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2014: The Year of Transition for Marketers

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Why this is the year—and era—of change in the field of marketing.

Every aspect of marketing needs to be rethought. That's the strong—perhaps jarring—sentiment from James Gross, cofounder of marketing technology company Percolate. Gross says marketers are in a time of major transition; and to rise to and then exceed customer expectations and company demands, modern marketers must innovate, reshape, and transform their approach to strategies and execution.

I recently chatted with Gross about how marketers can not only survive, but thrive in a neo-age of ubiquitous technology, ongoing interaction, and deep personalization. Gross challenges marketers to embrace an industry-wide evolution—from the content that marketers create and the audiences they target to the various channels they use and methods they deploy. In this candid interview, Gross explains how an epoch of impactful campaigns is emerging right before our eyes.

Q: Why do you consider 2014 a year of transition for marketers?James Gross of Percolate explains why this is the year of transition for marketers.
James Gross: Well, at some point in 2014 we're actually going to [reach] more than 3 billion Internet users [or roughly 40% of the world's population]. That's an amazing feat. There's no other technology or service that enables [that many users] other than the Internet. And what's interesting is that the network only gets stronger with the more people that [use] it.

Why is this so important for marketers? Well, [analysts] predict that from 2014 to 2019 Internet users will reach about 6 billion people—basically the amount of people will double over the next five years. So that [growth] will enable and allow marketers to do things that they've never thought of before with vast sharing and culling of stories, info, and content.

Q: So, how should marketers rethink channels?
Gross: Well, channels are a really interesting concept.  We're moving [away] from a world of what used to be very finite channels—you know: network television, radio, billboards. The channel model is moving from what was a limited amount of channels to a world of infinite channels. So, essentially, strategy has to change from only reaching mass audiences at very specific times to reaching anyone in the world at anytime. [Marketers'] channel strategy needs to be totally be rethought [to reflect the change] in this new world.

Q: What about changes in content?
Gross: Marketers are going to have to move from just thinking about stock content. And what I mean by that is content that's built to have a very long shelf life; [for example], a commercial is meant to be in market for about nine months. They're going to have to move from that content to what we call flow content. These are quick hits of content—smaller, bite-size pieces of content that are often relevant in the moment but not relevant outside of the moment. So, the brand has to [make a] move to create more of this flow content in order to be relevant all the time. Of course it's not just about flow content. [Brand marketers] need move from just stock to [a combination of] stock and flow content.

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