Real-Time Marketing Is the New Reality
Is there such a thing as a real-time marketing plan? Nancy Hill, President-CEO of the 4A’s, opened a session with that question this week during OMMA Global at Advertising Week.
Hill moderated “’Real-Time’ Spells Real Change for Media, Marketers and Customers,” a panel that discussed all the challenges and issues involved in real-time interaction with consumers who are online 24/7.
As the panel revealed, the approach to real-time marketing differs for companies depending on whether their messaging is primarily B2C or B2B. Lisa Shallett, Head of Brand Marketing and Digital Strategy at Goldman Sachs, is in the B2B camp, and the company found itself backing in to content marketing because financial regulation and legal issues prevent the global investment bank from taking part in real-time conversations.
Because of those restrictions, Shallet told Hill that “oxymoronically,” Goldman Sachs needed a “real-time” marketing playbook that lays out all the possible “what if’s” of any situation and how their legal, compliance and marketing departments must come together to respond, if indeed, they choose to respond. The company is more disposed to listening to online chatter using tools such as Radian6 to at least have a sense of sentiment about the Goldman Sachs brand in worlds beyond finance. “It’s ironic to have a playbook for what ought to be spontaneous,” Shallet said.
At the other end of the spectrum was Alexis Maybank, founder, Chief Strategy Officer of online fashion retailer Gilt Groupe. Maybank said the site has evolved beyond an e-commerce site to a full-on content channel that provides a different experience each time a person lands on the home page and begins clicking deeper into the content. She explained that the company has invested heavily in real-time, regression analysis that is based on every click, every season preference, color, size and beyond.
“We need to keep up on a real-time basis,” Maybank said. “If someone is buying maternity clothing, we have to change their experience on the site very quickly.” Part of what keeps consumers coming back, she added, is that the Gilt Groupe site feels to consumers as if the brand understands their interests and serves up, based on past behaviors, the products and information most relevant to that person.
Another panelist, Lori Hiltz, CEO of Havas Media, North America, is somewhere in between. As the agency handling large consumer retail chains that offer various goods and services (Sears, Kmart), Havas Media has started from the inside of its own organization and worked outwards to serve its client.
Keeping a real-time dialogue going with consumers on behalf of clients that sell everything from bras to lawnmowers is extremely complex, and Havas Media has made significant investments across its talent base to cultivate fluency in data, optimization, algorithms and online behavior.
One of the biggest pitfalls in real-time marketing, the panelists all agreed, was knowing how to respond to negative feedback or conversations. That’s why, in addition to investing in the science side of the business, marketers and agencies need employees who understand the relationship aspects of any business.
Panelist Porter Gale, author of Your Network Is Your Net Worth, said that Red Bull, Old Spice and some entertainment properties are leading the way in terms of the real-time marketing conversation. She pointed to a movie studio that recently held a Google Hangout on the red carpet at a film opening.
Hiltz said her client, Dannon, is responding instantaneously to shopper marketing data right at the supermarket check out, such is the “yogurt world battle” going on now because of the popularity of Greek-style yogurt.
Ultimately, the panelists agreed, driving more engagement with consumers and viewers by optimizing their social graphs is an ever-changing process and will remain so for quite some time.