Facing the challenges of digital variety

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Jonathan Rosoff is senior VP-managing director at interactive agency Razorfish. BtoB recently asked him about interactive marketing and about new approaches to social media, including how marketers can best distribute and seed their messages in this environment. BtoB: What is the biggest challenge facing interactive marketers today? Rosoff: The biggest challenge for interactive marketers today is figuring out how to effectively use myriad new and emerging channels to connect with audiences in ways that are meaningful—whether end-consumers or b-to-b influencers. This is not a new challenge, but recent trends in how audiences are engaging (or not) with traditional media, moving away from destination sites or home page “gateways” in favor of search, feeds and snackable content, influencing each other through their complex—and increasingly portable—social graphs. [It] is creating a dizzying array of choices. And for digital marketers with a global mandate, the complexity is mind-numbing, as they try to understand markets in varying stages of media maturity, with fundamentally different audience needs, and a set of digital platforms and partners (social, mobile, content aggregators) that look nothing like our domestic landscape. It is an amazing time to be a marketer, with tools and channels at our disposal that can extend the experiences of physical products, transform business models and engage audiences in new ways. But it's not easy to do it well. BtoB: Looking ahead, do you think b-to-b marketers will be able to see an ROI from social marketing? Rosoff: Yes, absolutely. The industry is evolving measurement, research and analytical techniques rapidly to address the ROI question. The hard part is figuring out how to think about ROI: How do you define investment in a social network? How do you quantify return on influence? Once we've answered these questions, we can set out to evolve the tools and methodologies to measure them. We spend a lot of time thinking about this. We have developed macro scores of trust, conversations and sentiment for our clients' brands versus industry benchmarks. At the micro-level, we have developed “generational tags” that track viral spread of social applications and identify the best ways for marketers to distribute and seed them. When we marry these tools with social influence research to get to the “whys” behind the “what,” we get a clearer picture of how far investments have gone and how to quantify influence. —K.B.
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