Marketing has gone through many evolutions over the last several decades. The advent of technology and what is being called the fourth industrial revolution, has only compounded the pace and impact of change. One must have a keen understanding of the past, and what has driven its failures and successes, to be able to obtain the vision required to successfully lead a brand today. With that in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to look both back and forward with one of marketing and advertising’s greatest innovators.
For my latest Ask the CMO column, I had the privilege of sitting down with Jon Bond, author, entrepreneur, co-founder of Kirshenbaum Bond + Partners and currently Chairman of SITO Mobile. We had the opportunity to talk about everything ranging from the latest changes disrupting the marketing landscape, to the rise of mini malls, customers leveraging their own data and his upcoming new book Gods + Charlatans. Following is a recap of our conversation:
Billee Howard: There are so many different changes that are going on in the marketing and media landscape. What does it all mean?
Jon Bond: It’s all about evolution. Specifically, technology makes things possible that weren't possible before. Some biggies are 5G. the Internet of Things, and the fourth industrial revolution. Net net, the next generation of marketing is going to be very different than the last generation, and a lot of new companies are going to appear, just as we saw in the recent past with the Uberization of business. Companies that literally could not have existed before will emerge.
As a result of all that, a few key new things are going to happen. The consumer is going to move from a passive recipient of marketing, to becoming a partner in the kinds of marketing they receive. The consumer of today grew up with marketing. The data Facebook provides on your social dashboard is the kind of thing I would have charged clients a fortune to deliver fifteen years ago, now, it’s free, and available for my kids to use to build their own social followings. The consumer is becoming cognizant of their value as a target audience and rather than fight it, they will soon be able to leverage their value and perhaps even monetize it themselves, rather than be exploited by advertisers and platforms.
There's a breach of trust and consumers don't want any of their private information out there. I think the next thing is going to be a market correction and reversal of that trend. Consumers are going to start to switch dramatically from “ do not track me” to “please double track me.”Guess what? I have had three BMW sports cars in a row, each with a three-year lease, and my current car lease is up in six months. Why don’t you tell me all the cars I should consider, and who can give me the best deal given my huge LTV! Screw sharing my data. I’m not just sharing, I’m going to hold my value over your head and extort the crap out of you. The tables will turn.
Howard: How is this all going to manifest itself?
Bond: It will require opting in. Knowledge is power, and when the consumer gains knowledge of their own value to brands, they will start to negotiate with them to get a fair piece of the action, especially in groups. Influencers will aggregate consumers and brands will have to negotiate deals with them to access the best segments. Imagine if every consumer had their own procurement agent? DTC goes both ways you know. CTD is coming. I really should trademark that term. I'll give you a great example of how I see it. Let's look at the difference today between search and display. So, search is built on this idea of usefulness. The algorithm is designed so that you, the consumer, can find what you need as quickly as possible, and that feedback loop ensures that search remains a useful tool. Now compare that to display ads. There is no such feedback loop.
Display is essentially spam, with the exception of retargeting, which works because you’ve actually taken an action to signal interest, display is an uninvited guest to the party. Let's say Billee that you've never clicked on an ad in your entire life. You’d think that would be a good signal that you aren’t into display ads. So, that being the case, is the DSP or publisher still going to fire ads at you? Yes. Why? Because they make money doing it because you're a good demographic. And, they can make money doing it all day long. So, my point is that you are disassociated from the whole process and that's why you hate display ads and banners, and why with the way things are heading now, there will be a big reversal, driven by a consumer powered digital ecosystem that resembles search more than banner ads.
Howard: Super interesting. So, how do you take someone like myself who hates all of that incessant firing of ads, but would desire the personalized experience you just outlined. How do you bridge that chasm with someone like me who would be interested in the future offering you are describing but is so tarnished by the experiences of the past?
Bond: I'm going to use Sito Mobile, a Nasdaq company where I'm currently Chairman as an example. So, of all the things you can do to signal interest, physically showing requires the biggest commitment. It’s not even about your demographics. If you’re the person at the counter at Bergdorf Goodman right now., I can be pretty sure that you’re a very good prospect to buy a luxury good. Over time, I think marketing will become a service to the consumer, not an unwanted imposition, not an intrusion. Let's say you like a certain kind of hard -to -find wine, and you're walking down the street. If I’m a wine merchant, I can message you, “Hey you know that wine you like? It's just arrived over at store X down the street.” You as a customer are immediately going to think, wow, thanks. That's the future, when marketing emerges as a service that you might even pay for. This can only happen when I as a brand have enough data on you to predict your likes and dislikes, and location will be a big part of that.
Howard: So you actually believe that in the future we will view marketing as a concierge to deliver anything we desire with ease?
Bond: Yes, that’s why you hear so much about delivering ‘experiences.’ Marketing itself will have intrinsic value to the consumer.
Let’s talk about retail. I don’t think retail is dead, it's just hiding. To me, the key to retail is something I'm calling the showroom effect. As an example, a retailer might conclude that a particular store “lost money” because it cost them six million dollars to generate in store revenue of five million dollars. What’s incomplete about this statement is that it lacks a good attribution model that identifies and measures the store’s consumers who bought online, but went into the store first and wouldn’t have bought without that positive store visit. With this additional information you’re able to say, “Oh wait a second, the in store experience was responsible for ten million dollars in incremental online revenue," and the correct conclusion is that the store made money.
Howard: So in the past, I heard the concept of show rooming described as a negative because people were ignoring it as it was detracting from instore sales. So you're saying you should fold the concept into your ecosystem and figure out how to make it a driver of performance?
Bond: Yeah. There are going to be four customer journeys retailers you will need to map: 1) Digital to Digital: I saw a product online and bought it online. 2) Offline to Offline: I walked by a store and purchased a product old school, without ever seeking information online. 3) Online to Retail: I started my purchase journey online and then bought in the physical store : 4) retail to online …..this is the showroom effect as mentioned earlier. There isn’t just one journey, brands must develop a customer journey portfolio, with specific blueprints of how to optimize each.
Howard: So, a lot of people that I have known throughout my career are going to direct to consumer brands, many that you would never imagine would be a direct to consumer offering. What do you think this is all about, and do you assume, like I do, that this will continue?
Bond: Yeah it's going to continue because it's just more efficient. However, the problem with online direct to consumer is it’s really hard to build a brand, because there's nothing as good as the experience of being in a physical place where you can control the entire experience. You are going to see more micro stores, and I think this will become a reimagined micro mall. That's why experiential marketing is hot, because you can’t recreate the same experience online that you can in a physical space. Nobody does brand advertising anymore, so I think a 360 degree immersive experience is the replacement for brand advertising.
Howard: Do you think there are any critical technologies or components that people should be considering when creating experiences today that actually move people to act as opposed to just entertaining them?
Bond: Yeah. One of the things I have been pushing at Sito lately is for us to be a measurement tool for experience. People have never really used mobile technology or mobile technology data to inform experiences. Our tool tracks wherever people go and whatever they do, anonymously, and it allows us to look back at the data and answer questions like: What events at SXSW attracted which target? Who converted later on and who didn’t. Measurement of events is mostly a big mystery.
Howard: Trends for the year ahead…..anything interesting you saw in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress for example?
Bond: What was interesting was that some traditional brands like electric toothbrushes now have a booth. That’s just shocking, and made everyone go and think about it. Wireless data is being embedded in every product. Every company acts like a cell phone today. That’s going to be a huge trend.
Howard:. That’s really interesting. So just like every company became a technology company, every company is going to become a data company?
Bond: Yes. The idea is to embed some kind of chip in their product. They can learn from what happens with a built in feedback mechanism. That's kind of interesting.
Howard: Interesting, yet it's a little scary too.
Bond: Trust is going to be the thing that opens this up. For illustrative purposes, trust is critical when considering that I purchased an app that is gathering data on me from my scale, that not only tracks my weight but it also tracks all kinds of other health metrics. But, first I have to trust you enough to opt in. Right? You have these DNA testing companies, which a lot of people are skittish about, and they should be because they have all this critical information. But, if you can get beyond the trust issues, you can open up this whole world where instead of pondering if you want pieces of your data out there, you want people to have more data about you. Why? Because if done correctly, it helps you.
Howard: So anything else you wanted to talk about related to the new book you’re working on?
Bond: Sure, it’s called Gods + Charlatans. The Greatest (Marketing) Stories Ever Told. It's a nod to the gods part. It's just a whole lot of marketing ideas that are all executed through a story that someone can remember and I think it also has humor and entertainment value. My goal is to be able to combine humor and entertainment in a similar way they were combined in David Ogilvy’s Confessions of an Advertising Man. Although David’s book was also a best seller, not coincidentally, I think most of the books about the industry are either educational like text books or they're entertaining but don't really teach you anything. I'm trying to do both at once and we'll see if it succeeds.