Forrester Research misleads CMOs by confusing advertising with marketing in new research report

I write about strategies to turn fans into customers and customers into fans. I also share ways to use real-time strategies to spread ideas, influence minds, and build business.

New Rules of Marketing and PR  |  Marketing  |  Facebook  |  Online Media Room  |  Research and Analysis  |  YouTube  |  Advertising

UPDATE November 5, 2007

This afternoon I had a conversation with Shar Van Boskirk, the author of the Forrester US interactive marketing forecast report that I talk about below and Tracy Sullivan, Senior Public Relations Specialist at Forrester Research. They also sent me a copy of the report.

I want to thank them for reaching out to me. Clearly Forrester is monitoring blogs and engaging bloggers. Good for them. Very few companies that I talk about in this blog contact me.

Van Boskirk provided some additional information and clarification about the research which was designed as a way to do market sizing of social media. As she explained, in many cases (such as YouTube) the only way to measure how much marketing activity is going on is to measure advertising and use that as a proxy for total spend. After all, it’s not like companies have a YouTube budget that could be quantified. Forrester analysts also looked at things like agency fees and spending on technology.

I agree. It is difficult to measure marketing in many social media and advertising spend is a decent proxy for the interest in the area among marketers. However, I still believe marketing and advertising are very different and some aspects of the way the report was described in the news release and landing pages was misleading.

Sullivan said that the press release has been added to the media room pages.



Last week Forrester Research "an independent technology and market research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice to global leaders in business and technology" released a report called US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2007 To 2012, written by Shar VanBoskirk. I have not read the report, but have seen the news release about it as well as the summary of the report on the Forrester site.


Some of the highlights of the report include:
> "Interactive Spend Will Better Align With Consumers' Media Behavior"
> "Interactive Marketing Will Top $61 Billion By 2012"
> "Search Marketing Will Triple In Five Years"
> "Online Video Ads Perpetuate A Virtuous Cycle Of Growth"
> "Social Media Will Drive Emerging Channels To $10.6 Billion By 2012"

While this data is certainly interesting, I am dismayed that the statistics refer to interactive advertising spending. In my opinion, it is misleading for Forrester to use MARKETING when they really mean ADVERTISING.

As readers of this blog and The New Rules of Marketing & PR will recall:

OLD RULES -- buy your way in with advertising and beg your way in with the media
NEW RULES -- publish your way in on the Web for free

As far as I can tell, this report is about the old rules of marketing (buying your way in) but just applied to the web. As I've said many times, marketers have long-term ingrained habits. Many of us assume that we must spend money to play the game. We equate marketing with advertising (as Forrester has done).

However, as many successful marketers know, on the Web, marketing is not the same as advertising. Marketing is all about creating great content. For free. To be successful, you must unlearn what you have learned.

It's not about advertising on YouTube, it is about making a YouTube video. It's not about advertising on social media sites like Facebook, it is about participating by creating profiles, groups and events on Facebook.

I like Forrester's work. In my last corporate job as VP marketing for a technology company, I was a Forrester client. Some of the companies I work with are Forrester clients. I have found their research valuable.

There is something deeply troubling in VanBoskirk's quote at the end of the press release. "These changes will not only affect the budget structure of marketing organizations, but it will also give interactive marketing professionals a more legitimate seat at the marketing table," VanBoskirk continues. "In fact, with interactive marketing gaining executive visibility as much for its popularity with young consumers as for its measurability and cost effectiveness, we see a class of marketers emerging who will involve themselves with a few high-profile interactive experiments in order to catapult themselves into the CMO seat."

In my opinion, advertising people already had their chance in the CMO seat and they've screwed it up. We've already got CMOs who understand the 30-second TV spot and who are skilled at interruption techniques. That's not marketing. That's not what consumers want. That's why the average tenure as CMO is less than two years according to Spencer Stuart.

Businesses certainly don't need trade CMOs who know TV ads with those who know how to run banner ads on YouTube and Facebook.

Instead, we need CMOs who know how to resonate with potential customers. We need CMOs who are skilled at creating products and services that people want to buy. Instead of dreaming up "creative" ads to interrupt people and shout "buy my product," we need CMOs who are Tuned In to their marketplace. We need CMOs who connect with buyers by publishing great content on the Web.

Here's another interesting thing. When I was writing this blog post on October 15 (four days after the Forrester report had come out), I had wanted to point to the press release on the Forrester site to drive any traffic from this blog to them directly. But the Forrester press release is not on the Forrester site, so I am pointing to it on Yahoo.

I entered the phrase US Interactive Marketing Spending To Reach $61 Billion (the headline of the press release) into Google and (at least the time that I looked) none of the top 50 hits pointed to the Forrester site.

While I completely advocate using the news release wires to send releases, they should also be published on a company's online media room. Maybe it was just an oversight on Forrester’s part.

The new rules of marketing and PR is about publishing interesting content that people want to consume and bringing them back to your own site where they can learn more.