Paul M. Rand is a highly regarded executive, author, and featured speaker at The Bazaarvoice Summit 2014. I had the chance to speak with Paul about the changing nature of digital advertising and the impact it is having on the consumer-retail landscape. We can’t wait to hear him discuss these ideas and other trends at #bsocial14!

How do Zocalo Group and Ketchum Digital approach the changing landscape of digital advertising?

Rand: Given how rapidly the digital advertising landscape changes, we approach it in a real time, holistic manner. We use our in house experts who are plugged into the digital advertising startup scene, industry blogs and workgroups, our partner contacts, social media listening to see what industry experts are talking about and promoting, as well as offline conversations with other folks “in the know.” Both through automated dashboards and alerts and manual aggregation, our team is able to stay on top of the “who’s who” in the space and know, understand, and recommend strategies and executions as they emerge, which has been a differentiator and benefit to all of our clients.

Why should social and word-of-mouth matter to advertisers?

For years, advertisers had focused on the one-way communication to consumers without fear of feedback, complaint, or retribution.  Today, if brands make false or misleading claims, treat consumers poorly, or have products that don’t work, there’s an almost immediate backlash.  What’s interesting is that, after decades of enjoying a one-way relationship with the consumer public, today’s advertisers are being forced to return to their humble roots as one-on-one communicators. The simple truth remains: 92% of all consumers report that a recommendation from someone they trust is the leading influence in their purchase behavior.

How do you see the relationship between consumers and brands changing in the next 5 years?

In the very recent past, companies could control the flow of communications and interactions with their customers.  Those days are long gone.  Consumers have far more influence on the conversation about brands than the brands do themselves; interestingly, 70 percent of brand content is now created by consumers.  In fact, according to a 2012 study by Searchmetrics, seven of the top eight factors driving on-line search results today is social media content.  While nearly every business and organization has adopted some foundational social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, maybe even Pinterest, Google+, or YouTube), even the most sophisticated brands know that even more is being demanded.  Today’s brands need a simple, sustainable and scalable business approach that brings everything together. And not just marketing and communications. Social media and recommendations are reshaping all aspects of business, including human resources, innovation and R&D, and, of course, customer service.

The Summit brings together bring together the world’s foremost brand marketers, social strategists, media planners, and social business thinkers like Paul M. Rand to discuss the future of social marketing. To learn more about Summit 2014 click here.

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