Although companies still use traditional marketing, organizations are moving toward digital media from traditional marketing for two main reasons, social networking and technological advancements. Social networking forms a two-way communication with consumers and technological advancements provides easy communication with businesses. Traditional media is transaction oriented focusing more on sales instead of the consumer and traditional media strategy involves purchasing more media to gain potential sales. Digital media, on the other hand, is customer focused which generates relationships with customers. Just as the Internet changed the marketplace, integrating social and mobile technologies into the enterprise design forced to shape the digital marketing landscape. As mobile networks become more powerful and wireless networks have broader reach, the 21st century is in a world of ubiquitous access to the Internet. Mobile screens are growing larger and laptops are getting smaller. Consumer decision-making and the immediacy of information is impacting this huge change. Advancements in digital technologies transformed organizations’ way of communicating with consumers where there will be no such thing as offline. One thing is clear that the digital marketing change is evolving rapidly. Search engines, for example, change the rank of web sites all the time and is influenced by social media and Web 2.0 channels. Organizations have to keep up with these changes and keep an eye on future emerging trends to develop newer and smarter search engine algorithms.
Organizations can penetrate the market and reach their targeted audience by using social media advertising. Media advertising is the largest contributor to brand building, therefore successful advertising programs should include themes that communicate company mission, branding and services as well as specific product information. Businesses can use social media advertising by targeting consumers based on demographics and psychographic information. According to a recent BIA/Kelsey forecast in May 2012, United States social media advertising spending will increase from $3.8 billion in 2011 to $9.8 billion in 2016, with the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) total spend estimated at 21% on social display and non-social display (“U.S. social,” 2012).
Social media marketing assists companies with sales growth as well as provides businesses a venue to reach a larger target audience. A recent study showed consumers choosing cheaper brands during a recession and although the economy improved, the customers were more comfortable with the cheaper brand and chose not to switch back (Reynar, Phillips, & Heumann, 2010). The finding suggests organizations should intensify their marketing and advertising to prevent consumers from switching. In addition, companies can create visibility and build brand equity by using various forms of social media advertising such as online display advertisements.
Online-targeted advertising measures at the individual consumer level, therefore, organizations would need to make sweeping changes to the way they approach marketing, advertising, and consumers. To illustrate, rich media and promotions on video streaming can enhance a company’s profile and static banner advertisements linked to coupons or events can encourage consumers to try out a product or service. A variety of factors including the economy, product innovation, and competitive marketing play a role in the organization results. Ultimately, new organizational strategies and tools are required in digital marketing to connect effectively with consumers.
Analytics, offered by many social networking sites, are helping businesses target consumer needs and identifying emerging trends. Social media analytics are helpful in determining the path where traffic is generated, content that appeals to consumers, and demographics that are involved. Many businesses are recognizing the need to use social media analytics to discover evolving trends, thus prompting organizations to offer new analytics services and products. For example, Facebook Insights provide metrics and record data for each business page. SAS entered the social media analytics business by offering solutions that integrate, archive, analyze, and enable organizations to act on intelligence from media sites (“SAS social,” 2012).
Trendspotting is an important marketing intelligence tool to identify and track consumer interests and behavior tendencies (Du & Kamakura, 2012). Trendspotting is currently conducted qualitatively by searching for signs of major shifts in consumer wants and needs, or quantitatively by monitoring individual indicators such as keywords or blogs.
As customers use search engines to gather service and product information, read reviews online, and communicate through social media, a wealth of real-time indicators of their behaviors, interests, and opinions become an available new source of information for organizations to conduct market sensing, leading to more insightful and timely marketing intelligence. Market sensing traditionally involved analyzing and tracking vital marketplace indicators (Du & Kamakura, 2012).
Many online trending services such as Facebook Insights gather and track individual indicators and provide search volume indexes for queries. More integrated services can cover multiple platforms simultaneously such as Trendrr (trndrr.com) to monitor public comments about brands, services, or products in real-time across a large spectrum of social media and digital media (Du & Kamakura, 2012). Companies can monitor and obtain trends by studying tracking metrics online. Although online trending can be useful, tracking data primarily base on the trajectory of a single indicator. Individual indicators can be unreliable and noisy, containing idiosyncrasies that hide real trends lying underneath (Du & Kamakura, 2012). In order for organizations not to read too much into the individual indicator, it seems better to simultaneously identify and interpret common trend lines under a large number of time series also known as quantitative trendspotting (Du & Kamakura, 2012).
Long before online consumer interest trending services emerged, trend analysis was an integral part of marketing intelligence by tracking and identifying consumer tendencies. Until the widespread use of search engines, digital, and social media, trendspotting was qualitative since it relies heavily on recognizing and interpreting signs of a new trend. Quantitative trendspotting is about trends in the tradition of time-series analysis or trend lines of a collection of longitudinal measures (Du & Kamakura, 2012). On the other hand, qualitative trendspotting is about forecasting the shift in consumer interest or behavior, such as the emergence of a new paradigm (Du & Kamakura, 2012). In other words, quantitative trendspotting focuses on uncovering trends that already exist, which may come about in the near future, whereas qualitative trendspotting is attempting to seek out radical departures from the past that may reshape the marketplace in the future (Du & Kamakura, 2012).
The previous millennium ended and the commencement of the current millennium is moving from traditional rating measurement systems that supported traditional media to online-targeted measurements. The digital landscape has changed so dramatically that organizations find it challenging to measure return on investment (ROI) accurately for marketing campaign efforts. Media purchase varies from one subset of digital media to another while created media plans achieve marketing objectives. In the ROI measurement process, each component measured requires appropriate metrics. Broad reach media use awareness metrics, whereas targeted advertising use direct response metrics (Haiges & Lewis).
Organizations are interested not only in the outcome of the marketing effort but also in understanding the entire purchasing process of the consumer. Understanding consumers is the key to long-term loyalty, profitability, and engagement. With numerous interactive channels, such as social media, came a mountain of available data for obtaining consumer insights and effective marketing. The integration of the multi-channel data is complex leaving businesses overwhelmed and unable to derive relevant insights (Mindtree, 2012).
Measuring success and tracking effectiveness in terms of engagement is challenging for some companies, although Econsultancy and Adobe found 57 percent of companies globally indicated tracking effectiveness of engagement (number of followers, time spent on social sites, and comments) as a form of media measurement (“Deepest level,” 2012). While the number of followers and likes is a good marketing tactic, it is not necessarily an appropriate media measure. More engagement metrics such as shares and comments are better ways to measure the value of social media efforts. The development of social networking sites involve consumers turning from searching for information from the news and search engines to asking a wider circle of friends for advice. Although social media is ubiquitous, the full marketing utilization is still untapped (Micu, Dedeker, Lewis, Moran, Netzer, Plummer, & Rubinson, 2011). Integration of social sites with other sources of media will increase business opportunities to obtain marketing insights from online word-of-mouth content. By observing consumers’ purchase behavior and social media habits, companies can use the information to identify and target consumers.
Companies strive to achieve organizational efficiency by focusing their efforts on improving business decisions by strategically gathering information, analyzing data and forecasting future behaviors. Organizations have to be agile to improve processes in the race to sustain a competitive advantage. Media options continue to expand due to technological advances; therefore, media planners require new tools to conduct analyses. Companies invest heavily in information-base development and mining tools, customizing both internal and external information (Micu, Dedeker, Lewis, Moran, Netzer, Plummer, & Rubinson, 2011).
In analyzing digital media, research and forecasts show tremendous growth from 2011 to 2016. Forecasts conducted by Forrester Research with a baseline of 2011 graphs comparing mobile marketing, social media, and email marketing Growth of Digital Marketing in the US-Forrester Research. By 2016, forecasts indicate mobile marketing growth will be 499%, social media growth will be 315%, and email-marketing growth will be 164% over 5 years. Combining mobile marketing, social media, and email marketing, the overall growth will be 409% from 2011 to 2016 (“Growth of digital,” 2012). New digital devices and services along with improved technologies enhance interactions among organizations and consumers resulting in increased growth in digital marketing. Advanced technologies permit interactions that are more efficient and involve greater value in digital marketing.
Improving quality and efficiency increases the organization’s ability to communicate, adapt, transact, and innovate (“The impact,” 2011). Better quality of interactions and efficiency translates into increased productivity and sharpened competitiveness. The advent of Cloud infrastructure and high-performance wireless capacity is causing a proliferation of capabilities and new offerings for businesses to serve consumers. Connection permits more interactions that are more efficient and involve richness of communicated information. Enhanced technology in communication, such as mobile devices, increases efficiency and makes it possible to conduct interactions anywhere and anytime.
Dominated by consumer behaviors that are participatory, collaborative, and interactive, the Web 2.0 age includes disseminators and co-creators of content (Steenburgh & Avery, 2011). Consumers contribute and share content and personal experiences with others making the online experience social rather than individualistic. The digital age provides the opportunity for organizations to engage with consumers across multiple channels. From mobile devices and interactive television advertisements, businesses and consumers are getting a seemingly endless supply of emerging technology. The disruption by Internet technology of classic marketing principles and practices has replaced the traditional marketplace with a cyber marketspace. An example of a cyber marketspace is Amazon’s mobile shopping application that offers online price comparisons to consumers. Ubiquitous on demand information impacts consumers’ shopping decisions. Emerging technologies has led to a shift in the way consumers interact with brands as well as the creation of four cultural values and ideologies: consumer co-creation, social affiliation, digital self-expression, and sharing.
Consumer co-creation provides consumers the ability to contribute content to the online conversation (Steenburgh & Avery, 2011). Information technology enables consumer collaboration with businesses empowering them in the co-creation of activities and their readiness to participate in future co-creation opportunities. Co-creation implies collaboration with the consumer and the creation of value.
Connecting consumers to others formed the basis for the second cultural value of Web 2.0: social affiliation. Increasingly, customers are achieving a sense of community through virtual connections with other people online (Steenburgh & Avery, 2011). Virtual communities include members, managers, and other factors depending on the goal of the community, and are all about communication.
In turn, consumers capture the desire to express their identities within virtual connections through digital self-expression. Digital self-expression, also known as avatars are three-dimensional digital representations of a person, created in games. Avatars created in a two-dimensional form represent a person as an icon. The avatar can represent the person in virtual worlds or communities.
Through the construction of online social networks and communities, consumers are building peer-to-peer relationships that enable them to quickly share information, create, and collaborate. As a result, consumers no longer want to be the target of marketers, but rather, they want to be their partners and collaborate (Steenburgh & Avery, 2011). With the advent of Cloud, sharing information online with businesses and consumers is faster and easier.
Web 2.0 provides gathering places for consumers in social network sites. These sites leave massive amounts of data that make it difficult in obtaining insights for businesses since consumer-created content are often unstructured and large in magnitude. Tools such as text mining which is the process of structuring information from text, provide organizations with the capability to maximize insights in real-time from the information flow.