Future of Digital Marketing Notes - Part 2

20 June 2011Cleve Gibbon

As promised, here are more notes from the Future of Digital Marketing 2011 event hosted by Econsultancy in London.

Alex Gisbert, Expedia Europe

This was a really interesting session. Expedia are game changers and this presentation shared some of their insights, namely Expedia Everywhere:

“Our vision is to delight the Earth's travelers by enabling them to dream, book and enjoy travel anytime, anywhere. Our mission is to reinvent travel for the web 3.0 by streaming perfect trips and the most relevant personalised offers to our customers by delivering the simplest, easiest, most delightful, one-stop travel experience. “

Expedia do not want their website to remain just a function and but desire for it to have a role within their customers lives. When brands become verbs, you have that role. Being Skype'd, Youtube'd and Google'd is a clear sign of success. Over time, display advertising at Expedia has been less relevant in the portfolio of tactics. The future is more in the unstructured world of social media and key partnerships with publishers such as Yahoo, AOL, Libero and Le monde.

These guys generate traffic and providing useful services through widgets is a growing market. Provisions for mobile and desktop widgets and tools will facilitate this. A handcrafted booking widget that is more useful than a plain vanilla display banner is actually part of the new advertising model. The reality for display advertising at Expedia is that there is more data, more countries, more rules, more placements and more media. However, less than 1% of their business comes from display advertisements. More bookings and travel experiences occur off-site and outside of Expedia.

But how do you bring services such as the new advertisement widgets to market? With Open APIs. These APIs specify how both content and function can be distributed across web. Setting free your content is about providing a platform that lets others consume in ways that businesses could never imagine. This isn't new for technologists. Google, Yahoo, Twitter, YouTube, et al have been doing it for years. And now, online businesses are finally letting go of their content. At Expedia, this initiative is referred to as Expedia Access. At Expedia, traditional advertising is not the way of the future. The future of advertising is Expedia Access.

Oh, Best Buy is already somewhat down the Open API road. Their video is probably the best way to help communicate the benefits of using Open APIs to setting your content free.

Claire Higgins, Virgin Atlantic

Claire spoke about Online Community Management at the FODM event. She stressed on the need to compete in a new way and at Virgin Atlantic, they are executing a 3 pillar strategy:

  • Serve: Help customers.
  • Sell: Soft sell. Build relationships. Listen first, sell second.
  • Socialise: become a role within customer lives - be social.

It's important to listen and be prepared to accept feedback. Customers appreciate 1 hour response times. It's social media and it’s quick! A number of examples were presented, including a campaign to support and engage within their plane spotting community. The ideas centered around creating content that services your community. Claire highlighted the 7 C's for online community management (create, community, commerce, content, conversation, connection and continuity) where the future is to focus on converting consumers from 'like' to 'love'.


The final part of the morning session was a panel discussion and this was dominated really by a question around online display advertising. Mr. X posited that online display advertising still plays an important part in probably less established businesses during the acquisition stages in the marketing funnel. For Expedia, their services through widgets are more about converting prospects. In response to that Alex asked where would you invest your last $100, in display advertising or tactics in the social media/unpaid spaces. Safe to say, the debate went on. It concluded by focusing on conversion for larger brands, but for smaller ones raise awareness and build advocacy. To raise awareness in your communities, remember video is a key vehicle for that important message, rather than traditional display advertising.

It was interesting to note that Virgin Atlantic manage an in-house marketing team and leverage external agencies for expertise in various strategic initiatives. Claire reiterated that the best people to respond to Virgin Atlantic’s customers were Virgin Atlantic’s own.

Segmentation came up again. Many believe segmentation is broken. Segmentation models continue to evolve. Businesses need to personalise to provide the right experience and segmentation is just too broad a tool for this. The Virgin Atlantic Frequent Flyer Programme has 29 segments that they need to personalise. I doubt those are mutually exclusive and with personalization, you'll need to open up that segmentation box again. In order to do justice to the personalied segments, marketing departments must find the necessary skills sets to take re-targeting forward and market to that individual. For this, the CRM is once again going to become a key consideration.

Well, this sums up the rest of the morning session but fear not, I’ll follow up with one more post to give you takeaways from the afternoon session soon!

Author: Cleve Gibbon
Published: 20 June 2011
conferencecustomer insightcustomer experiencepersonalisationmarketing technology

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