Yesterday I posted some highlights from my time at the iStrategy digital media conference. Having written about day 1, it seems sensible to follow up with a post about day 2.
Using content to complement your brand
The morning keynote was an awe-inspiring look at the Red Bull Media House, founded in 2007, 20 years after the drink/brand organisation, to focus on creating a media business – building a structure and organisation for the commercialisation of Red Bull’s content assets.
Red Bull’s Chief Commercial Officer, Alexander Koppell, believes that brilliant content should be at the centre of every great brand. But, with content as the company’s major asset, Red Bull found that they needed to consider how to create more; to create a platform and tools; and to handle distribution. Rather than turn to agencies the Red Bull Media House was created as a 360 degree media business with content, its own production facilities, marketing communication, publishing press, music label publishing, broadcasting, platform provision, and worldwide distribution. As a result, Red Bull is the third most influential social brand globally.
Now, as YouTube has become the world’s global video pool, it has partnered with brands to move into content creation. Red Bull is one of those brands and this is just one of the results:
Koppell summed up by highlighting Red Bull’s key focus areas of:
- Brilliant content
- Multichannel execution
- Reach and monetisation
- And a new paradigm based on Google’s Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT).
As for his advice to other organisations? Build structures, invest inside your company – if you go for third parties be aware of the risks to you as a content player – and at same time build up your asset (be that technology, events or Formula 1 racing teams!). Whatever your core product is, make sure that you can differentiate your company from its competitors!
Online video: great to watch, even better to share
The next session was a panel on video and, as is usual with this format, I found my mind wondering to other things – panel discussions just don’t engage me! I did get to a session later in the day on the topic (more in a moment) but a couple of quick points I picked up were:
- We have always loved video but it’s now easier to distribute and consume.
- An emotional video ad that makes you feel good about a brand is unlikely to lead to an immediate purchase – it may influence future decisions though.
- And, as for the future of social video:
- Expect to see more value exchanges – e.g. watch a video in preference to a micro-transaction (e.g. buying a crop in Farmville).
- Infomercials will become common.
- The democratisation of video creation (as the barrier to content creation is now very low) will create an explosion of channels and an amazing amount of content.
- Brands can be content creators too and users will decide whats good or not (great stuff will bubble to the top).
The accidental social campaign: understanding the multiplier effect
As the conference moved into a series of breakout sessions, I decided to join Jonathan Wolf (@JonathanWWolf)’s workshop looking at creating the multiplier effect – taking advantage of user generated content and using it as many times as possible to maximise value.
In stark contrast to a later workshop, Jonathan took a refreshing approach to self-promotion, joking about having six slides to present about his company first, and then saying “not really” and moving straight into content. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jonathan. That, combined with some quality advice is an example of thought leadership. And it meant that I did actually read the literature about BazaarVoice rather than blanking them from that point forward (take note Wildfire and Telligent – more on Telligent in a moment…).
Jonathan outlined a couple of case studies where companies used user generated content to build loyalty and brand advocacy:
- White Stuff‘s UHT campaign gave customers the opportunity to put their man on a charity calendar. In step 1, people contributed stories/photos and participated, but step 2 was to get people back to vote on the best stories – a second wave of the campaign (for free as heavy lifting already done). Once the finalists had been selected, White Stuff got people to come back again and vote once more (and if your partner was there you would have got all your friends to vote…). Now they have selected a winner but not told us who yet – so expect a fourth wave as they market back out to us – combined with the press opportunities as this is a charity calendar… In all, the same content has been (or will be) used four or five times so the return on investment is great!
- Domino’s Pizza had a brand crisis in the US – so they reformulated their food and gave people insight into how things work (Amy is making your pizza, Joe is delivering your pizza) with a pizza tracker. On top of this, they encouraged customers to write reviews and the company put them on screen in New York’s Times Square. This campaign has several effects: it gives insight and solicits feedback; it is used internally as a measure of how well the company is doing; it engages employees to have pride in their work (employees don’t want their name on a bad review…); it serves as an advertisment (in Times Square); and it’s driven from the web – so the Times Square activity acts as an ad campaign in itself.
After whetting our appetite, Jonathan stopped and got us to have a go at a practical exercise. But I wanted more… the workshop was good, and well-run, but it was a lot to squeeze into a short session which ultimately led to us over-running the time-slot. Hey ho, I guess that was the brief…
Video: it’s how we see the world
In this next session, Google’s Harry Davies (@HarryDavies) gave some insight into the world of online video (and advertising… after all he does work for Google!)
He’s absolutely correct that it’s to video we turn to to understand great events (citing an example from 9/11 – watching events unfold on the TV in his boss’ office [I did that too]).
Harry’s hypothesis is that video is the closest media we have to life and that makes it “super-important”. And advertisers have long understood the magic of television and used that so that they can ride on back of great content and provokes an emotional response (for example the John Lewis Always a Woman ad) – which attempts to connect with customers on an emotional level:
Quoting from Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking fast and slow”, Harry highlighted that we make snap decisions based on emotional connections – and that’s what TV ties into. Online provides an opportunity to take the emotional journey further.
Some more snippets from Harry’s talk:
- On average people watch 4 hours and 2 minues of TV each day and 54 minutes of online video viewing – but half of the ads are not watched, so Google developed skippable ad format to avoid annoying users.
- Skippable ads are good from an advertiser perspective – getting rid of those who don’t care about your product/service and retaining those who are truly engaged (you don’t pay for those who skip).
- So what’s next? The democratisation of video – examples include:
- Jamal Edwards, who went from a teenager with a video camera to creating SBTV (the UK’s leading online youth broadcaster).
- Walk off the Earth’s cover of Goyte’s “Someone I used to Know” becoming successful and driving interest in the original song!
- Red Bull becoming a media company from a soft drinks company…
- Money Saving Expert videos advising on home finances (all Financial Services companies could be doing this) – and this plays into an idea of “branded usefulness” – become useful to people every day (far easier than being funny or entertaining every day).
Of course, Harry demonstrated some YouTube functionality, like trends, charts and video statistics (look for the button next to the play count), but that was in context, and useful… so not really pitching.
Summarising the session in four points:
- Emotional ads work.
- Follow the user (where are they watching – if there is an 80/20 split between TV and online watching – split your budget and plan accordingly).
- Only pay for engaged users.
- Develop content for the new video generation (you don’t have to stay with traditional ads – think about generating your own content – people don’t care where it came from as long as it’s good).
How to transform your marketing with social customer engagement
This session promised a lot. And delivered very little.
In short, Telligent showed us a 3 minute corporate video (with United States contact details) and then their partner (Insites Consulting) spent some time telling us about themselves… Hello? We are not here to hear your pitch!
I very nearly walked out of the session at this point, but I stayed to listen to Insites talking about the co-creation that they did with Heineken and upcoming designers to create the nightclub of the future (I could have just read Insites’ blog entry – and there is an expanded version of the slide deck online) but there was nothing about some of the other brands mentioned in the conference brochure (Heinz, Unilever).
I’ve used Telligent’s software (Community Manager) in the past and I hope it’s a lot better now (that was in 2003). I won’t be engaging with them though based on their performance at iStrategy. And next time I see a presentation is being delivered by a “Sales Director”, I should know better than to expect anything other than a pitch…
Post lunch, the conference moved in to a Dragons’ Den-esque session with six companies each given six minutes to pitch their product. It was a bit of fun – and quite interesting, although, by this point I had one eye on the clock as I needed to leave soon…
Redefining marketing success: why ROI and marketing don’t always belong in the same sentence
The first thing that this panel did was to redefine the topic to “A decade of focus on metrics (measurement, accountability and ROI) is inhibiting innovation and progress in social…”
Moderated by Thomas Brown (@thinkstuff), the panel included Georgios Kolovos (@gkolovos) Azeem Azar (@azeem), Delphine Remy-Boutang (@delphineRB), Joshua Graff (@joshgraff) and Marc Munier (@marcmunier) and there were some interesting points put forward.
Some of the key points raised in this debate included:
- The Days of Don Draper are over – we need goals, not just eureka moments – and what better goal than ROI? Combine this with an iterative process to get closer to that goal.
- Metrics make sense when you know what to do and you have done it before but don’t make sense for innovation. To deal with this and avoid being late to the table 90-95% of time needs to be driven by metrics (in order to be operationally efficient) but 5-10% should be around experimentation, within a framework and with the right people.
- Scale is an issue – in a large organisation it’s not so much about new ideas but ideas that are scalable. That means that a rigorous approach to assessing innovation is needed, and process and rigour come with ROI. Marketers need to be bold enough to agree that others brought an idea to market and also to say it’s not viable for us.
- Perhaps, consider a “return on ignorance”, which also has a cost. Eurostar spent €6n to reduce journey times but meanwhile customer feedback suggests they are less concerned about journey times and want Wi-Fi on trains. We need to listen to our customers – not so much for the I in innovation as the C in collaboration.
- It’s not either/or (ROI or not) but striking a balance: data vs. creativity; and data vs. innovation. Data driven marketing decisions help drive innovation by better understanding consumer behaviour, segmenting customers and what they are doing, we can be more thoughtful and creative. Data, creativity and innovation are not mutually exclusive and the greatest innovations come from a balance: work with data, innovate and then mesh with creativity.
- Marketing needs invest ahead of curve (unlike sales, finance, customer service, etc. who can ramp up as need to based on sales, invoices, customer interaction, etc.).
Going global: how Ford Motor Company sets the tone for a global social media strategy
I had to leave early and missed the final keynote, scheduled to be delivered by Scott Monty (@ScottMonty) from Ford although I understand he was unable to travel and Alex Hultgren (@AlexHultgren) stood in for him. Even so I’m sure it would have been a pretty interesting close to the conference as Scott’s story at Ford is an often-quoted case study on crisis management and I’m sure they have a pretty good grip on social media with lots of advice for the rest of us. In leui of my own opinions, I’ve picked some tweets from others that were in the session
Yesterday I said that I had mixed feelings about iStrategy and the major letdown for me was the apparent inability for certain presenters to avoid their own marketing pitches. I’m told by one of the conference organisers that guideline number 1 for speakers is “do not pitch”. I guess you can’t help some people but it’s particularly galling when “social media gurus” and marketing professionals don’t understand the difference between promoting your brand from a thought leadership perspective and turning your audience off with thinly (or not so thinly) disguised sales tactics.
On the whole though, iStrategy has let me take stock (and think a little about my own future direction) as well as to arm me with additional knowledge about the world of digital media (although it’s also true that some of that knowledge can be obtained from free events too – I’ve written on these pages about Dell’s B2B Social Media Huddles and about Digital Surrey and those are just two examples). Nevertheless, for busy marketing professionals, iStrategy should represent a pretty good return in their (time) investment – particularly if they are grappling with their own organisation’s move into the brave new world of connected consumers and data-driven marketing.
It has a good mix of keynotes, workshops, case studies, networking and the ever-present panel (in a variety of formats) and, whilst not all formats will appeal all of the time, there should be something in there that works for everyone.
That’s not the end of my iStrategy coverage on this blog – I’ve got some additional notes that I’m likely to shape into blog posts over the coming days and weeks but, in the meantime, I’ll be switching modes, back from geek marketeer into solution architect as I fill the rest of my week with the immediate day-job concerns around IT strategy and governance…