Real-Time With eMarketer's Debra Aho Williamson
by Joe Mandese, Mar 11, 2013, 8:39 PM
When Seattle-based eMarketer analyst Debra Aho Williamson was visiting New York recently, I was delighted that she took some of her real time to meet with me. For two reasons. One is that I hadn’t seen her in about 20 years (we worked together at Advertising Age in the early 1990s, and as I recall, she was a great writer and a pretty tough copyeditor). The other reason is that she has just completed a report -- eMarketer’s first -- on real-time marketing, and it gave me an opportunity to compare notes and dig into her perspective on the rapidly emerging art and science of RTM.
Like me, Williamson brings some baggage to the subject. I tend to look at RTM from a media-buying point-of-view, while WIlliamson has a social bias. After all, she’s been eMarketer’s social lead for some time now. And it actually makes sense that she would be the one to frame the subject for eMarketer, because so much of what’s going on in social media is real-time by definition, especially the data it’s been throwing off that is beginning to inform the way marketers communicate and interact with their customers.
While the report looks broadly at the other implications of RTM, the emergence of dynamic, real-time creative versioning and messaging of advertising, for instance, the main factor driving the marketplace, she says, is the availability of so much data.
RTM Daily: What did you learn from doing this report?
Debra Aho Williamson: I learned that marketers want to move faster and faster, and that they need to move faster, because their customers are, and because of the availability of data -- social data, mobile data, their own [in-house] data.
RTM Daily: What was the biggest thing that surprised you while you were researching this report?
Williamson: That businesses struggle to make sense of all the data they already have, let alone integrating it with social data, location data, what have you. Typically, these data are located in silos. I envision this will change in the next couple of years.
RTM Daily: What do you think other people would benefit from understanding about real-time marketing?
Williamson: That it’s not all programmatic. One of the things that became very clear to me while I was doing this report, is that real-time isn’t necessarily a millisecond. In real-time buying, yes -- it’s done in milliseconds, but there are other things going on in the marketing process related to it. Dynamic creative optimization may also happen in a millisecond, but to a marketer trying to figure out how to respond in a real-time event, like the Super Bowl or the Oscars, real-time is about people being able to react to something. That could be minutes. It could be hours. It could be 24-hours.