Steal the Show with Real Time Marketing Content

As we begin a new year and the holiday promotions come to a close, the buzz shifts to the infamous Super Bowl ads. While many believe the main attraction of this internationally televised event to be the football game itself, many others prep their homemade guacamole and boneless buffalo wings in anticipation of the true star of the show—the commercials.

We’ll likely revisit the Oreo story, the real time marketing moment that stole the show in Super Bowl marketing last year. The enormous stage is set,  and every brand marketer is thinking that they too can steal the show. So what should these brands be doing to prepare for an “Oreo moment” at the big game in 2014? And more importantly, what exactly is real time marketing?

ANA Shares Real Time Example

The team at ANA was asking the same question as they mapped out their event plans for 2013. On December 3rd and 4th, at the ANA Real Time Marketing conference, we discussed effective examples of brands embracing social networks, data, and light content to raise the bar in consumer engagement. Even more impressive was hearing from big brands at large multination corporations, demonstrating the nimbleness you’d expect from smaller, entrepreneurial brands.

What Time Is It?

Let’s cut to the real star of the 2013 Super Bowl: real time marketing. Oreo brought it to the world’s attention with one (simply genius) tweet. Real time marketing can be an array of things, all in real time—data analysis, using those analytics to insert brands into a conversation, monitor conversations about your brand, creative developed on the spot, brands having conversations with individual consumers, etc.

What are brands doing now? What have they learned about techniques that work and how do they begin to implement these  [link:]? Here are a few notes on what we learned from brands such as Purina, Hasbro, Kraft, Mini, Anheuser-Busch and Coke.

Key Real Time Takeaways

Big data is a big buzzword. Keep in mind that effective real time marketing not only depends on a lot of data, but – more importantly – relevant actionable insights. The data will drive strategy, inform results, and guide adaptation. Many of the brands also spoke to the importance of real time marketing efforts being measured against overall brand business goals – i.e. sales.

Speed and Agility
The most effective and interesting examples were when brands could respond quickly to something happening in pop culture or a comment or photo from a consumer. The ability to respond and engage one to one – or in the moment – takes a brand from something being marketed to consumers to something that’s alive in its communication. However, you can’t have speed and agility without well strategized planning.

Planning Ahead
Lee Nadler of MINI said it best—be prepared to be spontaneous. Pop culture, sports and current events (to name a few) are great sources of national conversation and highly engaged consumers. However, it is an unpredictable wave to ride when trying to leverage a moment. A calendar of likely “events” can help you live the “be prepared to be spontaneous” mantra. We all know the dates (or range of dates) when many pop culture, political, sports or entertainment events will occur i.e. The Super Bowl, State of the Union, release of national economic data and birth of a royal child. Plan ahead for how your brand might resonate with these events, and their audiences. There will still need to be a creative spontaneity, but a calendar and plan can give you a leg up on engaging opportunities throughout the year.

Create a Scalable Solution for Content Development
Content for real time marketing is often “light” content – an image, infographic, clever headline or short copy, a quick video, etc. To produce it, at scale and to resonate, you need a process – one that includes data insights, a creative team that can act on the spot and a relevant distribution plan. The Starcom team talked about their process and structure: define, design, deliver, drive and measure. Where do you get people who can produce content fast? Several speakers referenced media/publishing/broadcast – all content producers used to producing stories in real time.

This was consistently the area most frequently asked about by the audience. All brands talked about the importance of planning ahead and defining the guardrails. To be more effective, take it a step further and have someone from the legal department actively sitting with the marketing team during key real time events that your brand wants to leverage.

Shift in Budgets
Across the board, brands talked about shifting budgets from paid media to owned and earned, with the stated objective of shifting dollars to owned media vs. paid. One question was a reminder of some internal hurdles companies may face – how do you measure the impact of working media dollars vs. non-working? Many would define most real time marketing expense as non-working. This issue goes back to using the data to inform your plan, and also inform how budgets will be shifting and the end impact of those shifts.

Paid Media
While clients did talk about shifting dollars, some are thinking how real time marketing works its way into paid media. Ad buying is shifting to programmatic buying, and in real time. As paid media can continue to be nimble, supported by data and activated real time, it can have a key role in real time marketing.

Stand Out and Connect

The overriding ideas coming out of the conference were data, insights, planning and speed (responding, creating, approving, publishing). Brands will stand out as consumers start to feel there is more than just a clever slogan or well designed logo behind a company.

Real time marketing has the opportunity for a brand to truly connect with consumers and tap into their needs – real and emotional – and have that engagement stand out from the thousands of messages bombarding consumers everyday.

Share great examples of real time marketing in the comments below! Or enlighten us on how your team tackles this growing trend.

By Angus Macaulay

Keep reading in Strategy