Marketing and Research Consulting for a Brave New World
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What were the hot topics in 2016 for marketers and researchers and what do they portend for 2017? One barometer comes from over tens of thousands of page views of my blog content in 2016.

Suggested marketing priorities for 2017 form a kind of digital waterfall…

1. User based marketing will grow dramatically. Marketing will become increasingly data driven and user based, as programmatic ad buying will continue to grow at 20-30% and account for the majority of digital display (static plus video) advertising. Mobile will continue to be a big part of this growth. User based marketing (e.g. programmatic) means that the advertiser defines the audience by choosing which users and moments to serve messages, as opposed to traditional media buying of a whole audience that a media property (like a TV show) delivers.

2. The switch to unified IDs as part of a cogent data strategy. To support user-based marketing, marketers will need to work with their media agencies to create a unified data structure where data are integrated across devices for the same user so the marketer can understand and influence the full journey.

3. Evolve the way we assess marketing effectiveness. Fueled by Unified IDs, the use of multi-touch attribution (MTA) will rise dramatically in importance over the next two years. While marketing mix modeling will still be used, it cannot satisfy the need for fast pivoting via programmatic (and other digital) ad serving. That is why MTA…user based modeling leveraging unified IDs…will more than double its level of use by marketers (research I helped to conduct for the MMA).

4. Think in journeys. Consumers arrive at favorable destinations for our brand (buy, become loyal, engage, advocate) and we want to know how they got there. With unified IDs, it is possible to track the range of messages a given user was exposed to across screens and time.  Journeys give marketers “right message, right time” guidance, leading to different media activities based on where a user is in their personal journey.  For example, hypothetically, video activates desire while mobile offers drive choice.

5. Solve for brand. As marketers strive to deliver the right message at the right time they have to always be mindful that marketing is first and foremost about brand building so don’t only optimize media and message combinations for conversions.  Make sure you are also optimizing for brand meaning and salience.

6. Researchers will have to retool for user based marketing in a digital age. Researchers can be an enabler of this marketing transformation if they commit to integrating surveys with the company’s digital profiling data. Leading suppliers who now offer this are your backbone for retooling.

  • Addressing new product failure rates. Watch for a new concept analytics service I will be offering in 2017 in partnership with a leading media analytics company that will leverage digital targeting approaches to drive up new product trial by 20-30% or more.
  • Segmentation relevance.  Consumer segmentation is only useful if it drives greater response to advertising.  Otherwise, segmentation insights and inspiration are mirages in the desert. Build your segmentation to be findable at scale onto your DMP and prove that it leads to audiences who respond better to messages created for them.
  • From brand and comms tracking to guidance systems.  Trackers are retrospective analyses of surveys that I find have little impact on the business.  Guidance systems are dynamic and real time, integrating all available digital and social data with surveys so that marketers can adjust activities in flight. MTA is a form of guidance system but it would benefit from research involvement to ensure that activities are being optimized for brand strength not just short term performance.

Now my top ten blogs in 2016, starting with the most viewed…

The 5 point purchase intention questions sucks, or does it? New product failure rates are unacceptably high (80%).  Yes the legacy PI question is inadequate but old school media strategy is also to blame. We can do much better by leveraging data driven capabilities to target likely triers.

Four new approaches to consumer segmentation in a digital age. My most shared blog ever (over 3,200 shares). Traditional consumer segmentation is maddening because it is rarely actionable.  Here is how to fix this in a digital and social age.

Why you should not follow Procter’s latest marketing advice. Marc Pritchard, the CMO at Procter said their problem with Facebook advertising was that they targeted too narrowly.  Well, the future of marketing IS narrow… in fact it is one user and ad serving moment at time!  Proof? Programmatic is now about 70% of digital display and fast growing. Because this happens billions of times per day, this is the new way to build reach…one user at a time.

Fixing a brand called marketing research.  Most research is n=1000 and delivered in “slow time”, while marketing is getting insights from their media agency at scale from the DMP that immediately lead to targeting action. Research’s “brand image” must exude expertise about the digital world. Marketer-side research must find the suppliers who can deliver real-time, predictive, and fully integrated (digital, social, etc.) reporting and insights.

How to build brand relevance into your media plans. Four years before Google adopted “moments that matter”, I wrote this blog that gives 8 specific ideas for marketers to focus efforts on relevant moments.

When are brand extensions a good idea? This reflects the same angst as the “5 point purchase intention sucks” blog…80% of new products (INCLUDING line extensions) still fail, and we still underperform our forecasts. We CAN do better.

Four marketing innovation lessons from McDonald’s all day breakfast. The idea was so obvious, what took them so long?  Marketers need to remove blinders… operational (how we make it), thinking in product categories, and precedent (the way it’s always been done.)

What will it take to get multi-touch marketing right? How do marketers curate the consumer journey as they move effortlessly and wonderfully chaotically from screen to screen on the way to a purchase? You need to put the consumer in the equation. Literally, this is missing from marketing mix modeling and the reason why multi-touch attribution will rise dramatically over the next two years.

Brand loyalty, the link between attitudes and behaviors 20 years later. This is my most read academic journal article and the principles are just as true today. What is different is that now marketers have the ability to activate.  Those who have a mid-range probability of buying your brand are the “Persuadables”.  Target messages to them via your DMP with the right profiling variables.

Not a blog but a slideshare presentation: What behavioral economics can teach us about shoppers (Presentation given at IIeX Behavioral Conference 2015).  The shopper journey is driven by shortcut decision heuristics and smart marketers can hijack purchases intended for other brands.

For your reference…prior years hot topics…

Hot topics 2015

Hot topics 2014

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2 Responses to “Marketing and research hot topics for 2016 and 6 priorities for 2017”

  1. Art Christiani

    Great assessment from someone who has been in the industry for a long time and who is Consumer Centric and Brand Centric.
    The importance of MTA at the individual shopper / consumer level is even more relevant and important today. The challenge is how to think Macro and Global while implementing on a Local and Individual level as touch points increase dramatically, and while media fragmentation, audience fragmentation and one to one digital media struggles to impact Brand Sales and ROI on a National, Brand Profit and Loss Statement level and while CMO’s continue to struggle with the transition to one to one marketing for National Brands use to National Marketing.
    The Future is Bright to those with the insights and knowledge into MTA ROI by person, and we move to one to move marketing, acting local while thinking Global.
    Joel is one of the most qualified professionals to lead this discussion and push the industry forward.

  2. Joel

    Thanks for adding to the discussion from an industry leader such as yourself.