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The Rise of Social Commerce (s-Commerce)

We've seen companies like Amazon and Facebook transition from a laser-focused CD and movie source and social media network respectively, into multi-faceted money making machines.  Amazon has positioned itself as THE online marketplace in the United States and has diversified into other web services like hosting and marketing as well as developing its own distribution infrastructure to the point that it can rival virtually any logistics company and it has its sights set on grocers too.

Meanwhile, Facebook has gone from cool collegiate exclusivity to the most ubiquitous social channel in the world.  Recently, Facebook revealed that it would amplify its existing e-commerce ads to account for showcase shopping ads.  Just like Google, Facebook is taking advantage of their online resources to help advertisers push more merchandise just in time for holiday shopping.  The new ad format allows advertisers to display one main picture with several product images that would, ostensibly, have their own unique landing pages.  This gives the potential consumer a broader understanding of what the retailer may be selling and what's specially priced.

Pandora's box is open and there's no going back. Linking a bank account to everyone's personal Facebook page isn't far off and this may raise security concerns all over the world, but for now, social media will undoubtedly see a rise in sell-through, especially with reasonably priced impulse buys.  It will continue to command an ever-increasing amount of your advertising budget as their ads evolve in terms of what can be done with them creatively and who can be targeted strategically.  Currently, only a few heavy hitters are testing out the new format, but look for a wider roll-out soon with other companies following suit in 2017.  Admittedly, I laughed derisively when some people claimed that Facebook was coming for Google.  Well, it appears that not only do they want to compete with Google, but with Amazon and Alibaba as well.  What's more is that they seem to have the golden touch right now and I wouldn't put anything past them.

Mobile Evolution:  The Rise Of The Pocket Economy

At the turn of the millennium, the internet changed the way companies in general did business.  The dawn of the digital age brought many companies to their collective knees, creating a life-or-death scenario for those who were slow to take the on-ramp to the Information Superhighway and completely reshaping entire industries.  There was a mass extinction of many brick and mortar businesses, seismic shifts in how music & television is produced and consumed (ask a millennial what the last CD they bought was, and you're apt to get a puzzled look) and a vast frontier of new and emerging business opportunities in fields that were being created in response to these new and exciting technologies.  

 

The rate at which new technology has been introduced to the masses has historically outpaced the rate at which companies can utilize it.

 

Here we are in 2016, standing at the precipice of another big shift in “tech-tonic” trends and this time, more businesses are preparing to go to war.  The weapon of choice will be the most advanced way to target the masses while still finding ways to target individuals across demographics: mobile advertising.

It’s forecasted that by 2020, mobile advertising will account for nearly 75% of all digital ad spends.  While desktop ads still get their share of the current digital spend, the rate at which companies have been shifting gears to focus more on mobile advertising has grown to the point where 2016 should be the year that mobile surpasses desktop, and once that happens, there will be no looking back.

The Golden Apple

AT&T will no longer be a part of the 30 companies counted toward the calculation of the Index.  This comes on the heels of a 7-1 stock split by Apple, which lowered the price/share to a much more reasonable $125.  Apple is one of, if not THE most valuable company out there and it will no doubt rev up the DOW engine, and potentially bloat the index initially.  I can't help but be excited even though I know the metrics will be somewhat skewed initially.  This is an exciting time as numbers in most major indexes are seeing record numbers.  Some will say that this is a bubble nearing an explosion, but on the other side of that spatial model, they will tell you that the DOW could approach 23,000 within a year or two.  The truth may lie somewhere in the middle.  Whatever the case may be, I look forward to what is to come of it.

Tradition vs Evolution:  Go Team….Go?

     Many top-tier Div. I football programs fund the bulk of their entire university athletic departments, or at least support athletic programs at their schools that cannot or would not be able to support themselves otherwise.  They often bring a significant amount of business to the towns that host their games as well.  The impact is especially great in smaller cities.

     In 2013, the University of Nebraska paid $2.1 million to the University of Southern Mississippi to move their match-up from Hattiesburg to Lincoln.  This move increased the Huskers game day revenue by 14%, and brought an estimated $8 million to the local economy (forbes.com, December 2012).  While Southern Mississippi reaps the benefits of the venue change, the local economy in Hattiesburg will not see any of the influx of revenue that it would have enjoyed from visiting Husker fans. 

      West Virginia paid $20 million to leave the Big East (a conference made up mostly of east coast teams, as the name would suggest) and join the Big-12 (teams based primarily across the central states), which had just secured a lucrative media contract with ESPN and Fox, to the tune of $2.6 billion.  While television deals are a boon to conferences, schools individual earnings remain the driving force behind their overall financial success.

     Teams are willing to eschew decades of tradition to enhance their economic futures.  The opportunity for increased revenue and brand growth outweighed the decades of economic ties between teams and communities that benefited mutually from long-standing, yearly rivalry match-ups. 

     These efforts to expand brand awareness, whether through marketing themselves to recruits in new territories by moving to a more prestigious athletic conference, or expanding their fan base by endeavoring into new territories, shows that teams are willing to embrace non-traditional methods of evolving their business models in an effort to ensure continued fiscal success in the years to come.

Marketing Evolved

Consumers are continually becoming more and more sophisticated, especially in an age where we now quantify and track everything.  This allows marketers and advertisers to embrace that kind of transparency, put together their own research, and disseminate that information to a more targeted audience, which makes your advertising far more efficient with fewer wasted dollars.  The role marketing plays has become more comprehensive, including processes such as planning, implementation, and monitoring & analytics (Manning and Reece, 2008).  Analytics have become increasingly important because consumers want to measure success and revise the plan of attack if there are any shortcomings.  Instead of putting together a plan and putting the product out there for eyes to see, the marketer now needs to make sure the right eyes see it and with a certain amount of frequency.  

 

At the end of the day, the name of the game is value, and what you can bring to the table will ultimately determine your level of success.  Offering a superior value guarantees satisfaction which earns loyalty (Day, 1994).  Marketing in contemporary America now favors the cultivation of relationships, proving once and for all that it is, and always has been, all about the people.