BlackBerry is the fastest-growing online brand in the world, second most social brand, a top ten brand and number one mobile brand on Facebook, and a top five brand on Twitter, Brian Wallace, vice president, global digital marketing and media at Research In Motion, makers of the BlackBerry, told the Conversational Marketing Summit in New York.
Both Wallace and Shiv Singh, head of digital at PepsiCo, said that marketers have to get into the content business. "With the advent of third-party sites hosting branded content, owned content has exploded for us. We will reach 60 million people with this alone," said Wallace.
While Wallace said he's in the business of managing "an ever expanding premium content network," he added that a lot of the content is generated by people talking about brands, not by the brands themselves. As a way to distribute and syndicate content for free, from a network perspective, he said that this user-generated content creates a vastly larger network of consumers.
"We are trying to curate content syndicated across a 400-million-person network," Wallace remarked. "And this will reach 1.5 billion people this year. So what are the opportunities for this? What if I charged for content instead of buying it?"
Wallace said that in the near future, not just mobile devices, but any device -- cars, refrigerators, what have you -- will be able to distribute content, and this will have profound implications for marketing. He suggested marketers stop thinking of digital marketing as a cost center, but instead think of it as an area of opportunity. He suggested that a brand's premium content network is an untapped revenue stream.
PepsiCo's Singh said if he could just get a smidgeon of the 30 billion or so Facebook status updates published in a given month he'd be flying high," but it is getting harder and harder to do."
The goal, said Singh, is very real real-time marketing. "What is real-time marketing?," he asked. "Imagine you are in my shoes walking down Fifth Avenue. Walking toward you, you see Lady Gaga. I'd be all excited. I'd be totally crazy. But now imagine something else. Imagine she has a Pepsi in her hand. I'd be floating. Now hopefully I would pull out my iPhone or BlackBerry and take a shot or photo of her.
"But now is where it gets interesting. Imagine I take the photo, and email it back to Purchase, N.Y. [PepsiCo's headquarters] and within two minutes, a team is mashing up the photo into engagement ads in social, TV, everywhere. Imagine then instead of launching it on TV, it launches with 10,000 consumers, then is shared with tens of millions of other people. Imagine we went through this whole exercise in a manner of minutes. That for me is real-time marketing and that's the future."
Singh said that having a content studio or engagement studio is a critical marketing capstone to make it possible to turn something around in ten minutes instead of having a four-month plan. He said other keys are real-time co-creation, real-time testing, and real-time distribution.
Pepsi's involvement in New York's Fashion Week demonstrates how real-time should be surrounded by a geographic and cultural frame, said Singh. "It's 'why does it matter now?' During Fashion Week, we launched the Diet Pepsi skinny can. But instead of doing regular stuff, we thought we would integrate as much into Fashion Week as we could. We hired a journalist to be part of our team who had the best access a journalist could have to Fashion Week.
"When she published something interesting, we amplified it via social engagement. We also used Twitter and Foursquare to give consumers clues about best events to attend. And for one week we operated at blurred space between what a media company does and what a brand does."
The brand positioning was centered on "getting the skinny" on fashion and pop culture.
Singh said he thinks that if anything, geolocation data is under-hyped: "It will matter more -- it will get much, much bigger in the future."
"Think about connecting hyperlocal with physical," he said. Pepsi is demonstrating a social vending machine during Internet Week that does that. The machine lets users "buy" a friend a soda, then informs the friend of the gift with a Web video message. The person who gets the gift can then go to another such machine to redeem it.
Singh suggested that marketers create content studios to operate as media distributors in real-time. He said they should build their own distribution and be able to go from strategy to execution "in seconds," and that they should not limit the capability to digital. Ultimately, he said, "Half your budget should go to real-time marketing."