In the past several months, I have written four reports on real-time marketing. It’s kept me rather busy, hence the long gap between posts here. However, now that I’m prepping for a couple presentations on the topic I’m going to try to get back to posting more often.
In the short time from when Oreo burst on the scene until now, there has been quite a lot of virtual ink spilled over the merits (or lack thereof) of real-time marketing. RTM has officially moved beyond hype and into backlash, questioning and criticism. I’m not surprised. Plenty of pundits criticized social media marketing when it first came on the scene. Before that, it was internet advertising. You could make a business out of tracking the Hype Cycle of various technology and marketing trends (Gartner has).
Of course, we shouldn’t forget the business of virtual worlds, whose hype-backlash pattern seems to correlate with that of RTM. Many marketers spent gobs of money building pavilions in virtual worlds, and basically everything flopped. It could be argued that the money marketers and agencies are spending today to build real-time content studios is a similar waste. Does it really take a room full of people to write a tweet?
However, I think this phase of RTM, with much of the focus on coming up with snappy new twists on newsworthy events, is going to give way to something new. The pieces are being put in place to make RTM much, much bigger than a snappy tweet and a fun graphic image.
Here are just a few examples of how RTM will evolve:
- Mondelez is working on the Smart Shelf, an in-store product which uses technology to guess the age and gender of someone standing nearby and puts up an appropriate ad.
- Google is doing some really interesting things with Google Now, tying together your calendar, your location and more to deliver real-time information to you. My old boss John Battelle does a great job explaining what Google is up to.
- And agencies I’ve talked to are very excited about the idea of doing more with dynamically changing the creative in ads, based on everything from the weather to what items are selling or not selling in stores. Expect to hear more about that next year. (For a peek at one example that’s a couple years old but still relevant, check out what Google did with Alka-Seltzer to re-imagine a classic ad from the brand.)
I think there’s a lot more exciting developments in store next year. I’ll continue to chronicle it at my day job. But in the meantime, in the interest of keeping tabs on all sides of the story, here are some of the recent opinions on RTM — pro, con and “mixed”:
Real-Time Marketing is Bull (yep, it’s positive despite the negative-sounding headline)