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The Real-Time Marketing Drumbeat Gets Louder, as Agencies, Brands Sign On

Agencies, brands must retool their approach for real-time age

To be successful in real-time marketing, marketers and their agencies need to rethink the creative process, according to a new eMarketer report, “Real-Time Marketing: Speeding Up the Creative Process.”

Marketers know that they must speed up the ways they produce content and advertising to capture consumer attention in today’s fragmented media and device landscape. Companies are using what they learn from rapid-response marketing in social media to create efficiencies in their broader marketing organization and to find ways to deploy real-time strategies not only in digital media but in traditional media as well.

Now that images are a primary tool of social media marketing, creative execution—long the domain of ad agencies—is becoming much more important. Reacting and responding in real time is exponentially harder when the demands are far more substantial than a snappy tweet, a pithy remark on Facebook or a simple response to a customer complaint.

In a February 2012 survey by GolinHarris, consumers expressed more positive feelings about brands after they were exposed to real-time marketing than before the exposure. Nearly half said they would feel more positive, while 46% would be more interested in the brand. Likelihood to recommend, to consider making a purchase, and to try or buy all were also significantly higher after exposure to real-time marketing.

As Guy Slattery, executive vice president of marketing at A&E Network, said: “Marketers are realizing that the big moments that happen on social are very fleeting and quick. If you can capitalize on those and be a part of them, that’s really the next level.”

To meet these new demands requires marketers and their agencies to take their partnerships to new levels of flexibility, trust and fearlessness.

“We can now do things far more swiftly and efficiently than we could before,” said Grant Hunter, regional creative director for Asia-Pacific at iris worldwide. “From a creative standpoint we have an arsenal of digital tools that allow us to stay up all night to code and design a microsite or generate amazing video content in a 24- to 48-hour window, or within minutes generate a Photoshop comp and then post it on Facebook.”

Even so, the vast majority of advertising creative is generated the same way it has been for decades: first a strict creative brief, followed by several rounds of presentations and approvals before the piece finally sees the light of day. Not only is this true in traditional media, but also online and even in social media, where the posting strategy of many brands is dictated by a content calendar.

The creative model “needs to evolve to catch up with the new tools,” said Kevin Crociata, marketing director for North American Haircare at Procter & Gamble. “I honestly think a Facebook post could be equivalent to a great print ad of the past.”

How can marketers best embrace real-time creative? Mondelez’s Bonin Bough, vice president of global media and consumer engagement, sums up the mindset: “It’s not necessarily about developing creative in real time. It’s about having a creative approach that allows you to operate in real time.”


The full report, “Real-Time Marketing: Speeding Up the Creative Process,” also answers these key questions:

  • How is the push toward real-time marketing affecting the creative process?
  • What models are marketers and agencies using to develop successful real-time creative for social media?
  • How are marketers using what they learn from real-time social media efforts to streamline other forms of marketing?

This report is available to eMarketer corporate subscription clients only. eMarketer clients, log in and view the report now.


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