Don’t Expect Campaigns to Disappear Anytime Soon

Sometimes I wonder about supposed technology trends that are discussed. One of the latest trends I am hearing about is the death of the marketing campaign.

Marketing technologists and analysts say that new tools will put an end to the dreaded campaign. My response? Don’t bet on it.

In the mid 2000s, this meme emerged for the first time. Then, the end of the marketing campaign was a Cluetrain Manifesto-esque railing against corporate treatment of customers. Thanks to social media, corporations would be forced to talk to customers, one to one.

What ended up happening was a new way for brands to cultivate loyalists, customers used a different public channel to complain (hello, Twitter!), and an immense amount of data was created. As for the marketing campaign, it now includes social media.

This time, contextual media and broken funnels drive the meme. Automation solutions will use data created from social media, and companies will be forced to create Choose Your Own Adventure content and lead paths to better serve customers. Global campaigns will end, forcing niche campaigns.

Sound familiar? I think so, too, though a bit more realistic than the one-to-one argument from the prior decade.

Why Campaigns Won’t End

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Marketing automation will empower companies to create strong niche campaigns as opposed to deploying one-size fits all efforts. Though customized and more targeted, this will not end the campaign, rather make it more sophisticated with better tools.

The problem with ending campaigns is threefold. First, marketing campaign critics always address the matter from the perspective of the customer. They forget that campaigns are often a function of corporate budgets and anticipated profits. The same could be send for nonprofits and annual fundraising.

Budgets and revenue are time-bound, especially for public companies. This creates a compelling reason to develop specific campaigns within budget that achieve the necessary results, all to satisfy shareholders, owners, and keep companies and nonprofits alive.

Second, customers don’t react to campaigns, say the pundits. Well, actually customers just don’t like marketing period, but they do react to campaigns when they need/want a product or service. What the Internet evolutions of the recent past have shown us through tracking is a much more sophisticated non-linear sales cycle.

OK. So, that tells me that marketing campaigns will become more sophisticated, with better tools (automation, for example), more transmedia options for customers to accesss information, and more specified messaging. But like the social media era, the campaign evolves. It doesn’t disappear.

Finally, campaigns address a human need on both the customer and the company side of the equation: A desire for new. Whether it’s a mobile phone, a car, or a software solution, people have come to expect new evolutions from their current provider and competitors alike. Similarly, new products and services drive growth and competition amongst companies.

Guess how new products and services are launched? You got it, with campaigns. Customers may not like marketing, but they like the same old boring marketing campaign even less. The campaign helps fulfill the core need of new.

Until Wall Street ends quarterly expectations and companies and nonprofits stop functioning on an annual budget; the ability to adapt to customer expectations disappears; and the need for new things ends; marketing campaigns are here to stay. I’ll check back with the pundits in the 22nd century.

What do you think?

A version of this post ran originally on the Vocus blog.

Getty Images Move Too Little, Too Late

In the past two weeks Getty Images made its images available for free on a limited use basis to anyone on the Internet, and severed its relationship with Yahoo!’s Flickr. On the surface, this seems like a great thing for those of us who create content and/or spend hours navigating the web.

But the deeper I dig into the “free Getty Images” announcement, the less I like it. Some of the issues include:

  • Turning bloggers into sales reps by making a licensing disclosure a part of embeds as well as sharing buttons.
  • Providing thousands of complimentary links to Getty’s site thanks to the embeds on bloggers site.
  • Limiting image size, in turn defying the trend towards responsive design.
  • Hoping that amateur photographers will resubmit their portfolio through a weak uploading site and app.
  • Assuming that amateur and pro photogs will promote their partial limited Getty portfolio instead of their full portfolios on websites, Flickr and Instagram, all of which already have organic followings.
  • Deploying unfriendly and limited embed and sharing functionality on the photos.

As a Getty Images licensed photographer with a whopping total of 11 photos on the site, these details don’t motivate me to use their service, both as a blogger and as a photographer. It’s nice to say that I have been licensed, but that’s about the sole value of it.


Here is a sample of a Getty Image embed.

Beyond the technical details, Getty Images’ moves are too little, too late, and won’t change anything.

Getty Images’ moves may be a direct result of the social web’s demand for social photos as well as those embedded via Creative Commons, Flickr Creative Commons, and Instagram. Photos have become a primary driver of visual storytelling in social media.

As a result, Getty Images has to have suffered lost licensing fees, and has definitely experienced increased piracy. The move represents a measured gesture to capture some of that social photo and content marketplace. Why else would Getty Images suddenly severe its Flickr relationship, and tell Flickr/Getty Image portfolio members they can soon upload directly? Perhaps they will give bloggers an affiliate deal on licenses next?

While Getty Images brings quality and reputation to the table, it doesn’t offer ease of use, accessiblity, or transparency (e.g. money and licensing fees gained). These moves are not enough in the larger context of digital photography ecosystem.

Nice pictures, though.

What do you think?

Actors and Directors

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If you listen to conversations about online power — at least those supported by bloggers — strength centers on the individual voice. Yet, now that big money has arrived online, the solitary influential voice represents a role player in the Internet ecosystem.

Let’s use a metaphor to illustrate this point: Hollywood and its power structure of actors, directors and producers. Individual voices represent actors. Entities like budget-rich companies investing in online media, traditional media companies, publishing houses, and already successful individuals are the directors and producers.

This is not to demean individuals that have made a name for themselves online. Consistently excelling online as an influencer takes significant effort. There’s a reason why so many social media voices are obsessed with influence.

You can debate whether people garner attention or become noteworthy for achievements, but long-term success is not an accident. It’s the result of doing something right consistently over time.

Back to the metaphor… Everybody wants to work with the most successful actors (cough, stars [ugh]). We know this. Any blogger just needs to show you their in-box and the heaps of spam pitches they receive as proof points.

BUT.
Continue reading “Actors and Directors”