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Technology is altering business in obvious ways – and in some not-so-obvious ways. Session after session at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas made that abundantly clear. Here are five examples from CES 2016 of how technology is continuing its transformation of marketing in unanticipated ways:
Technology Put the Clothes Back on Women in Playboy
It’s hardly a secret that one of the impacts of the Internet is a proliferation of digital pornography, much of it free. In “Y&R Gamechangers CES Breakfast” in the LinkedIn Lounge, Playboy executives explained that this change enabled by technology was one factor that put Playboy’s business model under stress. The brand, which has combined high quality writing with photography of nude women since 1953, recently announced that it would no longer publish the nude photos. Instead, Playboy, which has published writers who included Ray Bradbury and Joseph Heller and featured interviews with people ranging from Malcolm X to Jimmy Carter in the past, would emphasize its journalistic heritage. Playboy is betting that people do actually read the magazine for the articles after all and is hoping the move will lead to a new generation of Millennial readers that it has already attracted on via its digital presence (which, ironically, include no nude photography). “We joked that the most common reason for subscriber churn was ‘deceased.’ This is not how you build a brand,” said Playboy’s Chief Digital Officer Phillip Morelock. In addition to bringing in new readers, Playboy hopes the move brings back some old advertisers who have long shied away from associating their brands with nude photography. “We’re having conversations with companies who haven’t advertised in the magazine in 35 years,” Morelock said. Added Cory Jones, Chief Content Officer of Playboy, “This is our second chance to make a first impression.”
Technology Has Contributed to the Rise of Purpose-Driven Marketing
“Raise your hand if you’re on the journey to becoming a purposeful company,” asked Karen Quintos, CMO of Dell, to a room of 40 CMOs and marketing executives at an intimate event hosted by LinkedIn on Thursday at CES. Eighty percent of the marketers in the room raised their hands.
Purpose-driven marketing is becoming increasingly popular, and technology plays a role in its rise – and in its authenticity. With websites such as glassdoor.com, companies that don’t truly commit to the purpose they say they are committed to, the lack of authenticity will be exposed and likely cost them not only consumers but talent.
Today consumers, particularly Millennials, want to have relationships with brands. It’s not just the value they receive from your product anymore. They want to trust you and trust that you stand behind your values. And its not just for the consumers, it has major affects on recruiting. Employees want an inspiring reason to wake up in the morning beyond just working for a company that’s crushing the competition.
Marketers are shifting the way they think by telling the world why their companies do what they do instead of just what they do. As Unilever CMO Keith Weed said at the LinkedIn session, Unilever doesn’t just sell soap. The company teaches people around the globe prevent the spread of debilitating or deadly disease. Similarly, Intel doesn’t just sell microprocessors. It invests in the economic growth and sustainability where the resources for their microprocessors are sourced — Democratic Republic of Congo.
Once a company has activated its employees to embrace the brand’s purpose, it then becomes exponentially more infectious externally, which attracts both customers and potential new hires.
Technology Has Made Customer Experience King
Technology, particularly the Internet, has given customers more power. They can search the Internet to arm themselves with information about the products and services they want to buy long before they enter a retail store or call a B2B salesperson. This tectonic shift has made customer-centricity an imperative for marketers, and it was a topic that dominated the conversation at CES 2016. Customer-centricity was a common theme across all panels at CES 2016. “One-third of execs said customer experience was their No. 1 priority when differentiating their company,” said Mary Hamilton, Managing Director, Digital Experiences, Accenture Technology Labs, during a CES panel. The ultimate result is that marketers must focus on creating personalized experiences that people want. Additionally, marketers need to think of people less as customer segments and more as individuals; marketers muss strive to integrate data channels to create an individual user experience across devices and even offline – in the store and on the phone.
Technology Has Raised the Bar on What Constitutes Good Advertising
Good advertising no longer means just delivering the right message in a compelling way; it also means delivering the message in the way that audiences prefer to receive it. If a marketing message isn’t delivered in the right medium, it won’t get the engagement marketers crave. “We’re in an engagement spiral. Participation culture is on the rise among younger demographics,” said Jake Katz, Vice President, Audience Insights & Strategy, REVOLT TV. This shift means that marketers, especially those with Millennials in their target market, must create content in a way that audiences can engage with it and “remix” it. Marketers must be cognizant of creating content that their audiences actually want to read and engage with, if only because audiences have so many choices of content to engage with thanks to proliferation of content on the Internet. Eric Johnson, Founder and President of Ignited said, “People don’t really like advertising. Not that advertising is bad. It’s just most of it is executed poorly.” Buzzfeed was cited by Joakim “Jay” Baage, Executive Director, Ayzenberg Group, as an example of a brand presenting content in a way the audience wants to engage with it. Buzzfeed, Baage said, used to be seen as clickbait, but now it have evolved into news channel with the stories presented in in a way the readers find engaging. Buzzfeed has mastered the art of optimizing its content in a way that the audience wants to consume it. Using data, they tie content to popular conversations almost in real time, and the result is that story prioritization come from the readers – not from an editor pushing content blindly.
Social Media Is Having an Impact Offline, Too
Social media, as the rise of LinkedIn and other social platforms makes clear, has had an outsized digital impact. But social media is also having a measurable impact in offline media. As Jon Williams, LinkedIn’s Senior Director, Partner, Agency & Content Experience Team, explained during a panel, LinkedIn has accurate and detailed business demographic data on its members. LinkedIn knows what industry members are in, their job titles, the size of the company they work for — with no personally identifiable information attached. Marketers can tap into this business demographic data by placing a LinkedIn tag on their website. This tag can inform companies not only how many people are visiting but also provides insight into their characteristics. If a B2B marketer, for instance, is running an ad in The Wall Street Journal or embarking on a TV campaign, the LinkedIn tag can show the marketer if the ad is driving the right people from the right industries or right job titles to the website. It’s just one example of how social media’s influence expands beyond the virtual world.
Marketers must stay on top of technology trends not only for the immediately apparent benefits of making business processes more efficient. The trends unleashed by technology almost always have unintended consequences that marketers must be prepared to take advantage of.
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