I recently wrote a piece that discussed the ‘deep inertia’ in the newspaper world. The reluctance to experiment with new avenues in journalism, curation, and news reporting — and to derive new sources of revenue from them — is killing the majority of newspapers.
But in almost every industry the majority of companies are conservative, late adopters, hoping that others will pioneer new digital tracks that they can follow later on, once all the potholes in the roads have been filled.
That’s the case in the adoption of social media marketing, as shown in the Financial Times special report that was published yesterday:
Advertisers rush to master fresh set of skills - David Gelles via FT.com
The new world of digital and social media marketing can give companies increased access to their customers, fresh insights into their preferences, a broader creative palette to work with, and additional data and metrics to study.
Yet there are unsolved questions over how best to organise and execute digital and social campaigns. No single formula has emerged, leaving most companies and ad agencies in a state of constant experimentation. There is also lingering confusion over how best to measure the effectiveness of a campaign, and a company’s return on investment.
Ann Lewnes, chief marketing officer of Adobe, the software company, says she pushed the company into digital and social marketing early on. “We saw the insights we could glean from customers, the iterations we could do on a campaign,” she says. “We saw the ability to really, really measure results.” Adobe now spends 74 per cent of its more than $100m marketing budget on digital.
Even for a digital-first company such as Adobe, each campaign is a fresh start of sorts. Ms Lewnes says 20 per cent of her budget is going towards experimental campaigns, and that each product launch requires a different mix of paid, earned and owned media.
Perhaps the largest shift in recent years has been the transition from the one-way, broadcast messaging of television, print and outdoor, to the two-way conversation that social options now allow companies to have with their consumers.
[…]Keith Weed, chief marketing officer of Unilever, the consumer products group that is the second-largest advertiser in the world, says: “Digital is in theory more measurable than anything else, in theory and in practice, but it’s not broad enough yet. What we’ll see is a significant maturation of ROI in digital.”
There is an explosion in social media metrics, but its very early days. The biggest confusion arises from the fact that both conventional broadcast marketing and social marketing are going on at the same time, with very different contours.
Consider what American Express must be confronted with. On one hand, their conventional ‘don’t leave home without it’ style print advertising is still gracing the pages of Vogue and GQ, and meanwhile they are getting huge traction with their new Twitter hashtag campaign. How can they rationalize the ROI of these completely different activities?
The problem may lie in social network analysis. For decades, advertisers have been content to bombard their markets with messaging, and to measure its effectiveness with non-social-network oriented analysis: polls, focus groups, and raw sales numbers. However, the social networks were always out there: they were just not online, and tapping into them was so costly as to be prohibitive.
The transition is happening today, since social networks are online — like Twitter and Facebook — and the buzz that conventional and social campaigns cause can be analyzed in a uniform, social manner. But these new measurement techniques are relatively new, and not a mature as the old school techniques, so folks like Keith Weed are hungry for better and deeper analysis.