Mike McGuire

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Mike McGuire
Research VP
11 years at Gartner
21 years IT industry

Mike McGuire guides digital marketers on best practices for developing strategies. He specializes in how context, community, location and time — combined with a consumer’s purchase history and purchase intent — are changing the relationship between consumers and brands …Read Full Bio

Black Friday 2013: Half-a-billion $ Says Mobile-enabled Shopping is the New Reality

by Mike McGuire  |  December 3, 2013  |  2 Comments

Some call their mobile device their “remote control of life.” But the results of 2013′s “Black Friday” and Thanksgiving-day shopping frenzy make me think a big chunk of U.S. shoppers think of their mobile devices as the shopper’s little helper. 

Nearly one-quarter of online purchases tracked by Adobe’s Digital Index were made from a mobile device during this year’s Black Friday/Thanksgiving Day shopping period.  Not surprisingly, tablets accounted for 77% of those transactions.  Compared to 2012′s total, mobile online purchases during Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday shopping periods, spiked 118%. No surprise that tablets accounted for 77% of those transactions (with the iPad accounting for a majority of tablet purchases).  But iOS- and Android-based smartphones did generate more than $100 million in sales during this year’s Thanksgiving Day/Black Friday period .

One data  point I thought particularly interesting, particularly given my colleague Jake Sorofman’s research on the topic of “showrooming” (Gartner log-in required) was that brick-n-click retailers fared better than online-only competitors.  I’m not implying that “showrooming” isn’t a threat, at some level, but that embracing consumer usage of smartphones in the shopping experience does pay off.

But the returns from this year’s  biggest shopping period (in the U.S. anyhow) should eliminate any doubts about the power and permanence of mobile in the modern shopping experience.  


Category: Digital Marketing     Tags: ,

Of Covering Bets on Mobile and the End-to-End Customer Relationship

by Mike McGuire  |  October 4, 2013  |  Comments Off

The past 18 months in digital marketing can be boiled down to a few key phrases: big data, mobile, social, mobile and mobile. Also, we’ve seen a sharp uptick in TLAs that start with the letter “m.”  

Once you get beyond my hyperbole (heads up, there might be more), I think you’ll agree. (If you don’t, well, that’s what why the Internets gave us the “Comments” section. And unlike Popular Science, I welcome your comments.) 

The most recent bit of evidence of mobile’s growing role in digital marketing: IBM announced Thursday the acquisition of New York-based Xtify. Billed by IBM as a “leader in mobile engagement”  Xtify specializes in targeted offers sent via mobile Web, app-based push notifications or SMS messages. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.  Xtify inhabits a very popular space populated by companies such as Vibes and Urban Airship, all of which have carved out important roles as the mobile driver of their clients’ digital marketing strategies. IBM executives were quick to point out that Xtify fills two important strategic roles — delivering multi-device mobile marketing capabilities to its digital marketing platforms and a powerful mobile enhancement to its commerce offerings.  
In the past year we’ve seen other platform players such as SAP snap up mobile application companies or we’ve seen digital marketing platforms such as ExactTarget develop extensive partnerships with companies such as Urban Airship. 
Beyond simply reacting to the growing popularity of smartphones and tablets, platform players such as IBM have realized their customers — from retailers to hoteliers and banks — have to fundamentally redesign how they communicate with consumers.  Mobile is increasingly being viewed as the linking tool that enables a company to establish and maintain an on-going relationship with their customers and prospects.  
Need more evidence for mobile’s importance? Well, keep an eye on the Mobile Marketing page of Gartner for Marketing Leaders.  We will be publishing some very cool primary research in the coming weeks based on surveys of actual mobile marketing strategists and practitioners — research that will give you some real insight into why you’re seeing some of these acquisitions and alliances popping up. 
Still not convinced of mobile’s ascension? Tell me why in the aforementioned “comments” section. 

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Deux Ex Machina — Only as Good as its Human Programmers

by Mike McGuire  |  September 27, 2013  |  2 Comments

My esteemed colleague Jake Sorofman’s recent post got my attention. Probably because I really like Jake’s writing, but also because I’ve been around tech for awhile. And my dad’s an artist who literally only uses his eyes, hands and some paint to create. Stuff. Paintings.

So what really got me going was when Jake asked the questions, “…can automation commoditize the human genius now required to produce emotionally evocative content? Can this lightning in a bottle be canned and distributed at scale?”

Now we’re headed to that fork in the road where Jake and I part ways. He goes on to say that human emotions are easily mainpulated and that given certain well-known and well understood forms of storytelling — his example of Hollywood is spot-on — a well designed machine could spit out a convincing script.  Perhaps. But what will happen is an exponential increase in derivative, formulaic content that while satisfying a majority of consumers, ultimately works against the audience and the creators.  Why? As it becomes more and more predictable, the content – and from a marketer’s perspective, what marketing messages can be associated with it — reduce even quicker than the machines can master reductive storytelling.  Why? Because it becomes the norm. And all the norm knows how to do is replicate itself.  Machines can certainly gain further insight by repetion and clever programming, but ultimately they will simply refine an exisitng model.

So to all the creatives of the world, I ask you not to ignore my esteemed colleague.  Rather, as you contemplate the power in automation, also try to remember the words of noted philosopher (and shredding guitarist), Frank Zappa who once said:

“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”





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A Mobile Marketing Take on the Jay-Z/Samsung Effort

by Mike McGuire  |  July 10, 2013  |  1 Comment

The Jay-Z “Magna Carta-Holy Grail”/Samsung partnership that should have been fairly straightforward — global music star partners with leading smartphone manufacturer for mutual promotion – is either a mixed bag (“Jay-Z is Watching, and He Knows Your Friends”)z  at best, or a bust (“Jay-Z Android App Cloned by Hackers”).

I think the “any press is good press” meme is fine for the terminally optimistic but probably not good words to live by for your average mobile marketer. So let’s think about what this means to marketers.

First, file this under “Case Studies of ‘Sure-thing’ Marketing Efforts Gone Bad.”  Not suggesting we exhaustively dissect but try to find the direct causes of the flame-out and ensure we’re all taking steps to avoid repeating them.

So, who wanted what and how was it supposed to happen:

  • “Who wanted what”: Samsung wanted “cool” (multiple interpretations of what that means to a given audience), Jay-Z welcomed the promotional support and the money.
  • “How” A whole slew of cross-channel marketing tactics were included in the app: using Facebook logins, Tweeting about the fact that you were getting the new album.

So the app gets hacked, so that’s not good for Samsung. Jay-Z might have made some money up front — but did he alienate other fans who had to wait to get the new album because they didn’t have a Samsung smartphone?

What really struck me was that leaving aside the apparent security flaw(s), neither side seemed to be interested in genuine, organic social-media metrics.  Among the biggest complaints about the app from reviewers and fans quoted in press coverage was that in order to unlock some of the special features in the app e.g. getting a look at the lyrics, users were required to post to Facebook or Twitter — one post for each song lyric requested.

This, I think, is the nugget to take away from this episode: don’t let your app or your mobile-offer campaign make the customer feel like they’re having to jump through hoops — after they’ve gone to the trouble of “getting in line” or some other form of making an extra effort to get the chance to acquire something.

And whatever you do, don’t engage in social-network-shows-of-affection-or-else tactics.  I mean, talk about polluting the ecosystem.  ”Likes” still have a bit of squish around them when it comes to actual business value. Now their value could be even less if consumers are effectively forced to throw off less-than-genuine shows of affection.

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Of Transit Maps, Mobile Technology and Mobile Marketing Etiquette

by Mike McGuire  |  June 27, 2013  |  4 Comments

What mobile technology — devices, applications, the mobile web — affords marketers are a unique set of capabilities that can move your relationship with customers and prospects from the occasional to the persistent.  But you need to leaven the desire to adapt one of the many new mobile marketing tools or techniques with the idea that asking the customer or prospect for permission to deploy the technology or technique is the foundation for building a solid relationship in the mobile channel.

As my colleague Jake Sorofman noted in his post on Tuesday, mobile is the connective tissue of a digital marketing strategy — it links to virtually all stages of the path to purchase from initial awareness to conversion and loyalty.  That’s a key reason why you’ll see the mobile portrayed as a neighborhood (“Mobility”) and as a track (“Mobile”) on Gartner for Marketing Leaders Digital Marketing Transit Map.  The mobile track transits all of the major neighborhoods — as the connective tissue — but is also its own neighborhood.

Looking at all the stations of the transit map gives you the major technology enablers required for optimizing mobile engagement, from mobile messaging and commerce to mobile media and targeting.  The Digital Marketing Transit Map is going to be a vital tool for you to navigate the Mobility neighborhood and the Mobile Track.

So lots of new tools to engage with consumers on their mobile devices but with the new tools comes a whole set of challenges.  And responsibilities. Mobile coupons and offers have shown their ability to drive transactions at retail. But send one too many coupons at just the wrong time and you risk alienating would was or could have been a valuable customer.  Assume the user’s context is always that they’re one click away from dumping the relationship.

I think a few catch phrases, aphorisms, or whatever you want to call them, are very important to keep top of mind when you look at the Transit Map when developing strategies.

  • First, opt-ins rule! And not just because of regulations. Because mobile phones and tablets are so intertwined in consumers daily lives – for work and personal communications and content consumption – individuals tend to be extremely proprietary about the devices and the connections they make with them.  Keeping that emotional dynamic in mind when considering deployment of any new technology or technique.
  • Second, view each instance of asking for permission as an opportunity to deliver value to the consumer and extend the relationship by asking them to keep the door open.  Value can be something as simple as digital offer to save money on a purchase, but it can also be as nuanced as showing them that your mobile app or mobile website is locus of convenience.
  • Third, you need to track each and every one of these interactions with an eye towards understanding what led up to the contact or offer, what happened during the contact or offer and what happened post-contact or offer?

All of the tools and technologies spread along the mobile track and within the Mobility neighborhood can be incredibly powerful.  Take care with deploying them.


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Great New Infographic — CMO spending trends

by Mike McGuire  |  April 16, 2013  |  Comments Off

Our graphics team collaborated with Laura McLellan to develop a cool new infographic showing top results from our recent CMO survey.  Check it out here.

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Music and Brands: Neverending Love Story or Too Many Snags?

by Mike McGuire  |  March 14, 2013  |  2 Comments

“We never got it off on that revolution stuff, and
It was such a drag
Too many snags

(by David Bowie, made a hit by Mott the Hoople)

My wanderings bring me to Austin, TX, this week where I’m attending the SXSW conference. 

A benefit of being on a panel is you can go to other panels and steal, er, assimilate and contextualize material from other panelists for your own.  One of the panels, “The New Vibrant Ecosystem of Brands and Music,” assembled some folks from agencies Young & Rubicam, brands such as Nike and PepsiCo and Beggars Group, one of the largest independent group of labels in Europe.  The relationship  between brands and music is not particularly new but the evolution of the music industry (or the unwiding of the business of music), depending on your point of view) is making that relationship all the more important — for both sides. 

Brands have long tried to “be cool” by licensing popular music. Sometimes it works (I guess): the Stones licensing “Start Me Up” to Microsoft for the Windows 95.  Sometimes, it’s just weird, like Bob Dylan licensing “Lovesick” to Victoria’s Secret. 

But because of the complete disruption of the music industry, and a recognition by smart agency types of the need to make the linkage between bands and brands authentic, we’re starting to see smart band managers and bands utilizing the power and resources of brands to launch their careers.  The panelists cited some particularly good examples –  National’s work with American Express and Hyundai’s “Re:generation” documentary.

Panelists hastened to point out that there is no one-size-fits-all model for working with bands and artists. It can range from a simple “synch” license (in which a brand simply licenses a song for use in a commercial) — an agreement that’s an increasingly important source of revenue for labels and musicians — to getting directly involved in the launch of a band’s career.   PepsiCo, for example, has invested deeply in creating a set of operational relationships, including an independent label, to support various artists at the beginning of their career

Authenticity  and strategic support from the brands top executives are crucial to brands looking to create effective relationships. 

“It’s always a challenge” to make these arrangements work, said Javier Farfan, of PepsiCo. These n need to be a strategic imperative supported by the brand and its agency.  ”The challenge is keeping everyone aware of what the objective of campaign really is,” said Javier Farfan, of PepsiCo. “It’s about the conversation between the artists, fans and the brand helping to incorporate the brand in unique ways.

“It’s us listening to the band or artist, not telling them what we want,” he said. “ We have idea about what kind of music we wanted, we helped the artist find the right producer . . . and then amplifying a stage for (the artist) so they have a bigger stage.” 

Creating an authentic and beneficial relationship based on music and artists, however, is not for the faint of heart, according to panelists.  First, “synchs” are a good baseline but to move beyond that level means hiring or working with entities that are not only attuned to musical tastes of consumers in multiple markets, but also in the very complex licensing requirements around the use of music in commercials or campaigns. 

You don’t have to look any further than the hub-bub around Baauer’s “Harlem Shake” to see what can go wrong with copyrights. 

Music can certainly be a powerful brand resonator, music, but one that should be treated with care. Otherwise, the lyrics of that old Mott the Hoople song will be what resonates.


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“Social” and “social” and There’s Commerce

by Mike McGuire  |  February 15, 2013  |  Comments Off

So there I was, at my parents’ house , watching the Super Bowl with a collection of family friends and siblings.  Being the guy who researches mobile marketing and media, I was pulling out my iPhone to check out a few second screen applications. 

And that’s when I was confronted with the reality of “Social” and “social.”  Here I was trying to be “social” by hitting the social graph when more than a couple of people who were part of my “Social” context in meat-space suddenly gave me the dog eye (disapproving look).  They were not happy that the smartphone screen appeared more important to me than their conversation or what was going on on the big screen. 

 What does this little slice of life tell us? 

 While smartphones, tablets and other technologies have linked the offline and online worlds, there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done in identifying, building and exploiting the “Social” and “social” elements of today’s consumers.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the social contract between consumers, advertisers and media is still being formed when it comes to mobile.  Mobile technologies have built the bridge that links the two, but there’s still a heck of a lot of work to be done in designing and building the on- and off-ramps from that bridge.  I think one of the key approaches to these on-ramps and off-ramps is considering the notion of “cognitive offloading.” (I’m setting it up, here, people, wait a ‘graph or two.)

 Commerce is already working on its own path to rewriting the social contract implicit in shopping: fighting showrooming at first, but slowly understanding it as a new component of consumer behavior and working to exploit it.  But unlike showrooming behavior which is implicitly a real-time activity (the consumer is in the store now and is checking prices and perhaps entering the “social” world to look for recommendations or product reviews from friends), there are a whole series of consumer inquiries that form engagements points commerce providers can use to help the consumers can leverage to bridge the “social” and “Social” worlds. 

 Think about it. If showrooming is a real-time activity, then merely sending a message to a business to find out if they carry Product X, or calling a restaurant to see if there’s a common table or if customers can order entrees at the bar without reservations, is what kind of transaction? They’re non real-time and they’re reflective of a consumer that is perhaps in the Social context — meaning they don’t need to or want to lean-in to an app or website to fully engage and make the decision right then.  They’re looking for bit of information but want to defer the rest of the decision-making process.  Enabling this sort of “cognitive offloading” (here) is a bridging technique commerce folks should be exploiting.

 So, do you buy that the new social contract is about bridging “social” and “Social” in commerce — with the consumer controlling the interactions but open to offers or interaction points that are timely (occurring at an appropriate time and contextually relevant)? 


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The New Social Contract

by Mike McGuire  |  February 8, 2013  |  Comments Off

 Besides pondering why the 49ers QB didn’t use the legs that got him the starting job to get himself into end zone last Sunday, I’ve also been pondering how mobile changes the relationship between consumers and brands.  I got started on that after a recent mobile media conference (Mobile Media Summit) I attended in San Francisco. 

The guy making the point was Jeff Bernstein, EVP and global managing partner at the media agency Universal McCann Worldwide, in a presentation about real-time marketing and real-time mobile marketing and its manifold opportunities and complexities. Bernstein cautioned the audience that mobile marketing and advertising practitioners need to take care to avoid being overcome by the technology hype.

Couple of his key points:

  • Media has transformed from something people watched (read, listened to, etc.)to something people do (consumers control their media experiences, not programmers)
  • The average U.S. consumer is exposed to 1,200 ad messages/impressions per day (marketing budgets go up but its harder and harder to break through)

So what’s a mobile marketer to do? Buy more targeting data? Build an application? More outbound traffic? Turn up the volume?

Maybe, but not until marketers stop to really understand the changing nature of the relationship between their brands and consumers.  Bernstein noted that in a media-saturated world, advertisers have to acknowledge the implied social contract in mobile that’s very different than the implied social contract for established mediums such as TV.  In TV, the consumer knows that for every 30 minutes of TV content, there are guaranteed six minutes of advertisements.  Mobile marketers are failing today because they don’t realize what’s changed.  Today, the implied social contract in mobile is that the consumer will engage if the trigger point is relevant to them and their particular context, it’s compelling and it’s authentic.  (To the point about compelling and authentic content, see my colleague Jake Sorofman’s recent post on brand journalism and content marketing here.)

Knowing at what moment a marketer or advertiser can add value for a consumer is absolutely crucial. This then requires having the right assets in place that can be delivered at the right point in time. 

At one point Bernstein was asked if privacy was going to be a hurdle, given that establishing these kinds of relationships (to deliver such precisely timed relevant content) requires a flow of information from a consumer that is fraught with privacy challenges. 

But Bernstein doesn’t see privacy and technology as the biggest hurdles. I’m paraphrasing here, but he argued that while privacy was definitely going to be a persistent concern, the biggest challenges were going to be found in changing the business processes and datasets and straight-up logistics involved with developing user scenarios and the right content mix to mobile consumers.  Much of the technologies are in place to deliver on the rosy future of mobile marketing and advertising, Bernstein said, but the business processes are not. 

OK, your turn.  So how do y0u think you should meet the consumer halfway with mobile?

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Wondering Why Your Peers are Investing in Social Media?

by Mike McGuire  |  January 18, 2013  |  Comments Off

This Friday: links to my colleague’s research!

In addition to Jake Sorofman’s piece on the MobileFirst conference, Adam Sarner delivers a great glimpse of his Social Media research agenda with the key reasons to make the investment straight-away.


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