When I started my career in digital marketing 10 years ago we were living through the first phase of marketing technology. This was a world of banners, microsites, search and email. As a digital marketer you didn’t work with much technology but if you did, it most likely revolved around a category called advertising technology with DoubleClick or Aquantive for banners, marketing automation for email, or analytics like Omniture for your website. This phase of digital can be thought of as the web phase of digital. A snapshot of this phase can be seen here:
1st Phase: Web
Largest internet media companies in 2005 by market cap: Google ($100B), Yahoo ($15B), AOL (~$1B)
During the first phase Google established itself as the most dominant marketing company in the world by owning search and they also made big acquisitions with marketing technology like DoubleClick.
The challenge for the first phase is advertising technology breaks down as the PC becomes less relevant. Almost all advertising technology, outside of email, revolves around web browsers and banners. This technology thrived in a browser based world that allowed for cookies to be dropped on users and retargeted through messaging that primarily came in the form of banners.
Social and more specifically mobile renders almost all this technology ineffective. Social gathers almost all it’s data from first-party information, in other words, the data that you naturally give to a platform like Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn. Mobile eliminated any additional space that banners once occupied and forced both platforms and publishers to think about a native offering that strikes at a more consistent user experience than what banners can offer.
If you believe, like we do, that the first phase lives and dies with the PC, then the trend doesn’t look great:
This brings us to the second phase, one that started to really gain traction in 2009 as Facebook passed 300 million users. Social in this phase for marketers was still on the web (ie. in the browser) and marketers spent millions of dollars on building Facebook microsites, often called tabs. A snapshot of the second phase can be seen here:
2nd Phase: Social Web
Largest internet media companies in 2010 by market cap: Google ($140B), Yahoo ($14B), Facebook ($10B)
A new type of technology emerged in this second phase called SMMS (Social Media Management Systems). This technology served two functions. The first was focused on helping to build out the equivalent of microsites on Facebook in the form of tabs (to be fair, at the time this was really the only marketing solution available to brands). When Mark Zuckerberg spoke in the summer of 2013 and said Facebook was a mobile company moving forward that was an official signal that Facebook tabs were over and brands needed to re-align their focus on Facebook to take advantage of their mobile marketing solution, sponsored posts.
The second technology function that SMMS served was to help manage the explosion of CRM and customer service inquiries that occurred on social. The goal of this technology was to help brands build out their monitoring and response solutions, everything from being a new 1-800-number for social to building out customer profiles to crisis management. The Altimeter Group put together a nice slide on how SMMS differentiates itself along these lines:
What are the two critical elements missing from this chart as it relates to opportunity that marketing now has and the internet that we are now dealing with?
Content and Mobile. Without a vision for content or mobile, part of SMMS marketing technology is left behind as a PC-centric solution and one that Facebook no longer actively promotes. The customer service solution side of SMMS is still thriving but it doesn’t solve the most strategic opportunity platforms and marketers have. That new opportunity brings us to phase 3.
3rd Phase: Social + Mobile
Largest internet media companies by market cap: Google ($400B), Facebook ($170B), Twitter ($30B), LinkedIn ($25B)
The combination of social + mobile creates an entirely new phase of marketing technology. From a media perspective, the promise is mobile media companies have larger global audiences and more sophisticated data and targeting than we have ever seen before. This is reflected in the market caps of social + mobile companies, for the first time ever, they are the largest media companies in the world:
In all cases, the native ad unit on these social + mobile platforms is content and marketers have been forced to move from creating a few pieces of content per year, like they did in traditional media, to creating hundreds of pieces of content per day as they have the opportunity to reach global audiences at a moment’s notice.
The media opportunity is only the outward-facing effect of this third phase.
The other opportunity for the marketing department that the third phase creates is how the marketing department changes inside the enterprise in a social mobile world.
The CMO and the marketing department have the potential to touch a much larger part of the organization than they ever did before. Every employee is on social and every employee is mobile. Never before, in the history of the enterprise, was there more of a transitional time for marketing to expand their reach.
What a marketer needs now is a system of technology that manages the creation and distribution of all this content with centralized oversight. The marketer moves from someone that once only moved content to audiences, to someone that needs to move content through the whole organization. In this new world the marketer has the ability to touch sales, HR and almost any department that puts social and mobile at the center of their activities.
This is our vision at Percolate and what we are building towards every day. For the marketer, we want to create a way for them to easily touch the whole organization and the massive global audiences that social and mobile now reach. The ability to do all this with Percolate creates a new type of marketer. A marketer that moves from campaign based communication to sustained communication. A marketer that moves from buying media to building systems. A marketer that moves from an average tenure of 24 months as a CMO to being the most strategic executive in the organization after the CEO. A marketer that puts technology at the very center of their marketing process.
This is the next phase of marketing and we are excited about building it.