Rethinking the Connected Marketing Future – Part One

Our Social Times is teaming up with DMC to launch a discussion about “Connected Marketing”. We’re inviting our readers to help us to evaluate some marketing predictions and...

Our Social Times is teaming up with DMC to launch a discussion about “Connected Marketing”. We’re inviting our readers to help us to evaluate some marketing predictions and re-shape them. Please read on…


In 2005, a group of alternative marketing practitioners, academics and related luminaries collaborated on the book Connected marketing: the viral, buzz and word of mouth revolution. If you haven’t read it, it’s worth picking up, even now.

This was before Murdoch bought Myspace, Accel partners invested in Facebook, or Twitter even existed – and the book concluded with ‘10 predictions for the future of connected marketing’ that included insight from the book’s contributors as well as analysis of the wider exchange that had been taking place in a private industry discussion forum since 2002.

The book’s co-editor, Justin Kirby, is now revisiting these predictions for a new ebook he’s creating with his colleague Greta MacFarlane at DMC. They asked me for my input, and I decided that it would be interesting to open this up by asking our blog readers to share their views and experiences too.

To help us to visualize the question, Idil Cakim (VP of Media Analytics Consulting at Nielsen and author of Implementing Word of Mouth Marketing), who was one of the original contributors, has proposed an evaluation framework that shows the connected marketing predictions resting on three pillars: Content Creation, Distribution and Engagement Management, with Measurement as their foundation:

3 pillars of connected marketing

We’re now running a series of posts that asks you the following questions about the original connected marketing predictions:

  1. Where did they hit the mark?
  2. What was missed?
  3. What’s next?

Starting with the Content Creation pillar, we’ve included the first two of the 10 predictions below, together with some new opinions from thought leaders and industry professionals.

What are your own views and experiences of these two predictions? Do you have any case studies, diagrams, etc. that you would like to share? Let us know by leaving a comment below by this Saturday, 15th June. We’ll then compile a round-up of responses and add as many as possible to this post by Tuesday 18th June. (NB any feedback that can’t be included in this blog will still help shape the discussion and final ebook output.)

Thanks! Please join us again next week when we’ll explore the next pillar and its predictions in Part Two.


2005 prediction #1:

Connected marketing will become more strategic, with the focus shifting from promotion (creating remarkable campaigns) to innovation (creating remarkable products).

 2013 update:

“Communication professionals get the importance of telling a story, but they have little control over their clients’ products. That being said, the surge of online review sites confirms – and the impact of online reviews on purchases confirm – that remarkable products are essential to generate WOM.”

Idil Cakim, VP, Media Analytics Consulting, Nielsen

“We’ve seen (and been involved in) many influencer-led, co-creation activities. More often than not, the focus remains on the messaging rather than the product, but that will change. One huge driver will be 3D printing. If ‘producers’ think through the impact of production of things shifting to the edge (just as production of media has) they may just spot which way the wind is blowing. The role of the organisation is less to make things and more to act as a platform to make things with others.”

– David Cushman, Strategy Partner at The Social Partners

2005 prediction #2:

Online branded entertainment (advertainment, advergaming, alternate reality games) will be used more as key brand touch-points for entertainment brands.

2013 update:

“In the tech-enabled connected world, brands are now placing content at the heart of their marketing strategies. Those using branded content to reach their existing and potential customers are reaping the rewards through increased interaction and engagement, which is ultimately leading to brand loyalty and sales growth. Brands need to influence consumers and the best way to achieve this is through branded content.”

– Andrew Canter, CEO, Branded Content Marketing Association

“Consumers, particularly younger audiences, are increasingly comfortable having content presented by brands like Red Bull, Nike and Coke. Whether that be short-form video, alternative reality games or whatever…, audiences don’t care what the format is. The challenge is delivering authentic, credible entertainment in a manner where the brand has a natural role to play.”

– Chris Sice, Managing Director at Blended Republic

The Bigger Picture

To help get your thinking cap on and frame a wider discussion about the future of connected marketing, here are some more general thoughts from industry leaders about the past decade and where things are going now:

“We were on the cusp of something big back in 2005, calling it “connected marketing”. How quickly the world changed – and also how little of it did. We have many different sites, technologies and business models today, but the fundamentals of marketing have remained the same – as have the challenges. We still value word-of-mouth referrals, constantly seek out how to improve the identification and deepening of relationships with influencers. And we still have a hard time measuring it all!”

– Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group and author of Groundswell and Open Leadership

“Most predictions came true, as social media, connected marketing and so on did explode, and did change the relationship between brand and consumer in many ways. What didn’t change (unfortunately) is the industry’s ongoing fascination with trying to use connected marketing to ‘target’ and ‘sell’ and ‘ambush’ consumers, while marketing at large has to move to ‘SERVICE’ big time. In fact, that’s what the online world is all about, and that’s what connected, informed consumers appreciate. So in that sense, many brands still think very traditionally!”

– Reinier Evers, Founder of and Springwise New Business Ideas

“I think what we missed all those years ago was the sheer speed and rapidity of how the old-fashioned rules of marketing engagement would change. And I think the next 10 years will accelerate at a similar lightning pace. Ironically, as Connected Marketing becomes the norm, we might see the trend of Disconnected Marketing becoming more prevalent, where consumers get so savvy, aware and cute, that the only way to interact is via more and more discontinuous thinking and disruptive techniques.”

– Graham Goodkind, Group CEO and Founder, Frank PR

“The biggest issue today for most brands and institutions is trust. Those of us who have lived and learned through the transformation of the past decade or so should now turn our understanding of social media, word of mouth and Open Business to restoring and extending trust between customers and the brands and organisations that matter to them.

Connected-ness is part of that – but just one part. The ambition should be to make partners of your customers – that transforms the way you connect, why you connect and to whose ends you connect.”

– David Cushman, Strategy Partner at The Social Partners and author of The 10 Principles of Open Business (out early 2014)


Please add your suggestions and feedback below. Thank you for contributing.

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  1. Justin Kirby Reply

    I’ve been getting some responses directly, so will add them here, including this one from Andrea Learned, Women’s market expert and ‘Don’t Think Pink: What Really Makes Women Buy’ author:

    Overall, connected marketing has switched the perspective of brands, in that the power really has gone “to the people.” Consumers can find information faster, connect with one another, share causes, call out brands on bad behavior and so on. The great thing is that the smart companies have come to embrace it. By connecting so much that the power is the people, responsible businesses rise to the top more quickly and more noticeably.

    1. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

      Excellent point from @DaveChaffey. Splitting content and social doesn’t make much sense. To add my thoughts to the first prediction.. while there has been a shift from social media promotion towards innovative product creation – I think the biggest shift is the gradual realisation that the ultimate goal of connected marketing should be to create sustainable relationships with customers. This moves us away from traditional marketing into customer service and sCRM. In other words, much closer to the customer.

  2. Justin Kirby Reply

    Just had this in from the team at BSUR:

    Connected marketing becomes more strategic by linking promotion and innovation. It’s not about designing a greater product or creating a greater campaign. Connected marketing is about synchronizing the back and front ends of an organization: the inner core of the production with outer communication appearances.

    A ”design your own bottle, shoe or baby stroller” online initiative doesn’t make a greater product. It’s still the product, face-lifted. Communicating the fact that you can design your own won’t make it a remarkable campaign, anymore. Added value comes from communicating the benefits of social technologies applied to production processes.

    The risk today is to focus too much on communication. Developing smarter ways of communicating does not help if you have nothing worth communicating. On the other hand, you may have the best product but if no one knows about it… that doesn’t help neither. The sweet spot lies in harmonizing what you do with what you say. Connected marketing matters for the harmony it can fuel to a company.