Last week was a bit of a marathon for me. It was both exhausting and exhilarating. Exhausting -- well, if you read my last post, you know why (new baby daughter). Exhilarating, because it essentially laid out what we need to do better as an industry and what I plan to make the bane of my existence going forward.
The week started off focused on social media. Then we shifted to focus on search engine marketing. We held two global Havas meetings in Boston and flew in all of our specialists in these fields. We had representatives from countries one end of the globe to the other. What made it so interesting was the commonality and yet vast differences.
With social media the industry struggles with the business side and the pressure to productize this service, because our clients need help with driving economic value in this area. Yet, as consumers, we all have such different approaches and uses for social, while often using the same communities. The trick, obviously, is putting all the pieces together.
While not as new and hot as social, SEM is no less vital a topic. Search continues to grow in importance within the media mix, due in part to its ability to harness interest generated from other channels, as well as its ability to provide data for segmenting, targeting, and refining communications elsewhere.
With its comparative maturity and quickly evolving landscape, search poses a unique challenge: the need to better integrate while not losing specialization. Similar to social, there are again vast operational and scale differences market to market. The challenge here is to offer a world-class specialized service that can fully integrate as needed, while allowing for local customization.
It was astounding to me that across all four days, the one major common thread was data. I've said it before and I'll say it again: data is sexy. But it's not just the data, it is also the art and science behind extracting real insight from the data. Analytics was the common topic as we discussed the aforementioned industry challenges, which requires its own focus and standards by which we can drive efficiency, scalability, and effectiveness and the flexibility for local market customization.
The role and importance of analytics was hammered home for me on Friday when my week concluded in New York City where Havas hosted an Analytics Summit. The event was kicked off with an exceptional keynote from Avinash Kaushik. Additional speakers/topics included Omniture/Adobe trying to tie creative + analytics, Mobext's geo-location mobile research, and BBE's Vindico, with its approach to online video metrics. Check out the tweet stream with a search for #hvdas.
Minus the water gushing from the ceiling at varied intervals, which did provide for spontaneity and comic relief, I think most would agree the event provided thought-provoking slices of what you can do with strong analytics.
Some top-line takeaways were:
- Segment and target your audience.
- Don't undervalue the analytics experts. Tools don't work alone.
- Don't try and solve all your problems with one tool. Hybridize your approach and combine insights in unique ways.
- Never stop testing.
- Visualize your data in order to make it easier to digest.
- Answer this before all else: Why do I have a website?
- Don't simply slap offline GRPs to online video -- it's more than that.
- Don't let mobile be a black box. There are ways to get insights, research, and mobile reporting to help you refine your efforts.
- Your search data will help optimize more than just your search campaigns.
- Social media is 80% of your SEO efforts. Let your customers optimize for you.
- Don't be afraid of cross-channel analysis.
In short, we must define what our objectives are, who our audience is, and truly try to connect the two with no presumptions. This is more important than ever because social, search, mobile, and other media have become so intertwined that today's cross-channel consumers demand it.
I want to conclude with something the very quotable Kaushik said in relation to capping a multimedia user experience with an un-optimized site experience: "There is no reason to suck this much."
He is right.
If we have a strong measurement action plan, have the proper tools in place, extract the right insight, and have the brightest people, it's not that hard to succeed on the shoulders of analytics. We just need to check our egos at the door and be willing to optimize on what we find. Otherwise, we are doomed for failure. And this is true for simply optimizing your SEM campaigns, or if you are driving cross-channel initiatives -- regardless of your global footprint.