Graeme Foux examines how brands such as Coca-Cola and Intel are adapting to the convergence of social media, content and advertising.
Social media mania continues apace, with wall to wall debate and impassioned views on how brands should respond and can succeed in this new online social era. In an environment with lots of noise and vested interests, the challenge for CMO’s is filtering the hype and fluff to grasp the fundamentals.
And that’s not easy, because it’s a space that is moving and evolving very fast. You only have to look at how quickly sentiment has turned bearish towards Facebook and Zynga, two of the darlings of social media, to feel there’s barely time to catch your breath, let alone transform your approach to marketing.
Some might say the smart money is switching horses, away from the consumer focused social media plays & towards business software designed to help marketers. In recent weeks we’ve seen the software giants’ Salesforce, Oracle and Google pounce to acquire start up social marketing companies Buddy Media, Vitrue and Wildfire. They may have been start ups, but with a combined investment of $1.6 billion they certainly weren’t cheap.
A key driver for this flurry of acquisitions is a fast emerging challenge that CMO’s most certainly should take seriously. The convergence of advertising and media, triggered by rapidly changing consumer behaviour online, requires brands to significantly realign their marketing efforts.
This convergence requires brands to bring together their advertising, corporate content & social media to create effective online engagement with customers. Leading brands such as Coca Cola are already rebalancing spend away from paid media (advertising) and towards owned & earned media to generate trust, encourage advocacy, & amplify brand messages.
The causes of such change are well documented and understood. These include fragmenting audiences, proliferating channels, empowered consumers embracing innovative technologies, advertising effectiveness declining, and the importance of conversations in creating trust and brand loyalty.
The implications for brands are rapidly crystallising and the most forward thinking brands, like Coca Cola, are moving decisively to make the necessary changes. These are wide ranging, from developing new content generation capabilities, through organisational change within marketing departments and at agencies to breakdown silos.
Despite the fact that marketing was always supposed to be about a focus on the ‘customer’ in reality most marketing is delivered from a channel perspective (e.g. email, social, advertising) not a customer centric model. As consumer behaviour now travels seamlessly between and across the different channels, brands are being outflanked. More effective collaboration for in-house marketing teams and across agencies is critical. We already see brands such as Intel reorganising their marketing teams to bring content, social and search teams together as one.
Other required changes include shifting budgets, adopting new methods of measurement, embracing a more agile, test based approach and investing in appropriate technology. PepsiCo's global director of digital and social media described technology as the "new driver of creativity" in marketing. The growing band of specialist marketing technology vendors represents a powerful opportunity for brands to partner effectively.
Media convergence is accelerating and inevitable. All around, the marketing landscape is being recast by innovative technology companies, forward thinking brands and ambitious agencies. As ever, great change comes with rich rewards for those that have a clear understanding and willingness to act decisively.
Graeme Foux is CEO at Knexus, a Cloud technology company specialising in content engagement tools for leading brands. Graeme is a successful entrepreneur who has worked in the internet industry, both in Europe and US, for the past 20 years.