August 16, 2016

Joining The Dots On… Real-Time Marketing

Recently we’ve spent a lot of time considering real-time marketing. Since the launch of Pokémon Go we’re seeing the start of a real-time revolution as brands try to work out how to take advantage of this new medium.  But here’s the rub – most of the technology fuelling this interest has actually been around for a while, it’s just someone paired it with the perfect user experience and narrative. Our latest #JoinTheDots breakfast briefing looked at this resurgence of real-time, and how – in a world in constant flux – marketers can learn to be nimble enough to take advantage by moving with the changing landscape rather than being derailed by it.

We’ve summarised our six key actionable insights below on how brands can be both relevant and timely to their audience while still being true to their values, and how to engage both hearts and minds through taking a more human approach. If you’re interested in getting an in-depth briefing for you or your team, please email Katreena Dare on

We’re off to our local Pokémon Gym but here’s what you need to know…

1. Fear of failure is a failure too

In a new and evolving discipline, where the first-movers and thought-leaders reap the rewards and there are few tried and tested methods, experimentation is key. Sometimes this works. Engagement rates soar, sales are ascendant and the awards shelf starts to strain. But, unfortunately, that’s not always the case. And that’s ok. In fact, acknowledging that not everything will soar – and that sometimes things might sink – allows brands to embrace experimentation, learn from it and build stronger campaigns.

2. Take it through the line

Increasingly for consumers, a brand’s social media presence is the brand itself. Paddy Power, Taco Bell and Oreo are leading the charge here and all have social accounts which outshine their above the line campaigns in consumer’s eyes. As such, it no longer makes sense for an ad agency to dictate the strategy and creative and then expect everyone else to fall in line. Instead, its far better to unite the social, creative and paid media teams under a mandate of doing interesting work that resonates across a variety of channels.

Whether that involves working out how the advertising can help to amplify a truly social idea, or provide a new way into an experience or location via mobile. It’s an opportunity to use the planning nous you have across disciplines to work out just how smart and responsive you can be – to a situation, a news event or even just a trending hashtag or meme.

3. Get the right team in place

The beating heart of any good real-time marketing campaign is a team who are dedicated enough to fuel an ‘always-on’ presence, which means native speakers in social media who are curious and passionate about new, technological innovations, and are able to create, rich, engaging content that’s consistently on brand.

4. Content is still king

Everyone working within the communications industry knows that great content is shareable content. That doesn’t change because it’s happening in real-time and you’re using technology that you’ve never touched before.

In fact, many of the technologies used in real-time marketing have been around for a while but have been too niche to make an impact – for example augmented reality. To bring it into the mainstream, something else was needed. Something that captured the hearts and minds of the audience. In other words, Pokémon Go. Proving that content is still king.

5. Agility is key

By its very nature, real-time marketing needs to happen quickly – and this needs a nimble team and agile structures. But, to be truly agile takes a lot of planning. It means creating a framework that allows the team to respond in a way that’s interesting, relevant, on brand and timely. It also often means working together in new ways – loosening or stream-lining a sign-off process or agencies communicating with clients in different, more instant ways, Whatsapp and Slack for example.

6. Know your platforms (and their audiences)

Each platform serves a different audience and has a different role in their lives. Instagram is aspirational, whereas Snapchat is more experimental. It’s important to note that audiences, and their moods, vary on a daily, and even hourly, basis.

Additionally, as marketing moves from episodic to real-time activations, so too must the data that’s used to underpin it – its now essential to monitor audiences in real-time. Being truly fluent in all of these subtleties can determine whether or not your real-time marketing flies or flat-lines.