A common trait I find among many “red-coat” marketers is a lack of respect for the collective intelligence of consumers. This expresses itself in many ways. One is the “we know what our users want” mindset. Another is the Boston/NY-SF/LA view that folks in Middle America are unsophisticated and stupid. These attitudes are constantly reflected in marketing strategy. In fact I’d argue they express themselves every time a digital marketer does not perform real-time testing and optimization.
The reality is communication technology has always made consumers savvier; more educated and amplified their diversity. We will all agree that power has shifted in the marketplace to consumers as they take on an ever-active voice in the marketing and the ultimate success of products. Reviews, recommendations and social networks necessitate factual and helpful messages and marketing that quantifies benefits to consumers. This is the only way consumers will accept your voice. Some might say straight talk lends itself to more DR focused marketing – and it does —but it can also become best friend of a brand builder.
The Brand Tax
What the brand marketers on Madison Avenue don’t know or care about is that brand has always ruled the highly transactional practices of email, affiliate and search marketing both on volume and ROI. There’s no reason brand can’t have the same impact on other forms of digital – or in other words eventually rule digital the way it does traditional. No medium wrings emotions out of people and allows them to share them as easily and instantly as online. The medium itself was created as a means to share. So if brand is about a relationship the digital domain is the place where relationships can be easily established and maintained.
As we establish “digital” brand metrics optimization and success needs to be based on user behavior and action. Google is all over this. A brand revolution has begun with its seeds being sown in Mountain View, CA. This extends far past Google holding hands with Publicis. It permeates every part of the digital marketing landscape.
Crossing the Delaware
Marketers and Agencies can either be with this revolution or against it. So pick up a musket and don’t leave money (or your client) on the table. Here are the battlefields and the ammunition you’ll need to fire.
Search & Contextual Ads – Bids: I expect Google will begin assigning post click page factors into bid price before the end of the year. Position: At the moment Google is factoring landing pages for contextual ad position. Expect before 2008 is out we’ll see the quality score algo factor page content for ad position in the SERPS.
Display/Banners – As graphic ads become smarter and more engaging we’ll see new definitions and success metrics emerge based on actions that incorporate much more validity than view-through and much more value than CTR.
Widgets/Gadgets – Widgets are already part of Google’s action based pricing models (Google Gadgets). This adds another layer of strategy and optimization and threatens the current media buying/agency paradigm even further.
Landing Pages – As application based landing pages (or targeted dynamic sites) begin to usurp the microsites as the primary digital brand-marketing vehicle the measurement, optimization and value of brand actions will grow. I’ve created these experiences and quantifying these metrics for a number of top brands and they’re eating it up –much to the disdain of their agencies.
Technology, tools, strategy and measurement continue to evolve at a rapid pace. What will remain consistent is that success relies on respecting the intelligence of your audience by giving them access to information, tools to control it and means to socialize it – all the while measuring and optimizing actions and outcomes. If you believe in your product, service or brand what do you have to lose, except maybe your customers believing in you?