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Jul212012

The Pain & Glory of Converged Media Execution 

Earlier this week, Altimeter released its latest report: Paid + Owned + Earned = Converged Media.

 

 

Altimeter says converged (cross channel, integrated) marketing approaches are imperative. I've been developing and leading digital and social media marketing programs incorporating both online and offline "paid, owned and earned" activities for going on four years now and I've got to say that I heartily concur.

The problems outlined by Mr. Owyang and his co-authors are very, very real. I can't count the number of times executions I was leading bumped into resistence to converged marketing. It sucks to on the outside (in an agency context) and experience these roadblocks; it also blows to be stuck on the client side without the support and mandate from on-high (CMO, CCO level).

Driving innovation in converged marketing these days is painful. Large enterprises (even some of the digital/social darlings) are simply not driving the business process transformation to fully realize the benefits of this neccesary approach. Converged marketing is disruptive to traditional corporate structures — marketing, communications, public relations and all their agencies and service providers. And we're dealing with folks who like their comfy mass media silos. And that's a problem.

Case in point, to deploy an integrated marketing campaign for a large financial service company a few years back required the following participants "at the table" (e.g. present, willing and able to execute in a coordinated manner). Try this on for size — we had three representives from the AOR (media buying agency, digital agency, ad agency), client-side website and digital development team managers & their outsourced digital production agency, client-side customer email manager, client-side search manager and the client-side progressive media manager.

Working in this context for the past four years has increased my tolerance for frustration. But the rewards are there for marketers who embrace converged media approaches in their marketing executions. The results from my client programs have been unprecedented; in some cases gob-smakingly good. Alignment is desparately needed. I'm all for the media lab approach to test and evaluate, but the innovations coming out of the lab must be driven to scale through the enterprise (and out to service providers).

Converged Media Lab: Top Success Criteria 

Leadership is needed to make this change.  And its bigger than converged media execution; it is about having a comprehensive integrated digital and customer experience strategy. And that means that CMOs, CCOs, CIOs and CTOs need to team up. And most truly don't have it together. A survey conducted by Interbrand and reported in their white paper From Digital Strategy to Brand Mastery: Strategizing for a Post-Digital Age [pdf] reveals the problem in this broader strategy/customer experience context.

Some telling data points from the survey:

...a full 68 percent of respondents believe they are ahead of the competition when it comes to digital strategy. But their rosy self-assessment does not correlate to the rest of the data, revealing instead a crisis of over-confidence and a sense that perhaps many of us have trouble evaluating ourselves.

56 percent of digitally active companies do not have a social media policy. This is significant because 551 respondents are involved with social media – meaning that 39 percent of companies involved with social media (216) are operating without a social media policy. It’s akin to discovering that a statistically significant proportion of the driving population has never learned to drive and is going on gut instinct.

While 74 percent of respondents think the objectives of their digital strategy are clear, the consistency appears to degrade downstream. For instance, 43 percent of digitally active companies believe their digital strategy decisions are made in a fragmented or decentralized environment, with each touchpoint or product’s digital strategy being managed separately. This silo effect hampers efficiency and curtails alignment with overarching business strategies. Clearly more harmonization is needed: Nearly one third of respondents believe their brand experience to be inconsistent across digital touchpoints.

More than a quarter of those surveyed are not soliciting customer feedback to inform their thinking on appropriate digital experiences. And even more – 46 percent – are not mining publically available data for these purposes. This is all the more reason why the 68 percent of respondents who claim to be ahead of the competition seems to be an indicator of a degree of self-delusion.

While 65 percent of digitally active respondents believe their brands to be very distinct, only 13 percent of respondents claim they audit competitors continuously.  It is difficult to imagine how a brand would be able to assess its distinctiveness when so little time is invested in studying the competition.

More than one third of respondents feel that an inadequate amount of resources has been dedicated to their company’s digital presence. And as for internal brand engagement, a full 36 percent feel that their company’s investment in employee education on their digital strategy is inadequate – perhaps the most troubling lack of commitment of all in that it speaks to a failure to imbue personnel with what they need to be effective representatives of their organization. This is like leaving money on the table in the battle for customer hearts and minds. In sum, while progress is being made on internal brand commitment, nearly one third of respondent companies believe their digital strategy to be either underfunded, or that their employees are undereducated on the objectives.

The rewards are there for companies who create the conditions for success in converged media. Converged media needs a true-blue (as opposed to rose-coloured) integrated digital and customer experience strategy.  Companies who tune out the mounting evidence that making change is necessary do so at risk of being disrupted in the market by competitors. This is about setting up converged media for success in the context of a truly integrated customer experience strategy. So who's going to step up and lead?

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