In the past couple of years, we’ve seen a popular trend in marketing evolve, whereby brands seek to create connections with consumers by emulating Oreo’s well-known Dunk in the Dark "real-time" moment from the 2013 Super Bowl.
No one is saying that wasn’t a brilliant move. However, it set a dangerous precedent for brands as to what constitutes real-time marketing.
The idea of attaching your brand to a spectacular news moment that will fuel incredible viral reach and connect with millions has distracted marketers from the full potential of "real" real-time. The potential lies far beyond content, and in how we let this challenge every aspect of our present business model.
Real-time is the opportunity to feel the pulse of our present and future consumer. Why should this be lumped into only one aspect of our marketing strategy?
We are now in a position where we have the ability to process and interpret data in a way that allows us to understand our consumers and their feelings, and, to a certain degree, anticipate their intentions like never before.
We can, and must, understand the context in which our consumers are living, and how that context is developing. We need to understand what our competitors are doing all the time, and how potential partners might be making movements. We need to know where our stocks are running low or high, or where they are bang on target.
Yet brands are still clutching onto old models. From forecasting to path-to-purchase models, there is an intense resistance to allowing real-time to become an authentic business model. Why? Because it’s scary and disruptive.
It brings into question everything most brands have been doing for years, if not decades. It’s certainly easier not to take such a hard line, but there’s a saying that comes to mind when contemplating taking the plunge: "Innovate or die."
What does moving to a real-time business actually mean? It means building the core strategic competencies that enable teams to act and react across all relevant platforms and time zones, with the right content, across paid, earned, and owned. It means applying this not just to marketing, but to all other relevant businesses.
Finance, for example. Why make mandatory quarterly reviews of budgets and monthly controls, when our consumers are changing their behavior hour by hour?
Need for change
We need a complete change in the way we separate the real-time part of the business from the planned part. And we cannot incrementally move into this. There’s a clear need to disrupt our organizations by creating an innovative way to follow and learn from consumers.
Because of historic constraints surrounding the way that TV has been used for advertising, parts of the industry are still focused on talking about the integration of paid, owned, and earned. The development of the digital platforms has made this distinction useless.
The only thing that counts is having the mindset and capability to activate the tools that will put you there at the crucial moment.
Put simply, be there at the right time, or miss out.
Lars Silberbauer is global director of social media and search at Lego. Find him on Twitter at @larssilberbauer.
This op-ed originally appeared on MediaWeek.