Friday, January 22, 2010

Article Predicts Growth in Social Media Spending

As the economy struggles to recover, those of us in the marketing industry are eagerly watching for signs of growth. While the overall picture still remains a bit murky, the consensus view is that social-media spending will continue to grow.

A new survey conducted by Alterian, a Web content management and social-media monitoring firm, predicts social media will continue to do well. Alterian received 1,068 responses to a survey conducted both online and at live conferences.

Of the respondents, about 40 percent said they would be shifting at least 20 percent of their marketing budget to social media. Also, 36 percent indicated they've already made substantial social-media investments. Perhaps surprisingly, however, 42 percent don't incorporate data gathered from their various online channels to assist them in better tracking sales leads.

While this survey indicates a promising future for social media, it's hard to know exactly what this will mean for the industry as a whole because a social-media presence can vary greatly from one firm to another. Some consider a mere blog as a social-media investment whereas others will probably go on to create more robust, interactive content networks to engage prospective and current customers.

One thing that any company would be wise to do when embarking on a campaign is to simultaneously create a system to capture and analyze data from social-media activity. This is more important in social media than any other form of marketing because social media platforms offer a range of opportunities for companies to encourage prospects to willingly engage with their brand.

Certainly the jury's still out on the exact form that the most successful marketing strategies of the future will take. But one thing's clear: Conventional advertising and other strategies that once had the market cornered are rapidly losing favor to newer options that give companies a better idea of a campaign's effectiveness and data that allows continual customer and prospect engagement.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Ad Age Article Challenges PR Industry's Digital Prowess

In a broad ranging article discussing the overall outlook for the advertising industry in 2010, Ad Age takes a swipe at public relations agencies and their response to the emergence of digital platforms, such as social-media outlets

Broadly speaking, the article says public relations agencies have been standing by during the interactive explosion, much as they did during the dot-com boom in the 1990s. The result, the article claims, is that PR agencies have lost business they should be handling to direct marketing agencies, digital consultancies and related businesses.

The article says the PR industry needs to be putting its emphasis on understanding which of the remaining media outlets will have the most impact on customer decisions and reallocate their staffing to include more individuals that understand how to properly respond to these trends on their clients' behalf.

As I write this about two hours into the work day, a whole host of PR pros have retweeted the headline/URL of this story and have gone on to say that while there's still work to be done in understanding where we're heading and arriving at a successful implementation, the industry as a whole has done pretty well at adapting.

One claim the article makes that I wholeheartedly disagree with is the claim that PR agencies largely stood by following the emergence of the dot-com boom and lost business as a result of it. If anything, I think the PR industry overreacted to the dot-com boom and overestimated the lasting impact it would have on the industry, and marketing in general.

While many of the predictions made during that time have borne or started to bear fruit, I think one of the main reasons for the dot-com bust was the fact that broadband technology was not yet mature and pervasive enough to carry the benefits into the country's homes and businesses. We often forget that most American consumers now have more bandwidth in their homes than was serving an entire enterprise during the mid 1990s. Given that, it's no wonder that PointCast couldn't make it or that instant messaging companies couldn't survive as standalone businesses as Twitter is now.

I also think the article overlooks the fact that it's far from clear who the overall winners will be in the "digital revolution." As I've written many times before, we certainly have the technology in place to bring in a sea change in terms of the way information is distributed and consumed. That said, just like early attempts to reinvent information distribution failed because of the lack of broadband pipes, the new information platforms have yet to arrive at a solid business model. Once the business matures and we have a better idea of the winners and losers, the real jockeying can begin.