Last week AdTech descended on Melbourne for another year, and whilst I couldn’t find the time to attend most of the event I was glad I found the time to hear Ekaterina Walters from Branderati present 5 trends marketers can’t ignore.
Amongst the key trends covered was that of real time marketing. Whilst this concept is not new it is starting to come of age and it got me thinking. How have global brands successfully leveraged the trend and what can be learnt from it. And more importantly what does it take for organisations to embrace real time marketing?
What is real time marketing?
A quick definition for those unfamiliar with the concept of real time marketing;
Real-time marketing is the outcome of a deliberate process that allows brands to respond authentically, quickly and based on the context of conversations through content, experiences or service.
How global brands have adopted real time marketing
By now most of you would have heard of Oreo’s successful real time marketing efforts during the Super Bowl – so rather than regurgitate this case study how has other brands leveraged real time marketing. Here are a few clever examples I have come across;
Within minutes of the bill legalising gay marriage in the UK, Virgin Holidays tweeted this image and posted it to their Facebook and Google+ Pages. Selecting the most appropriate “real time marketing opportunities” for a brand is key – otherwise it can feel a little forced / commercial. For Virgin, legalisation of gay marriage was one of those relevant moments based on audience fit, their founders’ views of gay rights and the fact they offer honeymoon vacations. They used the #equalmarriage hashtag to expand their reach and were rewarded with 265 re-tweets from their community.
Pantene’s hairstyles of the stars
For Pantene, the Oscars marked the ideal time to try their hand at real time marketing. With luscious locks on display from celebs Pantene decided to get a piece of the Oscars buzz by sketching the trendiest Oscar hairstyles of the most popular celebrities in how to formats featuring their own products. For years women’s’ magazines have given tips to re-create a celebrity look and Pantene have learnt from the experts bringing this concept to life in real time.
SmartCar – it takes more than just one bird
Too often consumers are tweeting on deaf ears – but not this time. @adtothebone tweeted that he “Saw a bird had crapped on a Smart Car. Totalled it.,” SmartCar saw this as an opportunity to extend a simple tweet into a branded SmartCar message through the creation of a hilarious / engaging infographic and tweeted back, “Couldn’t have been one bird, @adtothebone. Sounds more like 4.5 million. (Seriously, we did the math.)”
SmartCar USA was rewarded with over 500 re-tweets and 300 favourites by being great social listeners and capitalising on an opportunity to engage.
What it takes for organisations to embrace real-time marketing
This form of marketing goes far beyond simply posting a timely tweet or status update. To succeed in this brave new marketing world Ekaterina Walters identified some of the key fundamentals during her presentation at AdTech Melbourne.
In a real time world there is little time to work through traditional approval processes – thus real time teams need to be empowered to make the decisions they think are appropriate at the time. Related to this concept of empowerment is the need to be agile / nimble. The vast majority of advertising creative is generated the same way it has been for decades: first comes the creative brief, followed by several concepts / ideas followed by selection and approvals before the piece finally sees the light of day. But tomorrow is too late when it comes to real time. Re-architecting internal processes is an important consideration for brands wanting to engage in real time marketing (and these processes usually extend beyond marketing department boundaries). Rick Wion, Director of Social Media at McDonalds stated in a recent interview “our partnership with our legal team comes in handy. They help us understand what we can react to very quickly, what things are going to take a little bit more time to do, and what things we would probably avoid.
Think and operate like a publisher
In the world of real time marketing – content is king. For brands it’s important to shift away from broadcasting the products and services we offer and instead focus on publishing content desired by their audience. Pantene did exactly that during the Oscars, they learnt from publishers who regularly communicate with their audience to tell a relevant story in real time.
Allow on brand risk taking
Cutting through in real time is a challenge and for some brands it hasn’t panned out – but for those actively engaging in the real time marketing space brands need to be prepared to take “on brand” risks. For the risk adverse this is a challenge, it is also difficult for organisations who don’t celebrate failure as part of the journey to success.
When the Super Bowl hit, Oreo’s social media team as well as their agency were waiting for an opportunity to get in the game. Activating resources incurs costs as does investing in the tools to effectively monitor the social space to identify opportunities and paid media spend to amplify earned media. This is not to say that real time marketing is therefore only for the big end of town – but if you want to get serious about real time marketing then marketing investment is an important consideration.
In addition I believe it takes leadership. Why?
It takes a brave and bold senior leader to champion real time marketing and drive a change in ways of doing things.
So is it worth it? Do the numbers stack up?
Whilst research on the effects of real time marketing to the bottom line is somewhat few and far between, preliminary research conducted by GolinHarris in 2012 found consumer behaviour from awareness through to try / buy is positively impacted by exposure to real time marketing.
But if this isn’t enough to convince you to try it for yourself – it is probably case studies like that of Oreo that helps to paint the picture of the value of real time marketing. Oreo’s Super Bowl real time marketing efforts generated in-excess of 17,000 re-tweets combined with a substantial amount of press coverage which in PR value alone probably more than justifies the investment.
Video: What is real-time marketing? (from Adobe Summit 2013)