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Signposts On the Road Ahead

There may still be a role for traditional quant and qual methods here. But my belief is that we’ll have to develop entirely new ways of engaging, listening to, and understanding consumer interactions with digital channels.

To wrap up the theme of transformation and innovation for this week, here are a trio of interesting articles related to digital marketing, new models for branding, and the role of agencies in the age of social media for your reading pleasure!

First, ResearchShare (which is a great all around resource, by the way!) has showcased an interview between Marketing Fray and Copernicus‘ Eric Paquette, a Senior Vice President at the firm who’s leading the digital charge, and posed three questions about how and what marketers can do to make good digital marketing decisions. The conversation is wide ranging, but it focuses on how MR suppliers can help clients develop meaningful digital marketing strategies using traditional, new, and emerging tools. At the end of the interview Eric offers a pertinent observation about where clients are in terms of understanding the broad digital space via research techniques:

Today, these companies have begun to realize that the “old” way of doing things now only solves for a small fraction of their communications plan. The old links between targets and traditional media use still hold value, yet too many critical unanswered questions linger. The smart companies out there will start to fill in these information gaps with research well-designed for the digital marketing world.

Second, the always useful WARC has two interesting articles. The first one is about Unilever’s evolving approach to branding and marketing in response to several major trends that are reshaping consumer preferences and behavior. The key drivers of the strategy are explained by Keith Weed, Unilever’s CMO:

The main factors behind its policy in this area include the digital revolution and the increasing importance of emerging nations like Brazil, Russia, India and China.

“Digitalisation and globalisation feed on each other,” said Weed. “The more global you are, the more digital you become, or the more digital you are, the more global you become.”

This seems to be an important  message for MR; to effectively meet the needs of global clients, a deep understanding of the digital world and the emergence of new engagement channels is critical to success.

The second article from WARC is under the headline Agencies must “add value” to thrive, at least according to  Kevin Brennan, the UK Marketing Director for Kellogg’s, who I think is probably a reputable source. Kevin goes on to say a few interesting things:

The cereal manufacturer has recently sought to tap into various new media channels, such as placing social media at the heart of the launch campaign for its new product, Krave, earlier this year.

However, Brennan suggested that uncertainty is widespread about the role  brands should play on sites like Facebook and YouTube, as well as their presence on search and shopping portals.

…Agencies at the leading edge in this sector will thus be able to attract clients looking for guidance and generate considerable revenues as a result, as was the case in the “golden age” of advertising….”It’s about how you can add value,” he said.

My take on the message for MR is that in order to help our agency or direct clients, we better understand the channels they are exploring. This also means that we better have the techniques developed to deliver maximum value, quickly and effectively, that captures a true picture of the social eco-system and it’s users.

There may be a role for traditional quant and qual methods here, but my belief is that we’ll have to develop entirely new ways of engaging, listening to, and understanding consumer interactions with digital channels. If we do that, then we’ll meet Kevin’s challenge of  “adding value”. If we choose to keep on doing what we’ve always done and trying to retro-fit old tools to meet the needs of new realities, well… good luck with that.

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