Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Notes from the FutureM Conference

The FutureM conference in Boston yesterday featured an interesting panel on the Future of Advertising, featuring executives from DataXu, Mullen, Localytics, Digitas, Arnold and CampusLIVE.

The panelists agreed that future of advertising will be measurable
-- even as some said there are some things you can't measure.


Though one panelist said that "Some things that are not yet measurable may soon be measurable -- and be developed by someone in this room."

Currently what we measure traffic, click-throughs, etc., but that doesn't necessarily capture key factors that marketers need to measure and understand, such as being able to the value of community and other long-term issues, including how do you link content and marketing initiatives to the long-term actions.

One frustration noted by the panel is that organizations don't necessarily want to spend money to measure.

Another question the panel examined was: Is conventional advertising dead?  Some on the panel Some said conventional advertising is dead -- just like some say the press release is dead. I disagree.

The problem with looking at online vs. conventional marketing is that people access info across platforms so you need communicate that way.  It's how you use advertising, a number of panels said. And it's important not to put initiatives into buckets. I remember that a cable client kept referring to the difference between cable and TV, and I pointed out that for those outside the industry, most people look at the TV and their remote, and don't think too much about the differences between cable and broadcast. Now, given the range of ways we interact with media -- via TV/cable, smartphones, tablets, etc., brands must look cross-platform, to enable people to access content whichever way they may want. And how they access content changes throughout the day; during their commute, it may be radio. While grabbing coffee, it may be their smartphone. During the day, it's their computer. And somewhere along the way, it's their tablet. The point some panelists made was that you ignore potential customers if you ignore one platform.

That holds true for those focusing exclusively on social media.  Twitter should not be the only channel. Remember, one panelist said: Twitter is not as pervasive as it is in the room.  Companies need to make it easy for people to connect, whichever way they want to.

That said, a big point of discussion was the need to monetize and measure social media, and not be afraid to experiment.

One of the last questions taken up by the panel is do most brands need a mobile app? The answer: assess the need for a mobile app on a case-by-case basis.  But every brand needs to make sure their sites are mobile-optimized. (One panelist made the point that if Android continues to gain share over iOS on smartphones, optimized mobile sites will be more important that apps, since the app-based approach and app market really belongs to Apple.)

The final question was whether panelists feel we're in the middle of a unprecedented marketing transformation.  One panelist said, "No. I think we're just at the beginning."

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