2012 was a huge year of national events: a multitude of marketing opportunities, but after the fireworks and fanfare died down 2013 was gearing up to be an empty year. With nothing on the agenda for 2013, empty13 was launched as a discussion group to discuss the prospect of an empty year, whether it is actually a bad thing, or a chance for brands to be truly creative and write the story of the year themselves, starting with a blank sheet.
empty13 brought together the leading lights from the advertising and media industry in a roundtable summit to debate what 2013 means for brands. The panel thrashed out the challenges and opportunities for brands to build their own storylines in 2013 and to engage with today’s always-on consumer in a digital world. The panel’s insights sparked a wider industry debate for how the media, marketing and advertising industries will set the agenda for the year ahead.
With 2013 upon us, February marked the first in a series of events hosted by Bite which saw over 100 leading industry lights come together to set the agenda and key themes for the year which will be tracked right across the year.
May 15th marked the second event in the calendar with Microsoft, Spotify, Telefonica and ITV amongst the brands discussing the dangers of presuming intimacy with customers.
See what industry leaders think 2013 will hold and join the debate either here or on Twitter at @theempty13.
64% of people agree that customers do not want to be friends with a brand. That was the result of the live poll conducted on Twitter and among attendees at the latest empty13 event hosted by Bite last week.
The event explored the perils of presuming intimacy with customers, a key theme from the last empty13 event. Five speakers debated the whether brands should be aware of falling into the trap of presuming they can form an automatic intimate relationship with consumers just because digital media make it easier to do so.
ITV’s MD of Commerical, Online and Interactive Fru Hazlitt opened proceedings by arguing that actually your customers do want a relationship with you, but only on their terms. ITV has found that consumers engage with content, rather than brands themselves. In fact, in television terms, this has been happening for years, from postcard competitions to the foam bricks that were thrown at TV sets across the country 25 years ago in frustration at poor programming. Technology has just enabled these interactions to happen in real time.
Fru revealed to the audience how ITV viewers were interacting with its current roster of programming. The channel recorded 100 million interactions in 2012, with flagship detective series Broadchurch registering 2,500 tweets a minute during the final episode and accounting for almost two-thirds of all tweets in the country. This, said Fru, meant ITV could no longer ignore the rubber brick. The channel’s digital strategy has seen downloads of its XFactor app reach 940,000 during its last series while the team saw 4.5 million buzzes from viewers using the Britain’s Got Talent gamification app during the first episode.
This highly interactive, highly entertaining programming has been a hit with viewers and Fru is starting to see brands adopting a similar tactic. Advertising “is no longer broadcasters renting out their breaks like a cheap motel room” according to Fru. Rather, advertising has been undergoing a quiet revolution which has seen brands adopting highly creative and clever promotions that emulate highly engaged TV programmes by promoting engagement with the content over the brand.
Microsoft CMO Philippa Snare agreed that we have certainly become a nation of screen addicts. However she disagreed with the motion, arguing that there is subtle difference between what people are looking for online and through devices, and what traditionally companies are making available to them.
She told the audience that no one screen is king, and that actually every device has a personality. The tablet, according to Philippa, is a wizard, there to show you things and entertain you. The PC is becoming more a sage, there to help you with work and banking, while the TV is the entertaining everyman. The phone, in Philippa’s eyes, is now like your lover, something you miss when it isn’t there and are very afraid to lose. Devices are increasingly reflecting the needs of people, but at the end of the day consumers are still a very fickle bunch. Ultimately, consumers want brands to be there, be bold and then be gone.
Rather than devices, Telefonica’s Global Digital Marketing Director John Bartleson argued that it was platforms that were empowering consumers during his defence of the motion. In his view, the existence of things like social media platforms has allowed consumers to empower themselves rather than relying on celebrities to dictate their tastes and trends.
Today, the customer is focused purely on outcomes and brands need to deliver on those outcomes, as well as manage consumer expectations at the same time. The more agile an organisation is, the easier it is for it to adapt to a changing market. John used the example of the music industry as one that tried to maintain the status quo rather than changing its models, and paid a heavy price.
As European VP of one of the most disruptive brands in music, Spotify’s Chris Maples agreed with John’s sentiments. He used his experiences at the digital music service to emphasise that in order to build a genuine dialogue with customers, brands need to ensure authenticity is at the heart of everything they do. Brands cannot force themselves upon consumers, or chase after them like puppy dogs; they have to speak in a language that customers understand and that doesn’t jar. Ultimately, it comes down to building credibility with your customers.
Chris highlighted the nation’s obsession with tech, saying that people are now wedded to devices and in most cases mobile phones have grown into a fifth limb. He explained how a brand’s relationship with a consumer spreads through every part of the waking day, but the clever brands are the ones that enter into dialogue with consumers some of the time, not all of the time. Every brand, argued Chris, is only one click away from going out of business.
Bite’s Jon Silk brought the event to a close with an unusual metaphor for brand behaviour. Drawing parallels with a rogue’s gallery of friends taken from his Facebook, Jon argued that brands should not act like a bad friend to consumers. In some ways, every brand is like a bad friend as they ultimately just want your money, but there does exist opportunities for brands to be selfless and interesting, as a good friend should be. Jon outlined 5 key rules for brands to follow to be a good friend to consumers: don’t keep secrets; don’t boast; be a good listener; give people respect; and be generous.
Last Wednesday marked the first in a series of empty13 events which Bite are hosting across the year to discuss key themes and trends which are developing as we make our way through 2013.
The key themes to come out of February’s empty13 summit included the need for brands to develop an authentic tone of voice to engage with consumers in social media, the importance of understanding consumers’ multi-platform lives, and the staggering growth of the mobile internet.
The challenge in 2013, without 2012’s run of major national events to piggyback on is to create interesting things to talk about. To do this, brands need to deeply understand their consumers, find out what’s interesting to them and create content they will like.
“Brands need to understand social media is about talking to people and building relationships. Like all relationships you need to listen and sometimes have conversations you don’t like but if done well you’ll create advocates for your brand that will lead to sales. Peter Clare, Head of Digital, Bacardi
An authentic tone of voice is crucial to build genuine relationships with consumers using content in social media. Content must be developed that come out of a brand’s DNA.
“Building trust and authenticity is key. How you communicate and build trust isn’t easy but you need to talk directly to people to get real engagement, and when you do get that it’s fantastic,” Roberto Kussabi, Head of Social Media, Tottenham Hotspur.
Brands need to seize opportunities in everyday events, being able to adapt their message in real time rather than force them into campaigns planned in advance.
“We’ve seen fabulous work from the likes of Paddy Power, which when the Pope resigned immediately produced, with a flourish, fantastically amusing relevant tweets. Although these were promoting its service, they ended up being the most popular tweets among our users.” Bruce Daisley, UK Sales Director, Twitter.
Managing people change is the biggest challenge for agencies getting to grips with digital. Agencies have to make sure they have the right people in place and face the challenge of personnel change as digital drives the need for new forms of client relationship.
“There is an element within any agency of managing decline and managing growth. Sometime the people that will have driven the old client relationships may not understand what drives new relationships. Getting the people in place is key and incentivising them so you don’t lose them to the other exploding area, startups.” Alex DeGroote, Media Analyst, Panmure Gordon
Influence will become an increasingly important element to campaign planning for brands, driving the need for a scientific understanding of its impact on sales and brand awareness.
The development of the web in a series of silos, dominated by Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon means brands need to reassess their marketing strategies online.
“We’re seeing the Balkanisation of the internet. How Facebook is locking up users and data within its walls and not playing with Twitter and vice versa. We don’t yet know how this will play out but it’ll be challenging for marketers that have made investments into these platforms but want a single view of their customer. I don’t know whether the social internet will interoperate better at the end of 2013 or worse but it augurs that it will be worse.” Azeem Azhar, Founder, PeerIndex
Mobile is fast becoming the primary way people access the internet, yet brands are still not developing mobile websites. 43% of the top 100 UK advertisers have no mobile optimised site according to the IAB. Consumers are far ahead of the industry and are being let down by substandard experiences on the mobile web every day.
“If you’re a consumer on the mobile web, if half the stuff you look at doesn’t work properly it’s a huge problem. If you were starting a new company today of course you’d be mobile first. Why would you bother starting with any other screen as mobile is the device consumers are or will be soon using the most.” Jon Mew, Director of Mobile and Operations, IAB
TV will be an even more important medium in 2013, as online and social media make the live experience even more compelling for consumers.
“Online in all its different forms are not a substitute for TV, it’s just a new, complementary behaviour.” Tess Alps, CEO, Thinkbox
Interviews with the key speakers will be shared over the coming weeks, starting with Bruce Daisley from Twitter below.
As 2013 progresses we will inviting key industry figures to come together to discuss how these themes are playing out. The next event is May 15th, to register your interest contact email@example.com
It appears that in empty13 there will be more going on than the name might suggest.
After a bumper-filled, event-laden year last year, our campaign to debate what 2013 would hold for brands has resulted in an influx of ideas, concepts and predictions about what this year could hold for the media, technology and business landscape.
Given that the number of mobile phones on the planet looks likely to exceed the number of humans this year, 2013 is shaping up to be the year of the mobile. This is according to many of the speakers and attendees at Bite’s empty13 event in Milbank Tower this week.
By the end of this year more than 75% of the population will own a smartphone. While this is great news for handset manufacturers, operators and mobile software providers, there is, worryingly, a massive disconnect between this statistic and the fact that of the top 100 brands in the UK, 43% do not have a mobile-optimised website.
The rise in mobile adoption has also impacted the type of content we are consuming – and when we are consuming it, according to Bruce Daisley, UK sales director, Twitter. Our expectations as always on and constantly connected consumers have been the driving force behind Twitter becoming the ‘real-time heartbeat of the nation’. Twitter, Daisley said, was not a social network but an information network; a place where people go to discover things that they are passionate about, not necessarily to meet friends and family. This, therefore, is the reason why brands need to adopt a more human tone with their content, in a Danny Boyle-style philosophy – three parts serious, one part humour, according to Daisley, a theory that was reiterated during the panel debate at the end of the event. An example given by Daisley was of a Specsavers tweet following Eden Hazard kicking the ballboy in a football match against Swansea. It not only demonstrated how humour can win mindshare, but how campaigns can adapt in almost real-time – a challenge facing all brands today.
The importance of focussing on content rather than device it was consumed on was stressed by Tess Alps, CEO of commercial TV body Thinkbox. She stressed the distinction between TV and the TV – one being content the other being a device. Social media is, she said, far from taking people away from TV content, in fact powerfully complemented it. Dual screening is commonplace between tablets and TV for more than half of today’s TV audience, and the Thinkbox video research showing some of the weird and wonderful antics that people get up to in front of the TV set showed that social media is no more distracting than the cat, the dog, or doing some weights!
Tablets also proved a hot topic for interactive advertising body the IAB. John Mew, director of mobile and operations at the IAB, estimated that by the end of this year around half the population would own a table device – growth that outstrips that seen by mobile phones. The IAB research echoed Alps’ views that tablets are enhancing TV watching, except, Mew pointed out, that social media has been turned on its head. During the 2010 World Cup games, tweeting dipped during the match itself and picked up again during half time when viewers discussed the match. By 2012 and the European tournament, tweets reached an all-time high during the play, dipping during half time – reflecting the duality of screens and content being consumed by today’s audience.
So we may not have an Olympian sized Jubilcious year ahead this year, but certainly it looks, from a mobile perspective especially, like 2013 is going to be busier than ever before.