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Digital Visions

Digital Visions

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Published by Steve Rubel

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Published by: Steve Rubel on Jan 19, 2010
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“The bigger opportunity for clients, we believe, is to identify the global societal and technological trends that are reshaping how we think, act and buy - and to pivot into them early. Trends today tend to develop more slowly and are harder to see, allowing clients to take a more thoughtful, thorough and systematic approach.” - Steve Rubel

During the last decade, we’ve seen social and digital media move from being purely the domain of tech-savvy types into a mainstream phenomenon. All you need to do is consider one statistic: Twitter was mentioned on television nearly 20,000 times in 2009, according to SnapStream. As a result, companies are investing in it and – slowly – seeing results. Given the hype, much attention has turned to guessing what will become “the next Twitter.” It’s ample fodder for tech and marketing pundits, the media and clients - especially at the beginning of a new year and a new decade. However, in many ways this is the wrong question to ask. Where once it was hard to sleuth out emerging platforms like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook before they grew, now they just seem to surface out of nowhere. You’ll know the next Twitter when you see it. The bigger opportunity for clients, we believe, is to identify the global societal and technological trends that are reshaping how we think, act and buy - and to pivot into them early. Trends today tend to develop more slowly and are harder to see, allowing clients to take a more thoughtful, thorough and systematic approach. Steve Rubel Senior Vice President, Director of Insights steve.rubel@edelman.com January 4, 2010 New York, NY • And finally, the future is about carefully using the data people generate to make smarter decisions, while adhering to concerns over privacy. We hope you enjoy our 10 ideas for the new decade. We welcome you to challenge us on our thinking. After all, that’s the only way we can grow. • Companies (and organized interests) are just beginning to wake up to the engagement imperative - and how to fund and develop it over time. • Our engagement with each other is migrating rapidly from computer to handset. • The shift to digital technologies by both consumers and marketers is now global and pervasive across all aspects of our life and growing daily. In the following pages you will find 10 essays on such trends written by some of the smartest thinkers in digital marketing. These ideas, when looked at together, reveal four key themes:

Back to Reality
For all the hoopla around the explosion of social media, one would think the industry would have developed, agreed upon and socialized a standardized approach to measuring its impact. Yes, the Interactive Advertising Bureau has agreed upon core metrics that quantify things like friends and followers. Yes, there have been countless blog posts and conference panels on the topic. However, as one client so rightly expressed last fall, when you strip away the hype, what we’ve nailed is how to measure outputs, not outcomes. commitment to funding meaningful social media measurement; Proving – and perhaps more importantly, being able to predict with a fair degree of accuracy – the return of each client’s investment in the social space is the only thing standing between the discipline being a drop in the ad budget bucket and 20 percent or more of any brand’s total communications spending. The pundits out there will no doubt take issue with my claim that this isn’t already possible and being done. To some degree, they’re right. The basic toolset required to get us to ROI exists and is being effectively deployed by a handful of companies. Intuit and Lego are two prime examples, but they’re the exceptions. We need new rules. Yes, social media has gone from sideline novelty to cultural I believe that there are three essential elements missing: a CRM mindset regarding media spend and content development; a Money flows to things that produce results. And we can prove it.
By Rick Murray President, Edelman Digital

and the fact that Facebook (with its 350+ million citizens) remains a largely closed environment. It’s up to agencies to drive the first and brands to drive the second. What Facebook ultimately does is anyone’s guess, but there are countless geek entrepreneurs out there who claim to have found workarounds. If I were Facebook’s CEO for a day, I’d take one look at my balance sheet, steal a quick glance at Google’s and opt for opening up. Now, back to reality.

ubiquity. We’re now about to see it become a business driver.

Disruptive-Proof Businesses
Over the last two years, businesses have tightened belts, cut spending and some have gone out of business altogether due to the economy. But there is another threat that many organizations face which will likely remain, even as the cycle of recession begins to fade - disruption. Many business models are simply not disruption proof. The media industry has been turned upside down partially as a result of technologies which empower anyone to act like a journalist. Newspapers have seen their classified cash cows cannibalized by free or low-cost services such as Craigslist. Web designers who once charged premium fees for their services now compete with Wordpress or other do-it-yourself services. The music industry has been upended, with record stores going out of business as a result of the iTunes ecosystem and digital file swapping. The advertising industry has been thrown into chaos by technology which empowers the consumers to skip over ads and demand value in place of messaging. Disruption fueled by technology, such as a younger generation that lives more digitally, and other global trends will force businesses to re-assess how they spend media dollars and influence the creation of new products and services. This will gradually trickle down into every facet of an organization, forcing changes in job descriptions, demands and skills. In an effort to become a disruption-proof business, brands and organizations
By David Armano Senior Vice President, Edelman Digital

will need to become more connected and in tune with their customers, employees and partners than ever before. Disruption-proof businesses will need to become better at predicting possible outcomes and adapting quickly to changes in their environment before their business models become disrupted. Listening tools and “real-time” focus groups on social networks will make meaning from the data. These will become increasingly essential for enabling an organization to stay informed, while internally they will improve how their own employees share information and collaborate. In 2010 and beyond, technologies and the human behavior it influences will continue to disrupt — but organizations who learn to adapt quickly will thrive.

The Valley of Abandonment
This is the year when businesses finally take social media beyond just one-time marketing programs and campaigns and up-level their involvement toward a more sustained, serious relationship. In short, we’re moving up from flirting to going steady. In our love lives, relationships are a lot of work - keeping them alive and meaningful are even more so. Much the same, corporations, large and small, are seeing value in reshaping how marketing dollars are being allocated by reversing the model they’ve become used to – a start-and-stop campaign approach – to one that’s on all the time. Note that this does not mean that campaigns are dead. They will live on as part of a more fluid engagement structure. Let’s look at it another way: Some guys like to seduce a new girl every night at their local bar. It may be fun for them, but the drinks get pretty expensive. Relationships are more meaningful and more cost-effective in the long-run because the “maintenance” costs are easier on the wallet than a series of seduction tactics (I’ll leave it to authors Levitt and Dubner to elaborate on the analogy in their next book, Super-Duper Freakonomics.) A campaign model in the social space is the same. Often it ends up leaving customers, fans or advocates in what I call the Valley Best Buy is a prime example of a company that has
By Sylvain Perron General Manager, Edelman Digital Canada

of Abandonment. The problem is that a company has to later invest more in re-engaging stakeholders, and the cost here ends up being higher than if they had simply kept the conversation going. Savvy Fortune 500 companies are starting to fill in the Valley of Abandonment with ongoing engagement programs that touch an alphabet soup of departments such as HR, PR, CSR, CRM, customer service, operations and marketing. Take Best Buy, for example. Its Twelpforce program has unleashed more than 2,000 employees on Twitter, enabling them to offer tech support to customers around the clock and in the open. Best Buy doesn’t stop there – the company’s Loop marketplace also crowdsources operational improvement ideas from employees and gets them funded.

wholeheartedly embraced ongoing social media engagement in its operational DNA. Look for others to do the same in 2010.

Location, Location, Location
Over the past decade, we’ve seen an evolution in social networking platforms. They have progressed from tools for finite, asynchronous communications with acquaintances (Classmates. com), to one-to-one and broadcast messaging (MySpace), to real-time interactions and now constant updates (Twitter, Facebook). All the while, we’ve also seen an explosion in mobile processing power and mass-market penetration of smartphones equipped with GPS (Global Positioning System.) Until very recently, however, these were disconnected events. Social networking services had not harnessed the power of location-based services in a way that truly resonated with consumers. Loopt, Brightkite, Whrrl and Buzzd all tried, but they were unable to reach critical mass. Arguably, they were too early. However, another key reason these services did not catch on was that they lacked an essential element: fun. Enter Foursquare, which launched in early 2009. Foursquare allows a user to import his/her friends from a variety of existing networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Gmail. In addition to providing the ability to “alert” friends to one’s current location via a special mobile application, Foursquare introduced the concept of earning a variety of badges for behaviors. Users can enter new locations manually and share tips (such as “order the Pei King Duck”). Moreover, regulars at certain venues, restaurants, pubs, or other retail locations can earn the title of Mayor. This added gaming element seems to be the missing link that mobile social networking needed to catch on with consumers.
By Michael Wiley Managing Director, Midwest, Edelman Digital

Foursquare has experienced dramatic growth last year and is now available worldwide. So what does this mean for business? At its simplest level, Foursquare gives businesses a way to recognize and reward their best customers through loyalty programs. More than 200 companies are offering promotions to Foursquare users. Foursquare also is an opportunity for broader consumer engagement and sentiment tracking. While the level of data currently available within the site is still relatively modest, as the service grows it is sure to evolve as a real-time decision support tool. For example, if a user finds himself wandering through a relatively unfamiliar neighborhood after dinner, he/she can immediately query other venues in the neighborhood when in the mood for a coffee or after-dinner drink. In the new year, user-generated content will help guide more of our decisions, putting even more emphasis on the need for distributed businesses like retailers, in particular, to focus on positive customer experience.

Asian Mobile Marketing Goes Off the Hook
After years of hype, massive consumer adoption of social media is giving marketers a reason to get excited about Asia’s mobile Internet prospects for 2010. Micro-blogging services like Twitter evolved from a niche tool into a key brand marketing vehicle. Meanwhile, social networking growth (and not just Facebook) has been phenomenal. However, it’s mobile that’s the shining star. A desire for access is accelerating the sales of smartphones. According to Pyramid Research, smartphones will climb from 16 percent of global handset sales in 2009 to 37 percent by 2014 – with China expected to become the number one market this year. In Japan, 70 percent of Mixi users already access the social network via mobile devices. Twitter Japan is seeing similar results as it rolls out its platform and paid-for service model. The iPhone was a game-changer for China. This was not because it was a big seller - it wasn’t. What the iPhone did was create major consumer demand for mobile Internet access and related services/devices. Dopod, Meizu and many other local manufacturers were spurred to release products to meet this demand. Even handheld gaming units (akin to the iPod Touch) are coming equipped or are being hacked and fitted with SIM cards for mobile Internet access. Finally, the intersection between social networking, gaming and mobile is also fueling growth. Local social networks such as Cyworld (Korea), Mixi and RenRen.com (China) have been battling to hatch the next big casual gaming phenomenon to Asia’s highly sought-after youth market. The ongoing roll-out of 3G wireless across Asia will only drive increased demand in 2010 for mobile Internet among the masses. However, with all the growth, what’s key here is that marketing on people’s handsets requires a different psychology. In order to relevantly engage with customers, Asian marketers must innately understand how the convergence of social media, mobile broadband access and smartphone usage alters the local market information landscape. This includes where people get their content, how they want to consume it and how they share it. Success will require deep research, insight and tenacity, but the potential rewards are huge. It’s time to get going – the big mobile show may finally be here.

By John Kerr Director, Southeast Asia

Be Now or You Will Be Never
The media used to be our most credible source of information. It was the only way companies could deliver a message without the hard-sell of an ad. Readers automatically trusted the news since journalists often just corroborate our own world views. But the Web has brought new ways of communicating. Anyone with a cell phone and an Internet connection can produce news, even become relevant and trustful. More importantly, Twitter and live streaming tools like Qik turned communication into something unfettered and instantaneous. Web time is “real time” – and more and more it’s the traditional “trusted” media that are slow to react. With each major news event there are millions who are experiencing their “Kanye West moment” for the first time; when we realize that the more authoritative sources we once trusted are sometimes too slow. When West, a rapper, jumped onstage during the MTV Video Music Awards and interrupted singer Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, the reaction was immediate. There were more than 5,000 tweets in the first five seconds. As the show went on, more than 50,000 people published about the incident, according to MTV. My own “Kanye moment” came during the aftermath of the Air France AF447 crash off the coast of Brazil. Edelman Brazil posted on Twitter all the statements put out by the airliner and monitored the web to measure the repercussion. Hours later, there were already more than 1,000 re-tweets (people spreading the news via their own Twitter accounts). A community opened
By Thiane Loureiro Regional Director, Edelman Digital Latin America

on Orkut, Brazil’s largest social network, and grew to more than 5,000 members, and more than 500 blogs re-published news from online portals. It is almost impossible to control the velocity and reach of news these days. Events, TV shows, movie premieres, accidents, scandals, elections – they are all commented on by people online. As communicators, we need to be prepared to address issues and react quickly and intelligently.

The New Morning Paper
Habits are evolving. We first replaced our local morning paper with online news sites like the New York Times or aggregators like the Yahoo home page. But now another shift is underway. Our first login is an early morning look at Twitter or Facebook via mobile phones. We now learn about breaking news stories like increased violence in Iran or Tiger’s indiscretions first from our friends’ Tweets and status posts – not from Matt Lauer. The data illustrates the trend. Akamai, which analyzes Internet traffic, says usage starts to rocket at around 6 a.m. on the East Coast. The most trafficked hours are between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Verizon Wireless reported that the number of text messages sent between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. jumped by 50 percent in July 2009, compared with a year earlier. Journalists too are starting their day with social media. Mashable’s study on journalists’ social media habits found that the pros use social media as “personal news aggregator[s].” At the crack of dawn, they check their Facebook and Twitter accounts to see what stories friends and other media are posting and which topics they are discussing. Is it ironic that even when we aren’t quite ready to grumble up a “good morning” to our families, we are ready to join our social party online for the hottest news? That’s what’s on my mind as we start 2010.

By Cricket Wardein Executive Vice President, Managing Director, Edelman Digital West

Converging Divergence
The web is nothing if not infinitely complex. Every time you peel back a layer or explore something new, you find a whole community, with complexity and dynamics all its own. At the same time, Google has become everyone’s “home page.” Google accounts for nearly nine out of every 10 searches, from basic factoids to new products and emerging communities. To connect with people successfully online, we must embrace both the “convergence” of search as well as the “divergence” of the modern Web and understand how they complement each other. The way forward is simpler than we might think at first. By pursuing a strategy of dispersing our web presence, we can also improve performance in Google and therefore address convergence, too. Consider this: social networks like Facebook, Flickr and YouTube are really “mini webs” unto themselves. So, just as you have a traditional Website to ensure a basic Web presence – and hopefully a good deal more – you can also have a presence in online communities, or what we also refer to as “digital embassies.” Establishing “digital embassies” like this has direct online visibility benefits. For example, cross linking between your embassies can improve your search results, thereby raising your profile and generating more conversation about your brand, issue or product.
By Marshall Manson Director of Digital Strategy, Edelman Europe

Journalism Strikes Back
“The Media is Dying” is a popular Twitter channel that tracks layoffs and the financial struggles battering traditional news media. The tweets read like epitaphs, whether it’s impending doom at The Associated Press; London’s Observer, the world’s oldest Sunday paper, closing; or the Tribune Company shrinking papers to save on newsprint. Pierre Omidyar, an investor who backed early citizen journalism The reality is, however, that while news became bigger than ever this past decade, journalism got smaller. “Content” replaced stories; aggregators replaced reporters; and being first replaced being accurate. Yet the tide is turning. In 2010, journalism strikes back. According to a study by the National Newspaper Association, 86 million Americans still read local newspapers every week, and 60 percent say the newspaper is their primary source of information about their community. The long-term viability of these ventures depends on making the Local news is the accelerator that will ignite journalism’s resurgence. People will support it, and advertisers will pay for it. ESPN didn’t launch a Los Angeles-focused web site because of Kobe Bryant, but because there are millions of advertising dollars up for grabs. The news industry layoffs put well-trained journalists on the market. These seasoned reporters, joined by younger J-school grads with Flip cameras and iPhones, are already reshaping the media landscape. Look for traditional news organizations to get into those streams and stock them with fresh stories (and learn how to Actually, people don’t find news anymore so much as news finds them, via customized “streams” on computers, mobile phones, e-readers and other devices. stories unique. News site “pay walls” won’t matter if consumers can find the same information somewhere else for free. startups Backfence and Bayosphere, is launching a non-profit news service in Hawaii staffed with professional journalists. Think of it as a “public radio” model that requires reporters to rely on their communities for stories and financial support. The Chicago Tribune has also gone “hyper local.” ChicagoNow is a blog hub with more than 120 local bloggers who are experts in the minutia of daily civic life that only a taxpaying resident could love. The bloggers are paid five dollars per 1,000 page views and are encouraged to comment and interact with the community. Former Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Jerry Lower took a loan against his house to start The Coastal Star, an offline and online newspaper serving the Delray Beach area. His paper is turning a profit, as is Health News Florida, a niche news site run by former Orlando Sentinel reporter Carol Gentry.

get paid for doing so). And look for more journalists to serve as news “curators,” like Robert Quigley of the Austin-American Statesman, who uses Twitter to find the best local information to share with readers. Finally, let’s not forget citizen journalists. One only needs to remember the iconic images of the London Underground bombings in 2005, the first-hand reports of the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, or the tweets about the Iranian elections in 2009 to be convinced of their lasting impact. Citizen journalism will continue to be effective and necessary, but individuals don’t need to learn how to be journalists for the profession to survive. Instead, journalists this year will learn how to become better citizens, re-connect with their communities and earn back the public’s trust.

By Gary Goldhammer Senior Vice President, Digital Strategy & Development

The Data Decade
Last year, according to former Amazon.com Chief Scientist Andreas Weigend, more data was generated by individuals than in the entire history of mankind through 2008. However, you ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait until you see how we use it. With the dawn of the new year, we’re entering the Data Decade. We’re in the early days of a massive trend where content, people, products and services find us via our personal and aggregate data footprints, rather than our seeking them out. Already, this is changing the way we live, work and play; and it holds huge promise in making marketing communications far more efficient and effective. But before we can look forward, it’s important to consider the brief 15-year history of the consumer Internet and the two trends that preceded the Data Decade. “Bedposted.com” quantifies your sexual encounters. Kibotzer. The 1990s were all about browsing. In the dial-up days, we would navigate from site to site - either to fulfill a certain goal or just for serendipity (remember “surfing” the Web?) Thinker Om Malik calls this The Destination Web Era. Journalists are getting into the act as well. AOL, Demand Media With the rise of Google, however, that all changed. In the 2000s, millions ditched their bookmarks in favor of just “Googling.” Search became an integral part of our global culture. The browse and search paradigms have a flaw in that they are both driven by intent. We need to know what we want. However, we often don’t know what we don’t know. But that’s going to change. and Associated Content are building out giant networks of sites that automatically assign content to writers based on their search keyword popularity - yes, our data footprints. In some cases, this totals 4,000 new items per day. com quantifies your progress toward goals like losing weight. Withings, a French firm, says it makes “a Wi-Fi-enabled weighing scale that sends readings to your computer to be graphed.” Mint.com offers advice on saving money based on others’ input. Google serves up personalized search results based on previous queries. And there’s more. The International Herald Tribune noted that many are taking to “self-tracking.” Machines are already subconsciously helping us make decisions. The experience is entirely personal. No two people see the same web. As millions of us enter text in little white boxes - be it on Amazon, Google, Twitter Facebook or elsewhere - the machines are building vast data warehouses that recognize patterns. This means high-value information is surfaced before we even ask. “Google’s true holy grail is understanding, anticipating and serving our intent,” pundit Jeff Jarvis wrote in the Guardian.

In short, everything is becoming measurable and annotated. The war for attention is being shaped by machines. Therefore, the solution for marketing communications professionals, just like in the Terminator movies, is to fight machines with machines. What does this mean? First, we all need to become more data driven. Marketing is still far too rooted in creative hunches. We need to adopt some of the mentality that pervades cultures like Google and Facebook. Every decision and program should be based on data and facts, while respecting consumer privacy. Second, professionals at every level need a do-it-yourself mentality when it comes to research. Many tools for gathering incredible data, research and insights are free and easy to use. Finally, every program should be considered a work-in-progress. Launch early and iterate often based on the data. Marketing is in perpetual beta, and data is our constant companion.

By Steve Rubel Senior Vice President, Director of Insights

Edelman 250 Hudson Street New York, New York 10013

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