In his official prognostication for the New Year, Passikoff cited the formation of a joint task force of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), the Advertising Research Foundation (AFR), and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) as a first step toward developing a metric for return-on-investment assessments.
"There has been some waffling around engagement, because people have not been able to put the metrics they need in place, and that is going to damage marketing efforts," Passikoff told Marketing Daily. "Marketers and advertisers need to direct themselves towards this--people who ignore this do so at their peril."
Passikoff noted that big box retailer Best Buy has done a great job in terms of understanding how levels of engagement can be a hugely important differentiating factor among retailers. "A box is a box is a box," he said, "but customer service stands out."
Best Buy really shines, Passikoff said, when compared to Wal-Mart, whose brand strategy of trying to play up its big size and low prices at the expense of almost everything else in the marketing equation has worn thin.
"Being big is not going to do it anymore. Low prices are not enough. Customers are asking themselves who they can trust to understand their needs and advise them on their purchases: someone on the floor of Wal-Mart or someone on the floor of Best Buy?"
Meanwhile, blogging is a form of content Passikoff thinks will increase in importance next year. Expedia, Google and Wells Fargo are his examples of trendsetters in engaging consumers and moving toward creating what he calls "communities of ones" in the digital world. He also expects companies to use technology and engagement to better communicate with customer expectations.
Innovation and loyalty will matter even more in 2007, Passikoff said, commending brands like Apple and Starbucks for their informed action plans that accurately track what people on the consumer side really feel, want and do with their loyalty and dollars.
"In the face of increased lack of differentiation, only innovation and increased level of loyalty will actively guarantee a positive bottom line and increased profitability in 2007," he said.