Altimeter Group

14 Nov

Flat Icons The New Trend In Web Design

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12 Nov

An Image Slideshow

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12 Nov

Web Design, The Do's and Don'ts

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Rebecca Lieb's picture

Content: Why Influence Matters

Do name-brand journalists still require the backing of name-brand media outlets?

Recent headlines strongly indicate that the byline is being rapidly decoupled from the masthead. Glenn Greenwald left The Guardian to start his own media venture, backed by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. Technology veteran Walt Mossberg, together with the redoubtable Kara Swisher, are walking out of the Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal door, taking the AllThingsD team with them. David Pogue abandoned the venerable New York Times for (of all possible media properties) Yahoo. And, most recently, Rick Berke is to leave the New York Times for Politico.

The quality these journalists have in common is a degree of brand value so high that it can be decoupled from the media property that launched and/or fostered it (and leveraged to support other endeavors). These are journalists who have become true influencers.

Influencers are influential individuals with an above-average impact on (some niche within) society. An influencer can be anyone from an international pop celebrity like Justin Bieber to a niche industry celebrity like Danny Sullivan.

Leveraging Niche Industry Influencers

A prime example of a niche industry influencer is Duncan Epping, a VMware engineer and blogger who’s mobbed by autograph seekers whenever he appears at an event. You’ve likely never heard of Epping, and you’re not alone — I hadn’t either, until I learned about him from John Troyer, VMware’s social media evangelist.

Troyer heads up the company’s vExpert program, which he describes as such:

Basically, [it’s] our content army. The vExperts are not all bloggers, but we do pull their posts together here. My goal is to have the first two pages on Google filled with their content when you search for VMware. But it can’t be all about us — it’s also about what’s in it for them. We give them free licenses for our software. We just granted 35 free tickets for our conference in Barcelona. We hire them to work on a freelance basis for us and for our agencies.

VMware’s investment in the vExperts program has paid off handsomely in terms of content marketing. The company has built an invaluable resource — a respected community of experts producing excellent content — that keeps on growing. This year, VMware anointed 581 vExperts to the five-year-old program. (Each year, there’s a formal application process; applicants get in based on their knowledge and contributions to the community.)

Influencers: Turning Owned Media To Earned Media

Leveraging influencers — be they journalists, bloggers, or subject-matter experts – can be an essential cornerstone of content strategy. Content is owned media which, by my definition, does not entail a media buy (i.e., it’s not advertising). However, just because you build it doesn’t necessarily mean they will come — at least, not without some degree of traction. Influencers can, in this regard, be a solid replacement for a media buy.

Consider this case study from an enterprise technology company. Twenty-four influencers were commissioned to create content around themes related to the brand’s products and initiatives. In total, 128 blog posts, infographics, videos and images were produced and shared on the influencers’ channels and promoted (with disclosure) across their social networks.

Please read the rest of this post on MarketingLand, where it originally published.

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Rebecca Lieb's picture

How to Request a Briefing

Quick housekeeping note:

As an analyst, I receive up to a dozen briefing requests per day from companies ranging from the smallest start-up to the largest enterprises. Conducting briefings is an essential part of what analysts do. It’s a big component of how we stay abreast in our coverage area and research agendas.

There’s an art to conducting a good briefing, something discussed in this space before. There’s also a great deal of logistical heavy lifting. Companies that request a briefing from me directly, no matter how well I know the business, or the person making the request, always receive this response:

Thanks for your inquiry regarding a briefing with Altimeter Group.

I must ask that you please fill out our briefing request form. It’s very much to your advantage to do so. All the analysts and researchers are alerted to the opportunity, so one briefing (if accepted) potentially goes much further inside the company. This also greatly streamlines the scheduling process on our side.

Briefing requests are circulated within the company weekly, so please allow at least two weeks for a response.

Appreciate your following our protocol on this.

I’d love to hear from you, but please – it’s got to be via the form, not my email address. I may not be able to accept a briefing due to scheduling conflicts, or incompatibility with my current research agenda. Wait a few months and try me again. But bear in mind that if we’ve conducted a briefing already in the past year, chances are very slim that we’ll be doing so again until 9 to 12 months have elapsed. If there’s company news, or a new product, a briefing isn’t necessarily in order if we’ve already gone over company background together – just send over the update.

Oh, and if you haven’t launched yet, it’s too early for a briefing. We’re going to ask you about clients and specific problems you’re solving for them. You need some real world traction before you’re ready to discuss your business with us.

Thanks for reading – and thanks for sending those briefing requests via the form!

Rebecca Lieb's picture

A Big Deal for Content Marketing: Oracle Buys Compendium

Today Oracle announced that it’s buying Compendium, a company that offers cloud-based content marketing workflow solutions.  Compendium will be integrated into the Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud.

 
At Altimeter Group, I’m just now embarking on a research project to map the content vendor landscape (slated for publication in Q1 of 2014). There are literally dozens and dozens of companies on the scene, all offering solutions that address small niches of the very broad content workflow requirements. The first and most immediately apparent finding is that there will be many such mergers and acquisitions in the sector.
 
Oracle’s acquisition of Compendium is indeed a watershed moment for content. It’s acknowledgement that content is the foundational element of marketing. Without content (and all that it necessitates: governance, workflow and strategy being paramount), there is no advertising, there is no social media, PR, or other forms of marketing. All are fed and nurtured by content,  the demands for which are increasing exponentially.
 
There’s also a need to integrate the existing tools on the market that facilitate content marketing: workflow, process, measurement, production, distribution, aggregation and curation, etc. Expect not only more acquisitions by enterprise players, but also M&A activity among the smaller companies as content “stacks” begin to form that address marketers’ end-to-end content requirements.
Rebecca Lieb's picture

FTC Legitimizes Native Advertising

There’s one sure way of telling if a new form of digital marketing is becoming legit: the FTC decides to take a long, hard look at it. And that’s exactly what they have announced they’ll do with native advertising, holding public hearings in Washington on December 4.

We’ve danced this dance before. Back in 2003, I testified at the FTC’s Spam Forum, which led to the enactment of the CAN-SPAM act passed by Congress the following year. The previous year, the FTC published guidance on search engine advertising. In 2000, the FTC published its first guidance on .com Disclosures, aimed at eliminating deception in digital advertising. Guidelines governing endorsements and testimonials (and, by extension, word-of-mouth marketing practices), were published in 2009.

Having published the first independent research report on native advertising just days before the FTC called this public hearing, it’s pretty gratifying to see what was clearly inevitable happy with such alacrity. Almost synchronously with the FTC’s announcement of hearings, brands ranging from the hyper-established New Yorker to not-yet-monetized start-up Pinterest were announcing new native advertising plans and offerings, joining a host of other publisher and social media platforms.

The IAB, anticipating the FTC’s move, already has a native advertising task force at work (disclosure: I’m not an IAB member, but I am a taskforce member).

In December, the FTC hopes to begin to answer questions about maintaining editorial integrity in the face of new advertising products that look a lot like content. The hearings will examine how these messages are presented, differentiated and disclosed to consumers as sponsored content. I’m particularly interested in learning more about consumer perceptions of native advertising (so little research has been conducted in this very nascent discipline), and how disclosures will transfer when native ads are shared and amplified in social channels.

Doubtless much will emerge from the hearings, as well as in the coming months around industry self-regulation for native advertising. (It’s highly unlikely that actual legislation will emerge on the issue.) In the meantime, I’d like to share the recommendations we make in our report on the issues of transparency, disclosure and trust in native advertising:

Transparency, disclosure, and trust: We’ve been through this before, collectively as an industry. As with the early days of search advertising, when paid search results required clear delineation from organic ones, or word-of-mouth marketing and pay-for-play blogging, industry standards will emerge around the disclosure of what’s paid and what’s editorial content on a variety of media platforms in addition to individual publisher policies. In addition to overt disclosure on publisher and social media platforms, a code of ethics is required to maintain editorial objectivity and the boundaries between publisher and editorial work. Until industry self-regulation emerges (the IAB already has a taskforce at work on the issue), it is absolutely imperative all parties err on the side of caution: too much, rather than too little, disclosure.

  1. Disclose that the placement is commercial in nature.
  2. Link to policies that govern such placement.
  3. Provide a channel for inquiry.

This column originally published in iMedia

Rebecca Lieb's picture

New Research: “Defining and Mapping the Native Advertising Landscape”

Not since the legislative debate over spam back in the early part of the millennium has a digital marketing term been so riddled by obfuscation and misunderstanding as native advertising.

A quick search of the term on Google returns an impressive 219 million results, yet to date there’s been no real definition of what marketers, publishers, agencies, social media platforms, or any other players in the digital ecosystem mean when they bandy it about.

With so much discussion centered around native advertising, we felt it critical to define the term, assess the nascent landscape, and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of this new-ish form of advertising. That is what we have done in research published today.

Based on over two dozen interviews with  publishers, social networks, brands, agencies, vendors and industry experts, Altimeter Group has arrived at the following definition of native advertising:

Native advertising is a form of converged media that combines paid and owned media into a form of commercial messaging that is fully integrated into, and often unique to, a specific delivery platform.

In other words, we believe native advertising lives at the intersection of paid and owned media, and is therefore a form of converged media. ‘Owned’ media is content that the brand or advertiser controls. Paid media is advertising: space or time that entails a media buy.

Does native advertising overlap with established forms of sponsored/branded/custom content? Advertorial? Indeed it does. Often differentiation can entail splitting hairs. Yet the evolution of so many unique platforms and technologies has made forms of advertising truly “native.” A sponsored tweet can be native only to Twitter, for example, just as a promoted Facebook post is native only to that one channel.

Native Advertising: The Pros and Cons

Native Advertising: Pros

In addition to defining the term, our research looks at how native advertising can benefit the ecosystem players: technology vendors, agencies, social platforms, publishers, and of course, brands and advertisers. Overall, we see opportunities for all players, these being the chief advantages for each player:

For publishers: new forms of premium inventory.

For social platforms: new advertising products.

For brands: new opportunities for attention, engagement, and message syndication.

For agencies: benefits from creative and media opportunities.

For technology: new solutions facilitate and scale both the creative and delivery aspects of native advertising.

The disadvantages? Scale is an issue, and clearly there are (haven’t were been through this before) issues around disclosure and transparency.

As with all Altimeter Group reports, “Defining and Mapping the Native Advertising Landscape” is Open Research. Please feel free to read it, download it and share it.

Tell us what you think.

If you like it, we’ll create more.

 

Cross-posted from the Altimeter Group blog.

Rebecca Lieb's picture

Consider Attending Our Content Marketing Workshop (Sept. 9, Milbrae CA)

Content marketing has gone from nearly zero on marketers’ radar to about a billion mph in just a few short years.  Organizations are realizing that content is effective – and cost-effective – for marketing as quickly as it becomes abundantly clear that content doesn’t just happen by itself.

We’re here to help. On September 9 in Milbrae, CA, Altimeter Group will host our first half-day content marketing workshop (as well as other Academy offerings).  Drawn from our research reports, books and other publications on the topic of content marketing, the course is designed to equip marketers with the fundamentals of content marketing and content strategy.

Why the relatively recent emphasis on content marketing?

Content marketing is nothing new. Marketers have been creating content for customers and prospects since the days of the newsletter and the filmstrip. However, digital has revolutionized both content creation and dissemination. Web sites. Twitter. Facebook. Blogs. YouTube. eBooks. White papers. Search engines. All of these channels (and many more) remove many of the hard cost barriers that were once a deterrent to creating and disseminating great content.  Yet as brands become publishers (some so successfully that they’re able to actually monetize the content they create), they face challenges.

Content may cost less to produce than advertising, but it’s heavily resource-intensive and only getting more so. Unlike campaign-based programs, content initiatives tend to be ongoing. Content is fundamental to social media, owned media channels and advertising – integrating brand, messaging and measurement between screens, workflow streams and channels is challenging. For many marketers, shifting from “push” to “pull” marketing requires learning entirely new skill sets. Finally, creating a functional content strategy — a foundation to govern and systematize content creation, dissemination, approval, measurement and maintenance —  is only just emerging as a discipline in digital marketing.

What are the two or three big ideas marketers should focus on?

Brands are media companies. Almost without exception, they’re creating content. We believe they should do so strategically and with a view toward integrating messaging across channels. Recent research we’ve published indicates content is now the primary driver of all marketing creative, including advertising. This demand changes workflow, agency and vendor relationships, and the way marketing initiatives are measured and monitored. Content is at the center of nearly all digital initiatives, and as the world becomes increasing digital, content will be the primary driver of all marketing in the very near future.

Who should attend this content marketing workshop? What should they expect, and what will they leave with?

Digital marketers, digital and social strategists, brand and product managers, as well as marketing/communications professionals should attend this workshop to learn the fundamentals of content marketing and content strategy, as well as how to apply those learnings to how their jobs and roles will change in the very near future. Participants will learn the five stages of content marketing maturity based on Altimeter Group research; the three primary types of content; the elements required to build a content strategy; as well as organizational and workflow requirements as they relate to enterprises large and small. It will be a fast-moving morning full of case studies and lean-forward participatory exercises.

Learn more and register for the content marketing workshop

Or consider workshops on Social Strategy and Social Analytics.

Image credit: Wikimedia

Cross-posted from the Altimeter Group blog

Rebecca Lieb's picture

Can the Collaborative Economy Really Scale?

I’m trying hard to be cautiously optimistic, but the pessimist in me may be winning.

New York City’s bike share program launched on Memorial Day. It’s the talk of the town, and the largest such program in the world. It’s also a sterling example of the Collaborative Economy, the topic of new and important research by my colleague, Jeremiah Owyang. He defines the movement as customers sharing goods and services rather than buying them, which redefines the buyer seller relationships while simultaneously disrupting and disintermediating longstanding business models.

From banking to labor, hospitality to fashion, transportation and real estate, his research lists over 200 digital platforms that have recently emerged to get you a ride to where you’re going, a place to lay your head when you get there, and even toys for your kids to play with that will be gone before they’re outgrown.

The sector is growing rapidly, yet so are forces opposing it: regulation (e.g. AirBnB is illegal in New York City), trust issues between buyers and sellers, and other uncertainty factors. Jeremiah’s advice for businesses is, in a nutshell, you won’t be able to beat them, so join them. Neiman Marcus could, for example, launch its own version of Rent the Runway (revenue aside, such a move could be worth its weight in data collection).

Where I question the growth potential of the collaborative economy is from the perspective of a resident of midtown Manhattan. Collaboration is built on a foundation comprised of common values, community standards and trust.

I’m no sociologist, but I’ve lived and traveled abroad enough to understand that (love ’em or hate ’em), community values are radically stronger, not to mention vigorously reinforced, when the communities in question are distinct, defined and undiluted. Multi-culti certainly has its advantages – that’s why I elect to live in the middle of Manhattan – but commonly held values and community standards are not one of our defining characteristics. Anyone who’s been here knows it’s not tidy like Switzerland. We don’t wait for the light to turn red before crossing the street, like everyone does in Germany. And no way, no how could you get the entire population of the five boroughs to wear a yellow shirt every single Monday (it’s like a site gag for the first-time Bangkok visitor).

My personal experience with the collaborative economy has always been as an enthusiastic early adopter, only to see that enthusiasm quashed as something tribal grows to global proportions. I was word-of-mouth cheerleader when Zipcar launched (I was such an early member customer service later thought my membership number lacked digits, it was so low). Fast-forward five years: the service goes wide, there’s mass advertising (as opposed to a constant reinforcement of consideration-for-the-next-user oriented rules), and pretty soon I’m picking up cars with empty gas tanks, or worse,  trying to pick up cars previous renters haven’t bothered to return.

Nice that they always cheerfully refunded my money – but what about that wedding I missed when I didn’t have wheels to get there? The day Avis bought Zipcar, I cancelled my membership.

Pictured above is a shiny new Citi Bike a mere four days after the service launched in Manhattan. It’s in a station a couple of blocks from my loft, facing a fast food joint. Half the bikes at that particular station are already receptacles for discarded cups, food wrappers and napkins. Likely some have yet to take their maiden voyage.

Enterprises and large corporations will participate in the collaborative economy. Citigroup, Avis – they already are. As the movement grows, this will present new challenges internally as well as externally. How will collaboration scale in communities like New York City, LA, or Chicago that just aren’t that…communal? And how can enterprises keep alive a spirit of entrepreneurship and looking out for the other guy, not just yourself?

Consumers won’t accept “just” a refund when collaboration and community erode. Betrayal of trust and community standards run much deeper, and will require innovations in the customer service aspect of the collaborative economy.

The next couple of years will be interesting indeed.

Link to the full Collaborative Economy report.

[slideshare id=22256657&doc=collabecon-draft16-130531132802-phpapp02&type=d]

Rebecca Lieb

Rebecca Lieb is a strategic advisor, consultant, research analyst, keynote speaker, author, and columnist.

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