In a presention this morning at the Asian Marketing Effectivenss Festival, Johnston declared that running a three-month campaign and waiting until it ends to measure its effectiveness is no longer a valid strategy.
Instead of thinking of marketing as archery, where one takes aim at a target and fires a shot toward a bullseye, Johnston offered table tennis as a potentially more useful analogy.
The consumer and the brand are the players, the ball is data ricocheting back and forth, and the table is the digital cloud, the platform where all the action takes place. In this scenario, the consumer and the brand are having a constant interaction with each other, he said. And like the game, "it is very, very fast", particularly here in China.
This picture highlights how the lack of adjustment built into traditional marketing models is inadequate. "Because I guarantee you that when someone hits the ping-pong ball across the table, they don’t want to wait 30 days for it to come back,” he said.
After cautioning that full-on interactivity might not be appropriate for all brands, especially luxury brands that strive to remain aloof, Johnston went on to describe how adaptive techniques can be used in all the four 'Ps' of marketing: Product, price, place and promotion.
In each category, he cited innovative work:
- Starbucks, Nike, Dominos and Coke setting up mechanisms to invite consumers to concoct their own product variations and then using that input in the actual product-development process.
- Porfessional sports teams implementing dynamic pricing of game tickets, with software helping to maximise revenue from a limited-quantity item.
- Tesco's famous virtual store for commuters in Korea and Coke's app for 'sending' a Coke to someone in a distant country.
- Nike allowing users to define their sports of interest and then using imagery from those sports in advertising.
Johnston also described simultaneous use of multiple screens, with TV viewers seeking information online in instant reaction to what they see on the big screen. “When we run a TVC, we can see the immediate jump in search traffic and tweeting activity," he said. "Therefore we can evaluate whether that TV spot is as effective as we want it to be. And if it's not, then we will adapt it.”
Moreover, the technology enabling such adaptation is only getting better, he said, citing Yahoo's purchase of a technology that allows a mobile device to listen to a nearby TV and automatically display related content. He also talked about the convergence of television with internet technology, which will make all the precise targeting of the online-video world available on TV as well.
- Given all these changes, Johnston finished by offering advice to the clients in the room.
- Get ready for even more data. "You guys are way too cool," he said. "We need more geeks in the industry."
- “Don’t hoard data.” You must liberate it, get it out to as many people as possible to interpret, within your own company and partner companies as well.
- Adopt a more fluid process. Set up rules and guidelines, set a "campaign" in motion, and then constantly evolve.
Mindshare has developed an offering around adaptive marketing, called Xaxis, which is rolling out internationally. Johnston said it is akin to moving from a Fiat to a Ferrari, encompassing more than 900 variables that can be used to reach specific audiences with specific messages.