competitive advantage

How Auto Marketers Look to Prove ROI


CTR and leads generated still key metrics in the industry

From the moment original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) began investing in web properties, marketers have used data to attempt to prove to executives that digital dollars deliver a return on investment (ROI).

From consideration stage conquests, build-tool utilizations, seasonal traffic lift, call-to-action conversions and hand-raisers, all the way to the tried-and-true “clicks,” key performance indicators (KPIs) are often laced with jargon. But they can sway entire budgets if they show a competitive advantage for a campaign.

Yet in many cases, the only people with a clear grasp of these metrics are in the digital department. This is a problem in many industries, but it is seen as particularly prevalent in the automotive business.

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Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 news No Comments

In-situ Marketing (UPDATED)

In-Situ Marketing

Excerpted with commentary, from the Original Article: In-Situ Marketing, September 29, 2007 by Augustine Fou

The word “in-situ” comes from my days in the chemistry lab working towards my PhD where the best observations were made “in-situ” — i.e. while the experiment was still running. The official dictionary definition of “in-situ” is “in the natural, original, or appropriate position.” Applying it to marketing, I mean “observing customers’ behaviors in real-time and optimizing marketing based on these insights.” Segmentation, surveys, focus groups, etc. are not “in-situ” because asking the questions in a particular way impacts the outcomes or the answers have built-in assumptions, often un-stated.

When I wrote the original article in 2007, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks were not as mainstream as they are today; and users’ habits of using them and the amount of time spent were nowhere near what they are today.

The fact is, these changes in the marketplace have not only decimated industries and sectors (e.g. newspaper and magazine ad revenue) but have also created unprecedented new opportunities for marketers.  The real-time nature of the two-way digital medium enables marketers to see what their customers are talking about, sharing, and doing both on their sites and outside. The insights that can be derived from this data should enable the marketers not only to react, but also to optimize in real time while the campaign is still running.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: “In-Situ” Marketing

This article explores how the speed of information has changed the “game” and the “playing field” for advertisers and proposes the concept of in-situ marketing as a way for advertisers to not only survive in this new business landscape but also to achieve competitive advantage.

Rapid advances in the speed with which information is shared and disseminated have had an enormous impact on advertising and marketing as we know it. Technological developments have changed virtually every aspect of our lives, including the way in which consumers make decisions and the way in which they gather the information they use for those decisions. In this radically changed environment traditional forms of advertising – getting information to prospective customers or encouraging them to adopt certain behaviors – are no longer effective.

The first part of the article will consider the way in which the environment has changed and how this has affected traditional marketing and advertising. In the second part of the article, we consider a new technique which we call “in-situ” marketing and look at how it can be used to take advantage of the new environment by utilizing the very changes which have rendered traditional methods obsolete.


The Impact of Speed and the Availability of Information

Perhaps the single most unifying characteristic of recent technological advances is the vastly increased speed with which information can be transmitted. At the same time, the increase in speed has been matched with a similar increase in the numbers of people who can be reached without the need for a corresponding increase in effort. The internet clearly lies at the center of this revolution, allowing as it does the almost immediate transmission of information to a vast number of people for comparatively little investment. No industry is immune to the effects of this revolution. Everything from classified ads to music to movies to travel and so on has been altered. As the behavior of consumers has changed with the evolving technology, traditional forms of advertising and marketing have been made increasingly redundant. We will look at each of these in turn, but before we do, it is important that we clearly distinguish them, because each has a particular and different purpose. “Advertising” is taken to mean any activity done to convey product attributes or brand characteristics to a broad base of consumers without explicitly requiring consumers to take any action (e.g. TV, print, radio). “Marketing”, on the other hand, is taken to mean any activity done with the goal of eliciting a specific action or response from the target consumer. So how has each of these been affected by the radical changes the new technologies have created?

The fundamental issue for advertising is that traditional forms have lost the effectiveness they once had. In a recent Forrester survey of the advertising industry, 78% of those surveyed noted that TV advertising was producing ever diminishing returns, while 48% noted that the most significant threat to successful advertising is “commercial clutter” – consumers are simply too inundated with information to be able to select and sort it in a way that is useful to them (and thus useful to the advertiser).

In the past there was a relatively simple correlation between the amount spent by a company on advertising and its sales – the more it spent, the greater the sales. This no longer holds true. A company can increase the amount it spends on advertising and can even target its advertising more carefully and selectively, but this is no longer necessarily correlated with an increase in sales.

In a nutshell, traditional approaches to advertising and marketing do not succeed in the changed environment in which information is shared almost instantaneously by innumerable consumers who are inundated with information and who are skeptical at best about the information they receive from people wanting to sell them their wares. How can advertisers and marketers adapt to the new environment so that they can again be effective?

“In-Situ” Marketing – What it is and How to use it

We believe the key to taking advantage of the new environment is by adopting what we call “in-situ” marketing. In this part of the paper we will briefly define the term and then go on to consider each part of the definition in more detail. “In-situ” marketing can be defined as marketing that leverages real-time, observed metrics to target individual consumers and improve effectiveness while the campaign is still running. So what does this mean in practice?

Firstly, it means that the information which advertisers and marketers utilize to make judgments about how best to proceed with a campaign is real-time information, received while the campaign is underway and acted on immediately. This contrasts with traditional techniques which would rely on information gathered perhaps over a six-month period or more, by which time the window of opportunity more often than not would have been lost. It means, secondly, that the information relied upon is gathered by observing the actual behavior of consumers, rather than relying on the self-reported behavior of consumers which, for a whole host of reasons, can often be quite different. By using the actual behavior, the campaign can proceed on the basis of much sounder and accurate data and will be consequently more effective.

“In-situ” marketing also means targeting individual consumers based on the information which is obtained so that there is a much greater correlation between the information being provided in the campaign and the person receiving it. Rather than relying on broad groups based on demographic information or segments identified by certain characteristics, “in-situ” marketing is concerned with finding all consumers who might be interested in the product, not simply those people who fall within a particular group identified by the marketing department. Finally, it means that the information which is gathered can be acted upon immediately so that a campaign can be altered and amended while it is still running to ensure that it as effective as possible from the point at which it begins until it ends.

This new approach is based on certain key principles:

• be where the consumers are already rather than seek to force them to go somewhere else – know where they are at now;

• find out what they think or know already and leverage it – consumers are empowered with lots of information and new sources they trust;

• leverage services that consumers already use for amplification – services like, moviefone, epinions have the “power of many”;

• create opportunities to observe preferences to the level of the individual, then act upon it to serve the individual;

• change traditional feedback loops making them “drastically tighter and faster” to match the speed of information;

• build a two way interaction with consumers and earn a trust relationship with them.


In this article we have looked at the way in which technological changes which allow for the rapid transmission of information to vast numbers of people for little effort have made traditional advertising and marketing techniques obsolete and ineffective. We have then considered a new approach which we term “in-situ” marketing as a means of harnessing these new technologies so that advertising and marketing can become relevant again to consumers and hence more effective. “In-situ” marketing is defined as marketing that leverages real-time, observed metrics to target individual consumers and improve effectiveness while the campaign is still running. It acts on information gathered while the campaign is underway so that the campaign can be modified immediately to be more effective in targeting individuals.

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Tuesday, May 21st, 2013 news No Comments

Social Media Is Changing How Supply And Demand Works For Big Brands


Burberry Milan Fashion Week Menswear Fall Winter 2012 2013 Collection Runway

Many companies see social media as just another marketing and communications tool. A particularly effective one maybe, but just another of many.

According to Erich Joachimsthaler, founder and CEO of Vivaldi Partners, they’re missing out on the biggest source of value from these platforms. In a recent report, he outlines how brands can use social media to change their entire business, not just their marketing.

“Where I see the biggest opportunity is to think about your entire business model. There’s so much of this social information that is unstructured information, and consumers make 75 percent of it,” Joachimsthaler says. “If you want to think about your business, if you want to create value and competitive advantage, it’s about thinking about that information and penetrating it at every step of your value chain.”

One of the best examples of this, which Joachimsthaler has studied in depth, is Burberry.

The first thing that’s allowed them to change their business is the sheer size of their social reach. “Burberry has about 15 million — and that’s growing rapidly — Facebook likes. This is an astounding figure,” Joachimsthaler says. “This is astounding because even Nike is not as strong, and Nike is a $15-18 billion dollar company. Burberry is at about $3 billion. So it’s a massive difference, the two companies don’t compare.”

They built that following by offering something useful. People on Facebo! ok can s ee Burberry fashion shows before the celebrities who actually sit in front of the catwalk.

But what’s truly innovative is what they do with those likes.

“What Burberry does is, it has made those videos shoppable. You can click on the particular garment and you can basically make an order on the spot. So Burberry can collate the orders from 15 million people. They haven’t manufactured the product yet in China, but they have taken the orders, they know exactly how many people have ordered what,” Joachimsthaler says. “They already have my money in the bank. 15 million times $200; that’s a lot of money in the bank. When they have the orders, they can then send the order to China, manufacture it, and within two weeks they can either deliver it to your home, or you can have it delivered to a store and you can buy additional garments.”

For a taste-driven and occasionally fickle industry, this saves a tremendous amount of money. “This changes the entire value chain,” Joachimsthaler says. “The fashion business is fraught with forecasting. You forecast what will be bought in the next year, you need to produce them, manufacture them in China, there are inventory problems, there are logistics problems, then you put it in the store, the thing doesn’t sell, if it doesn’t sell you have to send it to the outlet store and mark it down.

Burberry avoids a great deal of that.

There’s huge potential here that’s yet to be realized, and it could be a game-changer for the industry. We’ve only seen the beginning, Joachimsthaler argues. Someday, companies like Burberry could operate with a fraction of their inventory, and never have to mark anything down.

It’s a tremendous innovation in operations, and one that will have a large impact going forward, possibly even beyond the fashion industry.

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Monday, December 10th, 2012 news No Comments

Social Gaming Revenue Will Blow Past $5 Billion By 2015


In our report on social gaming out today, we forecast that the U.S. social gaming market, including smartphones, will more than double and blow past $5 billion by 2015.

We think this will happen because social games will break into the mainstream as new types of games reach new audiences, and because companies will get even better at monetizing.

Our report also includes an in-depth look at industry trends and exclusive interviews with top industry executives. Click here to read it → 

Social Gaming Revenue

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Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 news No Comments

Google Still 80 Percent Of E-Commerce Referrals


Google is still e-commerce’s best friend, at least for the time being. Social is just beginning to change  business online, but search engines still dominate referral traffic to e-commerce sites.

Google alone accounts for over 80 percent of e-commerce traffic referrals, according to a study by RichRelevance. Meanwhile, Facebook made up 0.5 percent of traffic, but that number was up 92 percent from the year prior.

There is some anecdotal evidence that this may be changing. At yesterday’s Social Commerce Summit, Sheezan Bakali, Director of Marketing at hot flash sales startup Fab, indicated that Facebook was its third largest source of traffic after direct traffic and e-mail referrrals. Nonetheless, search still powers e-commerce—for now.

Drivers of E-Commerce Traffic

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Wednesday, February 8th, 2012 news No Comments

Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.

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