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Author: Ashley Friedlein
I started out working in digital TV and multimedia production. I then worked at the Financial Times on arguably the first commercial application of Video on Demand (1996) before getting involved with FT.com as a Producer / Project Manager.
In 1997 I moved to digital communications agency Wheel as the third person in the then 'internet team'. I went through the dotcom boom, seeing Wheel grow from 30 people to 450 in just 3 years, and was involved in launching sites for M&S, Abbey National, IPC Magazines, Autoglass, Channel 5, AMP etc.
Following the dotcom crash (which saw Wheel shrink back to a more modest 90 or so staff) I left and spent a very pleasant sabbatical year writing my second book in the South of France. I then returned to the UK and from June 2002 I have been running Econsultancy full time.
I have written a lot about the opportunities of adopting an agile marketing approach.
However, it is quite hard to find many examples of this being practiced yet, particularly at any kind of scale, and even more particularly by organisations that are not start-ups. IBM is one such example and it is great to see B2B marketing leading the way here.
Ben Edwards is VP, Global Communications & Digital Marketing at IBM. He leads the company's global communications function, global advertising & media, brand strategy & design, digital strategy and IBM Marketing Labs.
Following is a transcript of an interview I did with him to understand IBM's thinking around agile marketing and how this is playing out in practice.
Snow Fall is a beautiful, interactive and immersive multimedia experience about the avalanche at Tunnel Creek in the US.
It was lovingly crafted by The New York Times in 2012 and was heralded as setting new standards in digital storytelling.
Seventeen months later, the publication’s internal innovation report was leaked. It points out that while projects such as Snow Fall are extremely popular, with more than 21m page views, they are not easily replicable.
IBM recently announced a $100m investment in its Interactive Experience arm. Essentially this is IBM’s global digital agency.
At Econsultancy we are currently finalising our annual Top 100 UK Digital Agencies report. Without giving away too much you will see the likes of IBM, Deloitte Digital and Accenture Interactive ranking highly.
It's becoming harder and harder to persuade customers to give us their personal data. Are they more worried about privacy and security post-Snowden?
Are they wary that we marketers will relentlessly spam them once we have their details? Do they find it too difficult to do the data entry on the mobile devices they are increasingly using?
According to recent TRUSTe research 60% of people say they are more concerned about security now than they were a year ago.
It turns out that businesses sharing personal information with other companies (60%) and tracking online behaviour to show targeted ads and content (54%) were the two largest causes of increased online privacy concerns.
And yet there is also plenty of research to show that consumers appreciate personalisation and customisation. According to Adobe’s 'State of Online Advertising' last year, 88% of those surveyed in the EU were neutral or positive about customisation; this figure rose to 94% for the US.
So we face a tough challenge as marketers, as customers seemingly want the benefits of customisation but without giving up any personal data...
What is digital transformation? There is a lot of talk at the moment about this process, where an organisation overhauls its capabilities in order to reach digital enlightenment.
This is a large-scale change that typically takes years and cuts across strategies, people, processes and technology.
While there are internal elements to this, such as new social collaboration tools for employees and adopting more agile ways of working, much of the desired transformation relates to customer-facing activities, especially sales, customer service and marketing.
But what do we really mean when we talk about 'digital' anyway? What is a 'digital organisation'? Clearly we have gone beyond using just ‘online’ or ‘internet’ because those words do not adequately encompass mobile or other channels and media that are increasingly digital.
But I think ‘digital’ actually stands for more even than this...
The events that make up the Festival (Jump, Crunch, Punch, Funnel) cover different aspects of marketing. But perhaps the unifying theme is customer experience, across digital and physical.
The ‘experience economy’ was first proposed by Pine and Gillmore in 1998 in the Harvard Business Review. It describes how economies mature over time from ‘commodity’ through ‘goods’ to ‘services’ and, finally, ‘experiences’.
In this final stage businesses can charge for the value of the "transformation", of the “feeling”, that an experience offers.
We propose that to be a modern marketer you must be comfortable and adept at procuring and using technology to its best advantage. We believe modern marketers will have increasing ownership of technology.
But it isn’t just about the technology solutions or platforms. It is becoming increasingly important that marketers, and certainly digital marketers, have a good grasp of technology fundamentals to be most effective in their jobs.
Having a better technology understanding allows us to understand the ‘art of the possible’ and give us ideas, it helps us work more productively with colleagues in technology teams.
As marketers we are clearly interested in who our customers are. We care about who owns, and has control over, our customer data. The rise of digital channels offers new opportunities to capture customer data and, indeed, different kinds of data such as behavioural, or social, signals.
But there is a battle for identity, and customer data, already under way that looks set to escalate. As the gods of the internet tear the firmament asunder we must consider the implications for us mere marketing mortals.