I read a post today on The MIT Technology review. The author, Michael Wolff, called his post, “The Facebook Fallacy”, with the long sub-title of: “For all its valuation, the social network is just another ad-supported site. Without an earth-changing idea, it will collapse and take down the Web.”
If you think that’s strident, a few paragraphs into his article, he states, “The daily and stubborn reality for everybody building businesses on the strength of Web advertising is that the value of digital ads decreases every quarter, a consequence of their simultaneous ineffectiveness and efficiency. The nature of people’s behavior on the Web and of how they interact with advertising, as well as the character of those ads themselves and their inability to command attention, has meant a marked decline in advertising’s impact.”
Hoo boy! A sobering assessment, but one I totally agree with. The trend is crystal clear. Here’s the opening paragraph from a Yahoo Finance’s article from January 22nd 2013:
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Revenue from Google Inc's core Internet business outpaced many analysts' expectations during the crucial holiday quarter and advertising rates fell less than in previous periods, pushing its shares up more than 4 percent.
Everyone was happy because the rate fell more slowly than it has been doing so for some time now. There’s no need to sell your Google shares just yet, though: They maintain or increase revenues by expanding the base of people using Adwords, and they have also expanded into other markets by buying companies like Motorola. But if I had any Facebook shares, I'd sell them. Better yet, I'd short them!
But lets see if we can find any additional trends. Here’s another article, this one on the Direct Marketing News site today.
Nikesh Arora, Google's SVP and Chief Business Officer, reported during the company's quarterly results call, that there are 3 important trends to watch out for in 2013:
1) Brand investment in the digital channel
2) the move to solution suites
3) demand for cross-media measurement.
Arora said this of #1: “more than at any point in the last decade of online advertising, we're at the point where major brand advertisers are finally looking to digital media as a central part of their marketing efforts.” In other words, the big brands have woken to the fact that you can use social media, especially Twitter and Blogs, to build your own image of your brand directly with your audience. It’s less expensive than doing it via print, radio and TV ads.
Arora said, concerning the 2nd trend, ““Our clients and partners want complete solutions that work across all screens: desktop, mobile, tablet and, in the future, television,” he said. “And also [they want solutions that] work with all kinds of formats, whether they're search, display or video ads.”
Of course he's referring to an Ad solution rather than a marketing package and its associated bits like your website. But the trend ties in with our own experience: Today we only build websites based on responsive designs to ensure that they are usable on mobile devices. And we all know how ease of use is a powerful motivator. Add ease to the time it takes to post all the social media tweets, blogs, comments and so on, and you can see why people want a single all-encompassing solution.
And for his 3rd trend, Arora said, ““My experience is that businesses might allocate experimental budgets to new areas, but they invest serious money only when they can measure the results,” Right on the money in my book. We’ve written previously on this trend and one of the most popular pages on our website is the Return On Marketing Investment or ROMI Calculator. Supporting this further is the fact that one of the most requested consulting services we are asked to provide these days, is help on calculating ROI.
These three trends are here to stay in 2013, but what do they mean to you?
Starting with Arora’s 3rd item, you really do have to start using ROI to justify your campaigns. And honestly, the best advice I can give you here, short of you hiring us to help you set this up, is to take a look at these pages on our site. They will educate you on what ROI is and how you can calculate it:
The top ten ROI calculators on the Internet
How to calculate the ROI of your website
How to build your own ROI calculator for those special applications.
Now that you can evaluate with some precision which campaigns work well and which ones you should cut, you are in a position to determine what the mix should be. I’d caution you about focusing too much effort on Brand Building, though (Arora’s 1st trend). Brands tend to be extremely important for B2C solutions, and in competitive situations when B2B companies are vying for the same client. But many B2B companies are small and lack brand recognition. Yet they compete well by focusing on the strength of their solutions. By all means build the brand, but don’t do it at the expense of your other marketing efforts. Remember in B2B marketing, it’s more about what you give to your prospects to educate themselves with, than it is about how great your brand is. I’d go so far as to say that what builds your brand the best in the B2B space is literally how well you educate people before they buy from you – that is, after all, the very essence of what thought-leadership is all about.
As for Arora’s 2nd trend, the move to a single dashboard, there are already several free tools available which help in this regard. Hootsuite is a great way to post updates to all of your social media from its single dashboard. You can also schedule them to go out at appropriate times and thus can do what I do every Monday morning. I use a news reader to hand me all relevant articles in our industry which were published since the previous Monday, and then I compose a list of Tweets to send out over the next 5 business days. 3 or 4 a day at predetermined intervals. Bingo, the bulk of my Twitter activity is handled in 20 minutes a week. There are similar tools to post your articles simultaneously to Facebook, LinkedIn and your own blog, and so on. Search for social media plugins for your CMS and you should find a few.
We're here to help – our offer of free consulting is available to anyone in North America. Yes, you did read that correctly. We’ll provide a free one-hour, no-obligation consultation on any topic dealing with Inbound Marketing and Automation. Just contact us to arrange the time and date.