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Volume 24 No. 156
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Brand Managers Adapt To Changing Modes Of Consumer Engagement

Deftly negotiating the rapidly changing world of social media and staying up-to-date with new technology and trends is crucial to the success, or failure, of marketing campaigns. And integrating brands, rightsholders, tech and media is the endgame. This was the consensus that emerged from yesterday's panel discussion titled "Redefining Consumer Engagement: The Role of Social Media and Emerging Marketing Platforms" at the IMG World Congress of Sports hosted by SBJ/SBD in Dana Point, Calif. “We think the evolution will happen over the next two or three years as really everybody in this room works together,” said Bill Webster, VP/Brand Management at Sun Life Financial, U.S. “We’ll sort out that new experience, where you are not just watching an awesome sporting event on TV in a very rich way, but we bring the engagement and passion of sports with all your friends, your alums, or maybe just people who are passionate about the same teams you are for the same reasons.” There is some concern for marketers, though, as the Federal Trade Commission begins to more closely regulate some aspects of social media. “It’s a very interesting space right now, you have to be a little careful,” said Skechers Fitness Group President & CMO Leonard Armato. “The whole idea of social curation is exciting. The way that this is evolving is sort of a new frontier. ... A lot of brands are trying to influence the influencers with either money or products. If you give influencers something of value, they have to disclose they are getting something of value from you if they give you a positive review.”

BUDGET GAP: On average, 25-30% of media time in the U.S. is spent on the Internet, while 10% of media budgets are spent on the Internet. Armato sees that equation changing as marketers address the social media environment. “It’s happening every single day,” Armato said. “In fact, last week the CMO of P&G said they are shifting massive amounts into digital. They think it’s more efficient and they also believe it can be more effective at times.” “I think it will take a while to catch up,” said Silver Chalice President John Burris. “There’s no question … that the movement is happening online, but it will take some time. Part is that it’s not as easy to spend big amounts of dollars online.” In addition, the fluid nature of the technology makes some marketers skittish about the new social world. “It’s our job to sort that out, though, and help folks figure out where they should be spending their money,” Burris said.

On what drives consumption, Armato: “We kind of stumbled on the fact that consumers believe each other more than they do advertisers. So testimonials can be very, very effective.”

On social media as an instrument of change, Armato: “The new-school method is like KONY. I think it’s had something like 125 millions views (in the last 10 days), but it’s not just the views, it’s a call to action for all kinds of things you want consumers to do. So social really gets you to not only like something, enjoy something, engage something, but it also gets you to do something. It’s kind of genius whether you like it or you don’t like it.”

On the staying power of early adopters, Burris: “What will happen in a lot of these spaces is that there will be an over-investment, people will want to share 50 Duke videos in a day, and then they’ll find a balance and they’ll back off. Same thing with Twitter, a little bit. I find that early adopters of Twitter just go nuts for a couple of days and then they start to back off and decide who do they want to follow and what do they want to do.”