The Time for Real-time Marketing

I like to think that online marketers have always been ahead of the curve in terms of where marketing is headed – that we’ve been leaders instead of followers. But this year, the reality is that the rest of the marketing world has caught up.

Now everyone who has anything to do with marketing is, at least in part, an online marketer. The U.S. Interactive Marketing Forecast for 2011 through 2016 from Forrester Research, a leading market research firm, indicates the following:

“The next digital decade is here. By 2016, advertisers will spend as much on interactive marketing as they do on television advertising today. Investment in search marketing, display advertising, email marketing, mobile marketing, and social media will near $77 billion and represent 35% of all advertising as interactive channels gain legitimacy in the marketing mix.”

That should come as no surprise to those of us who have been slogging it out in the interactive trenches for years; in fact, the surprise might be why it has taken so long for interactive to surge.

Paying a Real-Time Price

Interactive’s “legitimacy in the marketing mix” comes at a price for all of us, though. Mass adoption of interactive marketing means more media options open up, giant advertisers begin to flex their muscles, and online publishers focus on getting their piece of the big money that starts to flood into the market.

It also means something else: Every marketer, large and small, must start thinking in real-time. Matt Wurst, in his DIGITALNEXT column for Ad Age, writes:

“The old media planning model where budgets and allocations are set a year in advance just doesn’t work anymore. Consumers don’t care when your budgets are finalized or when you have to have creative locked down. Thanks to social media we have access to insights and data almost instantaneously, meaning real-time marketing is the new imperative. We must be flexible, agile and responsive, able to shift directions, change the message, move money around and operationalize it all not in months, but in minutes.”

The implications of this kind of thinking are substantial. The whole concept of a marketing campaign is starting to change. As marketers gain instant access to data, they need to do on-the-spot analysis and make program changes on the fly. This suggests that creative work will either have to be multi-versioned and archived in advance so the appropriate version can be rolled out immediately, or it will have to be created on demand. The technology is available to do that – but the originators of the work must be willing to work at light speed. Interestingly, it may mean a resurgence in the importance of concepts strong enough to rely on words more than pictures.

Consumer Mobility Matters

The influence of consumer mobility cannot be underestimated, either. In Forrester’s Interactive Marketing Forecast, the research firm projects mobile marketing to have the highest Compound Annual Growth Rate (38 percent) from 2011 to 2016 of any means of interactive marketing, including social media (26 percent). Over half of the interactive marketing professionals interviewed for Forrester’s study believe that mobile marketing’s effectiveness will increase over the next three years.

The rise of mobile marketing is well-documented, but it’s worth looking at some of the reasons for its growth. According to Forrester, it’s a combination of a number of factors:

  • Marketers are doing a better job of creating mobile-specific ads through ad targeting and dynamic content.
  • Tablets are becoming mainstream and, along with them, specialized ads for the tablet market will proliferate.
  • Mobile users are on the verge of embracing mobile commerce. In some markets, such as travel, it’s already happened. That means more marketers will be looking at ways to encourage mobile shopping.

The new mantra of marketers will become “information anywhere.” Your prospect or customer may be using a smartphone, a tablet, a notebook, or an Internet-enabled TV. The device doesn’t matter anymore – you’ve got to be able to deliver the information customers want, where they want it and when they want it. If you can’t, they’ll become someone else’s customers.

Clearly, with social media coming of age, the collaborative environment of the online world puts additional pressure on marketers in terms of continuously monitoring what customers are saying and responding to their comments. It’s one thing for marketers to use promotional offers to attract a large social media fan base and quite another to do an effective job of interacting with them. Now banks of telemarketers will need to be replaced with teams of social marketers. This promises to be a major challenge going forward, especially for smaller marketers who cannot afford the increased staff that ongoing communications may demand.

It will be no small task to become a real-time marketer – but that’s what will be expected of any marketer who hopes to gain a competitive advantage.

About Barry Silverstein

Barry Silverstein is a freelance writer/marketing consultant. In addition to writing for ReveNews, he is a contributing writer to, the world’s leading online branding forum. He is the author of three marketing books, The Breakaway Brand (co-author, McGraw-Hill, 2005), Business-to-Business Internet Marketing (Maximum Press, 2003) and Internet Marketing for Technology Companies (Maximum Press, 2003). Barry ran his own Internet and direct marketing agency for twenty years. You can find Barry on Twitter @bdsilv.

4 Responses to The Time for Real-time Marketing

  1. Pat Grady says:

    it also means specialists arise, and grab the opportunity to grow their consulting biz.  🙂

  2. Devin says:

    Is there anyone

  3. Devin says:

    Are there any advertisers doing this yet? My company Hooopla is looking to publish this type of marketing with its Instant Deals