Monday, February 26, 2007

Top 10 Marketing Innovations that will Change Everything

An extract from the Evil Marketer that i thought was very interesting .... Any comments???

Top 10 Marketing Innovations that will Change Everything

The U.S., despite slowly losing its dominance in science and technology as the world experiences further flattening, will continue to lead the world in its export of culture and popular media. I assume there’s not much debate about that — one can certainly imagine the next Microsoft or Google coming from India or maybe China, but not the next Madonna or Star Wars or Friends. Central to that cultural strength is our ability to market, as well as the increasing blend of marketing and media/entertainment we’re seeing every day. As the platform for that entertainment changes drastically from the boxes in our living room to our computer screen and mobile phone display and ipod, and as the source of that entertainment changes from centralized behemoths to individual users, marketing is going to change drastically as well. Those changes are going to fundamentally alter the way we experience our media, the brands we use, and even our relationships to each other and the ways we make an income, and because of our influence in these areas, they will change the world.Here, briefly, are 9 of those changes. Why not 10? I’m an evil marketer and I wouldn’t feel right giving you exactly what you expected, that’s why. *evil laugh* Though not written in stone, the technology and/or marketing models already exists for many of them, and the others seem not only feasible but likely.

1. The Rise of the Influencer Network
The notion in marketing of an influencer — someone that drives customers to certain brands based on their level of trust and respect — has been around a long time. But never has it been more important. Influencers used to be much harder to find, had a much smaller base of customers, and were impossible to track; all of that has changed. Anyone anywhere with a certain level of expertise in a certain niche can use a blog to gain the trust of a certain amount of users; these blogs are easy to find, links from them are easy to track, and the potential user base of a blog is almost unlimited. All that’s left is a centralized system to organize these influencers and put them in contact with advertisers so that anyone with a little influence in a little niche can profit.

2. Free Internet, Mobile, and Cable
All of these services are already being consolidated into one package by providers. The amazing amount of data available to a single company that can track your internet usage, phone calls, and TV watching habits is worth a lot of money to advertisers. If you’re willing to let your provider share that info with advertisers (fairly anonymously), they can afford to give you the bandwidth for free, and will.

3. Language and Economic Barriers Disappear
Real time online translation is just a few years away. As soon as those language barriers disappear, not only can you have close friends anywhere in the world regardless of nationality (greatly expanding the power of social networks and the marketing tied to them), but us evil marketers will have instant access to markets that previously had these barriers in place. If you think our culture and the associated marketing machine behind it is powerful now (having already been given an enormous boost by the internet), just wait until our cultural influence can spread even more easily to people around the world and marketing messages and platforms are automatically multilingual. Combine that with a rapidly emerging middle class in India and China and potential audience for products grows exponentially. Influencers in each cultural niche will still be needed to craft messages, but that should be handled by #1 above.

4. Google Loses its Core Audience to Wikis
Google is no longer my favorite search engine; it’s increasingly more driven by large advertisers (both paid and natural search) and I’ve found much better results using wikipedia or a service like sidekiq if I want to look for something more specific. I’m not the only one who feels that way, either. Most people in the industry seem to use Google more for competitive research than actual search. Next to stop using it will be people like my mom, and once they’ve lost her, the one trick pony will have a broken leg. The effects of this shift are hard to predict; but because they currently control about 50% of search and a huge chunk of every advertising dollar, the shift will certainly benefit smaller niche networks and start money flowing there instead. There will also be a shift back to content sites that actually contribute something to the conversation rather than just linking everywhere.

5. No More Starving Artists
An exaggeration of course — there will always be starving artists who deserve to starve. But now that anyone with any level of talent can find an audience, they should be able to monetize their talent via sponsorships or even direct marketing. We already see a rise in independent filmmakers and writers giving their works away for free in exchange for traffic and influence; once there are more systems in place to easily monetize this traffic and influence most people with talent should be able to make enough to cover food costs each month.

6. The Mobile Phone Rules Your World
I know, it already does. But we haven’t even touched the marketing potential of the device. Once we accept the use of our cell phones as a payment device, and once phone technologies like mobile coupons, map coupons, cameraphone scanners or mobile price comparison become more mainstream, the ways we shop — especially when we are buying offline — will change forever. Coupled with GPS and better mapping technologies, you will be alerted to coupons as you pass stores, or have the ability to recommend a product or movie to a friend with a phone-coupon — and you’ll get a commission for that referral. That sort of incentive will allow viral marketing to be trackable offline and will allow everyone to profit from brands and products they want to recommend.

7. Brands get Personal
In the under-rated movie Idiocracy, the protagonist finds himself in a future world where us evil marketers have essentially destroyed culture; among other effects, people are named after brands — Frito and Mountain Dew, for instance. While this is (probably) far-fetched, there will be much closer relationships between people and the brands they use in the future. We already see overt branding of sports figures and venues — NASCAR has given almost everything available for branding; the wildly successful Nike/Michael Jordan campaigns 20 years ago equated his airness with his shoes; almost all sports stadiums are now branded. This effort has been grounded in pure mass market branding — spending billions of dollars to make your brand ever-present without actually measuring the impact of the spend. What if instead Apple could “brand” the top 3 coolest students in every high school and actually measure the impact of them wearing their shirts, always having an iPod or iMac with them, promoting Apple on their MySpace account, etc? Social networks that concentrate on schools make the identification, the measurement and the organization of such a campaign possible. Which do you think would be more effective, spending a billion dollars on a TV commercial campaign or giving away $10,000 scholarships each to “brand” 100,000 teenagers?

8. True Behavioral Targeting
Behavioral targeting is in the stone age of its evolution at best. A consumer visits a car site, pop him (or her, you probably don’t even know) a car ad on the next page load. Yawn. What we evil marketers need are three things: more data, better data, and mo’ better data. We don’t have enough data on all of you yet because of those ridiculous concerns about privacy. Here’s a piece of news for you — we don’t care that you are a rich guy into women’s lingerie or a poor grandmother who visits the High Times website or a middle class teen goth who is downloading Barry Manilow mp3’s. Well, let me rephrase that — we do care about your gender, your economic status, and the things you might want to buy, but we could care less who you are. When all is said and done, we have the same interests as you do — not to show you ads that don’t matter to you or irritate you but instead show you ads for things you want and can afford and need right now. Let us know more about you — anonymously — and we will invest billions of dollars of our own money to develop technology that can target ads to you that will be so timely it will seem like we are in your head. You will know immediately that Macy’s is having a sale on panties or that the head shop around the corner is giving away a free one hitter with every bong purchase over $20 or that Barry has just released a limited edition box set, and you will love us for it. And as mentioned in #2 above, we’ll even give you stuff.

9. No More Ads
You read that correctly. And I didn’t mean, “No! More Ads?” either. Every time us evil marketers come up with a new way to push an advertisement at you, you figure out a way to ignore it. Spam, pop ups, tv commercials, banner ads — all of them are blockable or skippable or at worst ignorable. Even Google AdSense text links are starting to fade into the background for many savvy users and should start to lose their effectiveness over time. You’ve taught us something — you hate ads. Yet we spend billions giving you more of them. Why? I’d argue at this point it’s sheer laziness combined with old-school thinking and just general stiffness. There are so many more effective ways to make you discover our products — word of mouth, sponsorships, incentive marketing, product placement and more — all of which happen (or at least appear to happen) naturally and unobtrusively and will work much much better and are much much more measurable. None of the other 8 innovations above need standard ads to work, and most of them won’t even work with standard ads. Don’t get me wrong — you will be exposed to branding everywhere and your friends may be recommending products in exchange for commissions and you will have coupons and cash back offers popping up on your cell phone at appropriate times, but they won’t be ads as you know them now.

What do you think?

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