Sunday, January 08, 2006

Four Accelerators Behind Growth
of Contextual Marketing

Contextual marketing has its basis in the facts and its heart beats to create relevance between what you sell and what the customer wants. It was harder in the past to do this because creating context is a complex, scientific business that looked just plain too-hard to do.

But things are different today. I cite four of the factors now accelerating its adoption:

Technology -- We can now accumulate and massage massive amounts of information and put this information where it can be used to make better, more precise decisions. These databases are now growing into terabyte size but are easier than ever to use. If the marketing department falls behind its competition in the tech areana, the barn will burn down fast.

Proliferating Touchpoints -- On the one hand the proliferation of touchpoints is a demon. It is incredibly difficult to keep message continuity consistent across all the points your customers will use to touch your business. The media are fragmented and typically disjointed. But the good news is that these touchpoints are increasingly addressable and measurable giving rise to increased potential to target customers whereever they are in their buying cycles.

Analytical Skillsets -- The data is useless if your managers cannot get at it and use it to make the right decisions, to infer the right courses of action. Just five years ago it was rare to find marketing analyists on staff except at the big consumer packaged goods firms. Now this expertise is available to the rest of the world.

A New Mindset
-- Most marketers, as I said earlier, come from a background where qualitative skills reigned supreme. That included me until about 15 years ago when I added a "marketing analyst phenom" to my agency's staff and we immediately began cutting new strategies for our clients that earned them hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The mindset has shifted. The B-schools are pumping out people with the expertise and marketers are beginning to hire them. This will be a huge accelerator pushing contextual marketing forward at an awesome rate.

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