Rethinking the Marketing Mothership
turbotodd 100000388Y Visits (1948)
While at the Googleplex, I saw the strangest thing when I first arrived. There were about ten people, assumably Google employees, riding a contraption that looked as though it had emerged from an Escher drawing.
They were all pedalling this contraption, but the "bike" (for lack of a better term) was going in the same direction despite ten people pedalling the thing.
I'm not sure if that was a metaphor for the state of Google's business at the moment or not. But I do think it was a metaphor presented by the opportunity for rethinking the structure of the marketing mothership.
They're still hiring like crazy at Google, and yes, the stories about the free food are all true (and no, I didn't drop off my resume). And I do hear tell that the left hand of Google not only doesn't always know what the right hand is doing, they oftentimes haven't even shaken hands yet and met.
But that's always a challenge for a fast-growing organization. And anyhow, it's Google's stock price that's reaching into the stratosphere, so they can probably get away with some growth pains and disorganization.
However, the key takeaway from my time on the ground at the Google campus yesterday and the "Searchonomics" conference today here in Santa Clara is that there is plenty of need for dramatic change in traditional marketing organizations everywhere if they're to take full advantage of the opportunity presented by search and the emerging digital media.
The disruption caused by Google in the advertising and marketing industry isn't just about the efficiencies realized from search. It's also about the inefficiencies presented by 50+ years of organizing around the mass media.
Most mass media-oriented marketing organizations organized themselves around the notion that the more eyeballs the better. The more money you spent, the more eyeballs you could get, although the negotiation was, of course, always about trying to get more eyeballs for less money.
The search marketing industry has organized around a completely different principle. With search, the opportunity is more about quality than quantity. Sure, quantity is still important, but with search and the digital media, it's the quality of the visitor that matters most.
Admittedly, some companies are using search to buy more eyeballs, but the efficiency of search also lies in its ability to take that visitor to the next step, and to acknowledge that that next step could be weeks from now (the offline impact of online investigations) instead of in an immediate transaction. Both are important.
Most important, however, is that search is akin to the inverse of mass media. Instead of hoping to catch someone's attention serendipitously, you instead put yourself at the intersection of interest the moment that the consumer decides, not the marketer.
But most of us are still organized to try and serendipitously capture the consumer's attention. Inherent in that system is waste, both in dollars and in organization.
Those companies that start to instead restructure and reorganize the marketing mothership around the intersection of interest will likely find themselves getting more and smarter customers for much less money, and in the process better satisfy the inherent demand that already exists in the market.
Those that don't will start to go the way of the eight track tape.
Currently, it is many of those gatekeeper organizations that are preventing the digital efficiencies from reaching their maximum effect, which means they are preventing those organizations from also reaching their maximum bottom line efficiencies.
I suspect that increasingly, it will be shareholders that will be driving the demand for those efficiencies in marketing.
But only when you can get those 10 people on that funky Google bike -- the traditional marketing mothership -- to all pedal in the same direction, can the opportunities that search and digital marketing provide large organizations be fully realized.