Commentary

Real-Time With Madison Ave: Choose Your RTM Battles

What's the biggest challenge in real-time marketing?

The question was posed to a panel of all stars at OMMA Global this morning: Val DiFebo, CEO of Deutsh NY; Colin Kinsella, CEO of Mindshare NA; Amanda Richman, president, investment & activation of Starcom USA; and Bryan Wiener, CEO of 360i.

The panel -- one focusing on real-time on Madison Ave. -- was moderated by MediaPost's Jon Bond. To kick it off, Bond, co-founder of Kirchenbaum & Bond, noted that real-time really began transforming Madison Ave. in the 1980s. He said that the emergence of Federal Express changed everything. "You had to get all your work done by 5:00. You couldn't say it was in the mail. And it hasn't gotten any slower."

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While it hasn't gotten slower, I feel like it has taken individual players a while to even define real-time marketing and what it means for them. Sometimes it seems like marketers are going with the "throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks" approach. It's not that it's bad to try new things. It's that the whole notion of real-time, and it's place in the marketing world, are still new and being fleshed out. That, in my opinion, is the biggest challenge in real-time marketing.

Don't just take my word for it. Wiener noted that there is a difference between real-time marketing and marketing in a real-time world. He said that real-time marketing is not just "culture jacking," and that culture jacking isn't for everyone.

I've called it brand jacking in the past, but culture jacking is the same idea: Something happens during something that lots of people are watching/a part of, and a brand then tries to squeeze their way into relevance.

Should marketers do real-time marketing simply to be there...to be a part of what's happening? DiFebo doesn't think so. "That's a no," she asserted. Earlier in the panel, DiFebo said, "Everybody wants to do the cool new thing. You have to decide if that cool new thing is right for you."

Kinsella had similar thoughts. He advised that real-time marketing shouldn't be thought of as "always on." It should be thought of as "always ready."

That's a subtle yet important distinction.

Going back to the "it hasn't gotten any slower" idea, it hasn't gotten any smaller either. Kinsella said that it took three years for one billion tweets to be created. "That now happens in two days," he said. His point was that in order to do real-time right, you have to pick and choose your battles.

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