Oracle's Larry Ellison air guitars his way into marketing but do we get it?

There are many things I like about Oracle:

1. The Larry Ellison / Russell Coutts bromance is one of them. 

I once heard Larry describe Russell as the only person he takes orders from and as the only New Zealander in the world today who supported Russell’s move to Team Oracle for the America's Cup  I was pleased to see him at the Oracle's Openworld event today. Haters to the left. 

2. The hilarious rock music driving a Hummer up a mountain in a Rocky action movie vibe for their keynotes

Dun dun dunnnnn — we have a database—YEAHHHH —air guitarrrrrr. 

3. Oracle have a massive client list. 

Laugh all you want but when I got a marketing email the other day from Twitter, it was sent from Eloqua. Twitter Cards puts customer details into Eloqua because lots of big organisations use it. 

Ever applied for a job at a bank or something? You’ve probably filled out an online form in Taleo

Pepsi Frito-lay is doing FMCG promotions on Oracle Demantra? What the hell is a Demantra? You can watch a video and I’m interested in this sort of thing and i can’t be bothered so I can’t really imagine that any of the regular, less geeky and interested in database apps marketers that I’ve worked with would but that's what they use if you care. 

I went to an Oracle  event in Sydney and after being asked by several salespeople whether or not I was in the Oracle events team or the hotel events team or ‘waiting for my husband’, I was invited in to a technical presentation where speakers wizzed through slides of logos for the many builds and acquisitions that Oracle had made, many in the marketing and social space.  

The speaker was the by-product of such an acquisition and he did something to do with retail and databases and e-commerce and then he talked about cloud development gap and how they needed people to build lots of stuff to run on the EXA META GRRR 4000 CLOUDERATION SUPERCLUSTER BLADE platform or something. In the scheme of end-user understanding of how this sort of thing works I would usually rank myself about a 7 and I had no idea what he was talking about. So I figured the preso must be targeted for developers but then most of the people in the room where from client-side big IT departments I don't know?

I couldn’t help but think there must be so many opportunities for developers to build really great products and businesses if someone could just, you know, actually explain the tech behind the Oracle products in a simple way. It’s tricky because a lot great developers are spending their time building Instagram copies and time tracking software when they could be building some awesome plugin for the Oracle Demantra if people like me who actually pay attention could figure out what it was and tell everyone else about the awesome tech at work on —umm Oracle Demantra?

It might not sound as exciting as Snapchat but in terms of impact, building something for a massive open government healthcare project or retail bank or media network would really change things and that’s what we need. IT people are buying marketing and media software because they are already running Oracle gear which may or may not be a bad thing. I don’t know because it’s so confusing to figure out if the stuff is any good or not and nobody would give me a demo account or any way of playing with it to make an assessment because I couldn’t possibly know how to do my job better than an Oracle salesperson who thought I must be part of the events team because why else would I be there?

When you get past all the air guitar-ing and motion sickness from the spinning logos and M7 chipset FUSION ERP HCM you can look around the room and see that there are many, many companies who use this stuff and a handful of nerds who get what their little piece of the puzzle means but probably not how it works across different functions, let alone to their customers. It’s an industry-wide thing and I’m sure Oracle are aware of it but I fear many marketers are going to get stuck with nasty, unusable software that their IT person has gone ahead and purchased because it talks to the Oracle thing and all their other things are Oracle. I’m sure Larry knows this and that’s why he can afford to pay Russell lots of money and buy a nice island in Hawaii with pineapples on it and good for him. What would be really great is if product marketers or evangelists or whoever does the customer stuff would sit and look at successful consumer products like Twitter and Evernote and Mailchimp and communicate it like that so that more people can get it and run with it and make enterprise technology not so complicated and unattainable for regular folk because if you can understand Mailchimp you should be able to understand Eloqua and marketing teams have large, successful teams of loyalty database marketers who get databases so they should be able to get Demantra, whatever that is. 

Understanding the new influencers: AUT guest lecture

What a lovely time I had on Wednesday at the new Sir Paul Reeves buildings at AUT campus. 

sorry Simon Devitt I pinched another one of your photos

I was invited to do a guest lecture on social influence for the third year IMC (integrated marketing communications) course which was great because I got to see all the nice new things and meet some real life student people.

real life students

I’ve put the slides up on slideshare but I decided to go for the all photos thing so you might need to click into the speaker notes to make sense of it. 

Main things are:

1. Broadcast communications can move the herd

2. Internet created more publishers and rise of democratised communications. New influencer emerge on platforms like Youtube, Vine, Instagram

3. Customers are more empowered and can curate, comment and share content. Look for people they trust and who are like them. 

4. Big seed marketing e.g. Buzzfeed. Create content that appeals to people and they distribute and share, decide what’s popular

5. Customers are employees and vice versa. Whole person approach- harness the power of the BWN Bored at Work Network to distribute and share your messages e.g. Zappos Big brands and advertisers struggle to personalise and need to partner with influencers.

Then I worked my 'Lecture Hand' so everyone could see there was some serious business going on right there

live action shot of lecture hand

Thanks for having me and I hope everyone learned something. One of the students told me he was going to go home and set up a YouTube channel and start vlogging so I'm glad my 'stay in school but please make sure you can make things' plea was received by someone. 

Structuring enterprise social content teams

Choirs of angels. Buzzfeed have come up with a simple, ‘three content bucket’ structure for differentiating between types of social content: Buzz, Buzzfeed News, and Buzzfeed Life. 

When you talk about ‘social media’ in a company remember that everyone usually defaults to thinking about apps and short snacky type content like Facebook updates and tweets.  Buzzfeed call this Buzz or BuzzTeam for ‘socially-oriented, experimental content’. The thing about this type of content is that everyone enjoys working on it and massively overestimates both how good they are at it and the value it brings to the organisation. It’s important to have it in the mix for attraction and content distribution, but is also the most difficult to measure and can result in a lot of junk that doesn’t really do a lot. 

For most organisations, the Buzzfeed News part will form the earned (media relations, PR) arm of your content strategy. Things like live event or conference coverage, industry news, business results, new appointments, store openings and product announcements. Your blog or blog network should be the home base for this type of content on a company-owned online space.

Your Buzz social team will work with the news team to make the content more digestible and interesting to audiences through engaging headlines, attractive photos and updates through various social media channels like LinkedIn, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Skills like writing, video production, editorial and researching skills, as well as media relations and strategy are needed in the News area. 

Buzzfeed Life is the really new area where organisations need to pay more attention and resource up for client-side, branded media production. Buzzfeed say that their Life team has mainly grown out of success with Pinterest for ‘lifestyle content like parenting tips, recipes, or how-to guide’. You can adapt this to your organisation by thinking about how to better equip and help customers with case studies, maps, how-to videos, whitepapers, playbooks, recipes, budget advice, online calculators, restaurant reviews and inspiring photos.  People developing this type of content will be working more like a traditional ad agency. Depending on the size and structure of the organisation, you might also be making paid media decisions in here about placing Google ads, buying Twitter Cards, making and placing Facebook ads and YouTube sponsored content. 

The three all work together.  So if you are doing a new store opening you might have the Buzz team giving away branded vouchers and T-shirts that the Life team produced. The News team publish blog and vlog posts about some brand ambassadors who might be at the store getting photos with customers.  Paid ads produced by the Life team run on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to promote the new store opening specials.  I know you're thinking 'that's cool for them but we are a boring government agency' but if you work backwards from how a customer or stakeholder might come across and consume your content you'll find it does make sense and the real challenge is getting teams of people who have flexible skills to work across different formats such as blogs, videos and social channels. Buzzfeed are also known for testing and measuring everything so there is also an analytics component to factor in. Most is done at an individual, content producer level and the teams are benchmarked with dashboards to deliver the most effective and shareable formats. 

Start small. Even getting teams that haven't worked together to agree on one hashtag can be a challenge at the start but take the tiny triumphs and try to keep the focus on News at the start as everyone will want to talk about and work on Buzz. Also, try and be realistic with Life content. You probably won't be able to produce a $5 million Samsung TVC in three hours on a $300 Go Pro. Learn to develop formats that you can make with your existing tools and that are sustainable. One simple how-to video per week is a lot more useful than one masterpiece that takes 12 weeks and soaks up hours and hours of time with meetings and sign-off because everyone wants to play movie director. LOL OMG CUTE.  Buzzfeed are awesome at this stuff and it works so learn from them and your content teams will probably enjoy working on projects a lot more too. 

Facebook is just getting started and marketers need to pay attention

I heard a TV journalist on the weekend casually start a question: ‘with social media sites like Facebook declining…” 

Now I’m not sure what measures she was using to get to that (if any) but nothing I’m seeing suggests that Facebook is in decline. From a business point of view, Facebook is looking very healthy. 

First Quarter 2014 Operational Highlights

  • Daily active users (DAUs) were 802 million on average for March 2014, an increase of 21% year-over-year.
  • Mobile DAUs were 609 million on average for March 2014, an increase of 43% year-over-year.
  • Monthly active users (MAUs) were 1.28 billion as of March 31, 2014, an increase of 15% year-over-year.
  • Mobile MAUs were 1.01 billion as of March 31, 2014, an increase of 34% year-over-year. 

First Quarter 2014 Financial Highlights

Revenue - Revenue for the first quarter of 2014 totaled $2.50 billion, an increase of 72%, compared with $1.46 billion in the first quarter of 2013. 

  • Revenue from advertising was $2.27 billion, an 82% increase from the same quarter last year.
  • Mobile advertising revenue represented approximately 59% of advertising revenue for the first quarter of 2014, up from approximately 30% of advertising revenue in the first quarter of 2013.
  • Payments and other fees revenue was $237 million for the first quarter of 2014.

Right so they have lots of people but are they making money off them? Well, yes they’re starting to. You just have to look at Mary Meeker’s State of the Internet analysis to see that. 

The figure that Mark Zuckerberg gets most excited about is the highly coveted 'daily visits' which sits around 60%. That’s really high and hasn’t seen the declines that even Facebook predicted once the platform reached a critical mass of users. By getting in to your phone and your daily habits, Facebook has a front-door to the social web that nobody else does. 

Recent acquisitions WhatsApp and Instagram are both in strong growth phases and are providing the younger audiences that Facebook desktop ran the risk of missing as pure mobile products develop. 

Installs of their own app give Facebook the most reach of any mobile product in the US.  Mobile app install ads have been a real winner for Facebook too with mobile app developers using Facebook as way to target and deliver their product in the Google Play or Apple App stores. 

So what’s this talk of declining?

Brands are getting less organic engagement on their brand pages. So you’ll see posts like this that make you think Facebook isn’t worth your brand’s effort. Quality content working together with paid ads is probably the direction you should be looking (for both Facebook and Google content). 

It’s the pay to play model that we’ve talked about before: if you want to target high quality audiences with your content, then you have to pay the same way that you pay for TV ads or billboard locations or the front page of the newspaper. 

Newsfeed ads have been very successful for the company and they are now moving away from those crappy little right hand side ads (which Zuckerberg describes as ‘legacy ads’) to a new design that look a lot more like a standard IAB ad unit, medium rectangle type thing. 

The new battleground is of course, mobile and Facebook is loving on its developers and trying to make things easier for them to develop for their platform by offering services like Parse that make the mobile development environment more simple and easier to monetise. App developers make money, consumers get better products and experiences and ultimately, Facebook makes money and continues to grow. That’s the plan and Austin Carr has written and superb article about it over here you must, must, must read -that’s three musts. 

The ad products are changing all the time and it’s really important that you dig a bit deeper and keep open minded about what you can achieve on different platforms. A campaign that didn’t work 12 months ago might work now. Instagram might be ripe for another look. You might need to take a look at this ‘over indexing of print’ figure and think ‘hmmm, maybe we are over indexed for print’.  

Because if the only  real reason is that 1. you have personal feelpinions and you just don't like Facebook 2. it's scary and you can't keep up and understand these new products, well then it's time to look at some quality data and learn for yourself and make some big girl decisions instead of agreeing with people on the television who might not know what they're talking about.