital channels to their advantage.

It’s no surprise then that web and customer analytics have been identified as the most important disciplines for marketers to master. The ability to mine data for crucial customer insight is a skill set that businesses prize, not just in the marketing function. But despite this, many marketers lack the competence and skills in data analytics that would help them incorporate insights from digital and mobile channels into their overall marketing mix.

Despite the recognition that mobile and on-demand media is changing the marketing landscape, marketers are still not confident with developing mobile strategies and activating mobile-ready campaigns. In fact, 1 in 3 marketers say their organisation’s mobile competence is below average or poor. This needs to change quickly if the brand wants to capture the attention of a mobile driven marketplace.

The Marketing Perspectives report by SAS and Marketing Week reveals that B2B marketers are more digitally inclined than their consumer focused counterparts, reporting more use of social, location based and mobile marketing. Thirty-five per cent of B2B marketers fell into the ‘SoMoLo Maven’ category (those who invest more, have greater skill and confidence in social, mobile and location marketing) compared to 19% of B2C marketers. However, with empowered buyers and digital natives driving change, the requirement for real-time data analytics skills is only set to grow. And yet, many still struggle with it.

Continue reading… 

The New Breed of Marketers: the Digital Native

IDG Connect 0811 300x141 The New Breed of Marketers: the Digital Native

The rise of the digital native and empowered consumers is transforming the marketing landscape, and marketers are responding to this change in very different ways. Many marketers lack the digital skills to fully adapt to this rapidly burgeoning breed of consumer and its always-on culture. They can build websites and design banners for example, but are they able to optimise the design and improve targeting? First generation digital marketing may have been achieved, but they now need to accomplish digital marketing 2.0.

Under pressure to deliver ROI against limited budgets, many tend to choose channels or approaches that have been tried and tested before. Whilst this gives them confidence to generate results, it prevents them from truly engaging with a millennial generation moving fast into the social and mobile arena.

But, as a new breed of consumer takes centre stage, so too does a new breed of marketer need to emerge. As millennials take up position on both sides of the buyer- supplier relationship, the current and future marketer needs to learn new skills and master a different set of tools. Understanding data analytics will be the key to success.

The behaviour of the millennial demographic is distinctly different from its predecessors in many respects. A strong relationship with technology, social media and a willingness to impart personal information in exchange for better services, are some of the most defining traits. Digital natives expect to converse, interact and purchase as, when and via the channel that they choose. In return they expect marketers to remember their likes and preferences; to understand them. Understanding and assimilating these differences and the behaviours that accompany them is crucial if marketers are to survive the digital revolution.

The always-connected nature of the millennial generation is a behavioural gold-mine for marketers – providing both the means to engage and a source of information to guide that engagement.

Assailed with marketing messages from an early age, these empowered buyers are experts at filtering out irrelevant, poorly timed or boring marketing campaigns. Social and location data is providing the means for marketers to connect with millennials in a way that is instantaneous, personal and relevant.

Effective digital marketing relies on big data analytics and real-time decision-making. These twin pillars help businesses to identify, understand, hone in on and engage their customers by providing them with crucial and timely customer insight. Coincidentally, they are also two of the weakest areas amongst marketers today according to research of nearly 600 marketers, which is why many are struggling to engage their customer in a digitally driven world.

Continue reading… 

12 Shocking Social Media Horror Stories

CITEworld

Horrible Social Media Misfires

Just in time for Halloween, here are 12 scary, shocking, horrifying and just plainhorrible social media misfires from the past year. We’re talking big brands — DiGiorno Pizza, J. P. Morgan, US Airways — making even bigger mistakes or, for one reason or another, catching beatings on social media sites.

To build our house of social media horrors, we asked the digital marketing community for input. We asked about the social media faux pas they remember most vividly, and the lessons we can learn from the blunders. We also found a few examples in blogs and articles.

4AutoInsuranceQuote.com’s Paul Walker Tweets

On Nov. 30, 2013, actor Paul Walker, of “Fast & Furious” fame, died in a horrific car crash. The next day, 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com repeatedly tweeted that it hoped Walker had car insurance.

The company even tweeted directly to Walker’s Twitter handle (@RealPaulWalker): “Yo Paul did u have auto insurance for that crash? Hope so.” The company also tweeted the car insurance question to mainstream news outlets such as Time, “which of course further fueled the public outrage and social media backlash,” says David Erickson, vice president of online marketing, Karwoski & Courage. “This is an example of horrible judgment, and the only way to prevent something like this is to ensure the people running your social media accounts are decent human beings.”

U.S. Airways’ Pornographic Tweet

“The pornographic U.S. Airways tweet from April 2014 will go down in infamy and haunt the dreams of social media professionals for years to come,” says Dee Anna McPherson, vice president of marketing, Hootsuite.

A link to a salacious picture posted on the airline’s Twitter account quickly went viral. CNN and other media outlets reported on it. “U.S. Airways stood by the employee responsible for the explicit blunder, citing it as an honest mistake,” says McPherson. “It was a brave choice, considering the gaffe dominated Internet conversation for about a week, and the brand led trending Twitter conversations for days. While it may certainly have been a simple mistake, it underscores the need for care and process when posting to social.”

View the full slideshow

Media Companies Strike Gold With Sponsored Content

AdAge

Media companies say they’ve struck gold in the form of content marketing — during the third quarter, at least.

Recent quarterly earnings reports show that the practice of disguising ads as non-commercial content — whether that content is an article from a professional newsroom or a Facebook post from your aunt — is driving revenue gains at a variety of media companies, from The New York Times to LinkedIn.

Whether it’s called native advertising or sponsored content, it appears this practice will stick around for a while, or at least through the next set of earnings reports.

“Content advertising is not a fad,” said Peter Minnium, head of brand initiatives at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, an organization that conducts research and establishes standards for digital advertising. “It’s actually a core part of the maturation of digital advertising.”

The Times reported a 16.5% increase in digital-ad revenue during the third quarter — the three-month period from July through September — compared with the same time last year. Fueling the increase, which nearly offset declines in print advertising, was its native-advertising product Paid Posts.

“The biggest drivers are the launch of, and positive growth of, our Paid Post business,” Meredith Kopit Levien, the Times’ exec VP-advertising, said during a call with investors last week explaining the company’s quarterly results.

Paid Posts rolled out in January and will have attracted more than 30 advertising clients by the end of the year. The advertisers — which Times President-CEO Mark Thompson called a “dream list” of clients — include Chevron, Goldman Sachs, Netflix and Cole Haan.

With the Times reporting strong digital gains from native advertising, its perhaps no surprise that another newspaper, the U.K.’s Guardian, which has sought to build a U.S. business online, introduced a website redesign last week with plans to offer its own native-ad products in the near future.

New-Media players
While the Times leaned on native-advertising to boost revenue slightly, new-media organizations like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter rode native advertising — or what it likes to call sponsored content — to dizzying heights.

LinkedIn reported third-quarter ad revenue of $109 million, a 45% increase over the previous year. Sponsored updates, an ad product that allows companies to post articles on the pages of LinkedIn members that don’t already follow the company, drove the sharp increase. It accounts for 31% of LinkedIn’s ad revenue, the company said, up from just 7% last year at this time. Sponsored updates are the fastest growing business in LinkedIn’s history, according to CEO Jeff Weiner.

Advertising sales at Facebook grew 64% compared with the prior year to $2.96 billion. Two-thirds of that revenue came from mobile, where the ads appear within the flow of content and are labeled as “sponsored.” Similarly, Twitter’s ads also appear within the flow of content. While Twitter’s earnings report worried some investors because of its slowing growth in users, the social network’s ad revenue jumped 109% to $320 million.

And the blogging platform Tumblr is hoping to reach $100 million in revenue by introducing autoplay video ads within users’ feeds. The product, which Tumblr introduced last week, is called Sponsored Video Posts.

But native advertising is not benefitting every media property. Tumblr’s parent company, Yahoo, for instance, has seen its pricey display ads falter as advertisers flock to its cheaper native Stream Ads, which appear within the flow of content. This has sparked a chain reaction at Yahoo, where search advertising now outpaces that of display.

Continue reading…

Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling

Harvard Business Review

It is quiet and dark. The theater is hushed. James Bond skirts along the edge of a building as his enemy takes aim. Here in the audience, heart rates increase and palms sweat.  I know this to be true because instead of enjoying the movie myself, I am measuring the brain activity of a dozen viewers. For me, excitement has a different source: I am watching an amazing neural ballet in which a story line changes the activity of people’s brains.

Many business people have already discovered the power of storytelling in a practical sense – they have observed how compelling a well-constructed narrative can be. But recent scientific work is putting a much finer point on just how stories change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.

As social creatures, we depend on others for our survival and happiness. A decade ago, my lab discovered that a neurochemical called oxytocin is a key “it’s safe to approach others” signal in the brain. Oxytocin is produced when we are trusted or shown a kindness, and it motivates cooperation with others. It does this by enhancing the sense of empathy, our ability to experience others’ emotions. Empathy is important for social creatures because it allows us to understand how others are likely to react to a situation, including those with whom we work.

More recently my lab wondered if we could “hack” the oxytocin system to motivate people to engage in cooperative behaviors. To do this, we tested if narratives shot on video, rather than face-to-face interactions, would cause the brain to make oxytocin. By taking blood draws before and after the narrative, we found that character-driven stories do consistently cause oxytocin synthesis. Further, the amount of oxytocin released by the brain predicted how much people were willing to help others; for example, donating money to a charity associated with the narrative.

In subsequent studies we have been able to deepen our understanding of why stories motivate voluntary cooperation. (This research was given a boost when, with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense, we developed ways to measure oxytocin release noninvasively at up to one thousand times per second.) We discovered that, in order to motivate a desire to help others, a story must first sustain attention – a scarce resource in the brain – by developing tension during the narrative. If the story is able to create that tension then it is likely that attentive viewers/listeners will come to share the emotions of the characters in it, and after it ends, likely to continue mimicking the feelings and behaviors of those characters. This explains the feeling of dominance you have after James Bond saves the world, and your motivation to work out after watching the Spartans fight in 300.

Continue reading… 

Research: How to Drive Engagement Through Social Media 2014

IDG Connect 0811 Research: How to Drive Engagement Through Social Media 2014

In January 2006 Twitter didn’t exist, blogging was mocked, and Facebook was for students. Over the following five years social media took off, but still many people questioned the importance of social networks in the B2B space. Now in 2014, its usefulness has been proven over and over again and it continues to gain momentum. In fact, as content marketing gradually grows in importance, social media is playing an even more significant role.

Summary

New research conducted in November 2013 by IDG Connect shows that 86% of B2B Information Technology (IT) buyers are currently using
social media networks in their purchase decision process. Social media is not only important for companies, but it is now a necessary investment and crucial element of any go-to-market strategies. And findings suggest this is only set to increase over the next couple of years.

  • 86% of IT buyers are using social media networks and content in their purchase decision process
  • Social media is used most often in the general education stage of the buying cycle
  • 89% of IT buyers prefer educational content to promotional content in their favored social media channels
  • 62% of IT buyers are most interested in seeing e-seminars (virtual events) from social channels
  • Product/Service reviews are the content types that IT buyers prefer to see links from via social channels
  • In two years, social, peer-generated content will have greater weight versus editorial and vendor content in making IT investment decisions

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Screen Shot 2014 01 13 at 4.39.11 PM Research: How to Drive Engagement Through Social Media 2014

China Interview: Insight for Western Marketers

IDG Connect 0811 China Interview: Insight for Western Marketers

As the Alibaba IPO has reminded international businesses afresh of the vast potential in China, we catch up with Tait Lawton, who hails from Canada but has been working in People’s Republic for over a decade. He founded the Nanjing Marketing Group  to help Western companies get into the marketplace and now provides some useful insights for marketers worldwide.

Following the highly publicized Alibaba IPO have you noticed an increase in Western clients looking to target China?

We’ve noticed a steady increase overall, but not a large jump around the Alibaba IPO necessarily. Tough to say.

Has the attitude of Western clients looking to target China changed in the time you have been based there?

I’ve been helping Western clients with Chinese marketing for five years. I’d say they have the same basic concerns, but are more willing to accept our advice when it comes to tailoring their campaign more to the Chinese market.

We prefer to plan the China marketing campaign anew from the ground up as opposed to using more of a one-size-fits-all globalization strategy, and more people are willing to accept this now. Tough to say if it’s because of a change in the overall mind set of Western marketers or it’s just because we have more people that have been reading our articles on our blog and other websites.

How does the way Chinese consumers use technology differ from the way technology is used in your native Canada?

They haven’t gone through the same process of adoption. Since China developed so quickly, lots of people in China have just skipped whole stages of technology that Canadians, Americans and other Westerners are used to. For example, some years ago I was surprised to see that my girlfriend’s family never used a VCR and instead just went straight to using DVDs. Now, of course, people may be skipping VCRs, DVDs and even streaming on laptops and just go straight to streaming on mobile devices.

What’s most relevant for our digital marketing efforts is that there are plenty of internet users that started using the internet on mobile devices. Mobile marketing is essential. Sometimes people ask me “do you do mobile marketing?”, and I’m like “well, ya. 100% of the marketing we do is relevant to mobile. All of our SEM, SEO and social media services are relevant to mobile.”

People in China also use QR codes a lot. You’ll see QR codes for Weibo and WeChat campaigns on subway ads, restaurant menus, everywhere.

What do you think Western businesses most misunderstand about China?

For one, they may underestimate the competition and the amount they should invest to be successful. China is very competitive and for most market entry cases we see, there are Chinese competitors that are entrenched and willing to invest much much more than the foreign company planning to enter China. Chinese companies are very confident in their business opportunities and willing to invest in branding.

And Chinese advertising is not cheap, nor is marketing talent. Great Chinese marketers can make as much money as great marketers in USA or other places.

Continue reading…

IDG Corporate Video 2015

idg logo1 IDG Corporate Video 2015

IDG is the world’s leading media, events, and research company reaching over 280 million technology buyings in 97 countries.

IDG Communications (a subsidiary of IDG) is the largest global technology media, data and services company. It delivers personalized and contextual-based experiences for the most powerful tech buyers.

From millennial tech enthusiasts to senior executives, IDG understands and reaches them all.