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

Yahoo Buys into Flurry’s Mobile Marketing Analytics to Bolster “Mobile First” Credentials

by Mike McGuire  |  July 23, 2014  |  3 Comments

Yahoo wants us to know they’re a “mobile first” company. How do you prove that commitment to mobile? You go buy a mobile marketing analytics and mobile-ad network like, say, Flurry.  And that’s just want Yahoo did the other day, reportedly plunking down between $200 million and $300 million (according to press reports). 

 (Author’s note: I really do not care for “mobile first” as a positioning statement for anybody or any company. It reads and sounds fatuous, at best. At worst, it reinforces the notion that mobile is “special.” This kind of thinking turns mobile into an island of resources, disconnected from a marketing department’s customer touchpoints.)

 This acquisition is emblematic of the current state of mobile-app and mobile marketing analytics – very, very frothy. Demand for accountability in online advertising is just as high, if not higher, in mobile, driving increasing demands for marketing teams to invest in analytics.  This demand is likely to increase, especially as programmatic advertising and real-time bidding spread from online to mobile.  For greater detail on these categories of mobile marketing analytics providers, Gartner clients can review ”Market Guide for Mobile Marketing Analytics.”)

 We’ll see how Yahoo manages this acquisition.  The company’s 450 million mobile monthly visitors (a data point recently released by Yahoo), and 100% increase in mobile display ad and search revenue (between Q2 2013 and Q2 2014), are certainly incentives to ensure the mobile investment pays off.  Yet, as a company, Yahoo’s track record of successfully integrating acquisitions is . . . uneven.  While current CEO Marissa Mayer was not at Yahoo when certain high-profile acquisitions were made – Maven Networks and, more recently, IntoNow — this purchase could be Mayer’s opportunity to show how a strategic acquisition can be turned into an important asset for the company’s current and future business.

 Then again, if you’re a mobile marketing exec who has made an investment in Flurry, keep the clear lenses in your glasses, because a lot of folks will be offering you rose-colored ones.  Yahoo’s global scale is undeniable, and that bodes well for Flurry.  But Yahoo’s uneven history with acquisitions is just as undeniable. 

 Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking, “Jaded much, Mike?” Let me know one way or another.


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You’re a Marketer With a Big New Budget for 2014? How are You Sleeping?

by Mike McGuire  |  July 3, 2014  |  1 Comment

It’s mid-way through 2014, and you’re on a marketing team that saw a significant increase in budget dollars in the past two years.  Maybe you’re good. The strategy’s in place for all your major units, and as far as you can tell, it’s nothing but smooth sailing ahead. (Note: If that description fits you, please feel free to contact me on e-mail because I want to be able to identify for our clients “the one marketer who has it all figured out.”)

But more than likely, what’s really happening is that you and your team got that big budget increase for marketing, with a special emphasis on mobile and social, but there are more than a few evenings where you’re sitting there, staring at the screen and you’re thinking to yourself, “Biggie (the late Notorious B.I.G.) nailed it: more money, more problems.” 

For the past two years, digital marketing budgets have continued to grow, with tools such as social and mobile marketing cited as top budget priorities in recent Gartner for Marketing Leaders surveys of marketing decision makers.  These increases are due, in large part, to the fact that marketers are still reacting to the big changes were seeing with how quickly consumers are turning to online media, social networks and the like. Finding new tools for the marketing toolbox has to be one of your priorities, right? I mean, think about the following factoid that just dropped into the news the other day: Millennials (18-34-year-olds) in the U.S. are spending as much 14.5 hours a week on their smartphones.  (Registration might be required.)

That’s . . .just a lot of time.

Fortunately for you, the Gartner for Marketing Leaders just published 2014 edition of the Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing.   You should look at the Hype Cycle as an annually updated snapshot of the key technologies at play in digital marketing.  You’re going to need these tools – maybe not all, but many of them.

We break down the key technology driven trends into technology profiles. Among the profiles we rated as “transformational” that I think marketers need to track include data management platforms, real-time marketing, digital commerce, personalization and data-driven marketing. (Near and dear to my heart are mobile marketing analytics, augmented reality and content marketing.) 

All of these technologies play their role in your ability as a marketer to engage with a customer or  prospect at the right time, with the right offer on virtually any connected device the consumer happens to be carrying. Such highly targeted, personalized marketing scenarios are going to require marketers and their partners to acquire, manage and analyze vast amounts of information– and be able to act on them very quickly.

Biggie might have distilled the angst caused by rapid accumulation of resources into a memorable phrase. Our Hype Cycles can help you distill a sea of choices into a targeted list of investments in technologies to move you from seeing nothing but problems to embracing a set of solutions.

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Category: Digital Marketing Mobile Marketing Uncategorized     Tags: ,

Calibrate Yourself!

by Mike McGuire  |  June 12, 2014  |  1 Comment

So I just got myself a new stand-up paddleboard (aka, SUP to the uninitiated).


Having grown up on the beach in Northern California, and reached, ahem, “a certain age,” the appeal of getting out on the water and getting a different kind of exercise — without the “aggro” competition at most surf spots — was appealing.  

As with any new endeavor, I’m always curious about my progression. One of the obvious ways to measure my progress is to watch my peers.  Sure, I’ve taken a few lessons and my wife gave me a great book about SUP techniques, but what do I really focus on? Other SUP-ers. 

What’s their stance when paddling? What’s their stroke cadence? Are they getting to the buoy faster or slower than me? Sometimes, your peers will even offer insight to assist your own observations, as happened to yours truly.  About the third time out on the ocean with the board, some of my peers assisted me in my observations and helped me callibrate my progression. 

As I was confidently cruising along, an outrigger canoe powered by seven young folks passed me by.  They offered the kind of encouragement one offers to a small child learning to ride a bike for the first time. Like, in my case, when the lead paddler politely yelled — in a very bright, chirpy voice — “you’ll go faster if you turn the paddle blade around.” 

 As it is with middle-aged hobbies, so shall it be with marketing.  While there are considerably greater numbers of tools for quantifying marketing’s performance than there are for quantifying my performance as an aspiring SUP-er, calibrating your marketing effort by understanding how your peers are doing is very valuable. I don’t mean ape your competitors or peers in other industries.  

 What I mean is that making time to check out how your peers, or your competitors, are managing market changes, adopting new technologies or managing their marketing operations can be educational. It can help you to remain  just detached enough from your day-to-day work to be objective about your performance and your team’s.

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Category: Digital Marketing     Tags:

Cool-hunting in Digital Marketing

by Mike McGuire  |  May 9, 2014  |  2 Comments

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. The following two statements come from some of our clients. They encapsulate the challenge and fun of being on analyst. They are:

  • “Don’t let us be surprised by something cool that can change our approach!”
  • “We want you to tell us about cool things we can use!”

Now, when clients say “cool” they are generally not (just) looking for something that would appeal to hipster Brooklyn-ites. “Cool” to the digital marketer (or the social marketer or the mobile marketer . . .) is all about being able to separate the noise from the true signal when it comes to a technology platform or service that’s going to make them more efficient and effective at their jobs.

And lord knows that these days in digital marketing, the noise level in all areas is rising all the time. Being able to keep track of products, services, tactics and techniques for current needs is hard enough, without even thinking about planning for the future.

Yet, perhaps more so than any other group in a company, digital marketers are expected to be delivering “cool.” It’s a thorny challenge: driving demand and interest (that turns into sales revenue) products and services to consumers who are constantly changing the methods and technologies they use to interact with the world, not to mention brands.

What to do, indeed? Well, the customer directives I mentioned above are the reason we produce documents like our freshly minted, 2014 Cool Vendors. We have one for Digital Marketing, Data-Driven Marketing, Social Marketing, Mobile Marketing and Digital Commerce. There all over at GML.


Category: Digital Marketing Mobile Marketing Strategic Planning     Tags:

Facebook Ups its Bet on Mobile

by Mike McGuire  |  May 2, 2014  |  3 Comments

You can say this about Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg: once they got the memo about mobile, internalized it and then made it an operational imperative. The company has moved to create an ecosystem of services for app developers that, to my mind, is approaching a level of comprehensiveness that we typically associate with companies such as Apple or Google.

If you look at the announcements from this week’s f8 Developers Conference, the move to develop their own mobile advertising network, the Audience Network, committing to two-year API stability for its core developer platforms (aimed at giving developers more notice for important changes), and a handful of other improvements such as anonymous log-in that lets consumers try an app before having to fork over their personal info — show us a company that’s coming to understand the notion of building and maintaining an ecosystem.

While it’s not doing an OS or a new piece of hardware (yet?), the company’s strategic and tactical moves of the past 18 months are starting to make advertisers and app developers forget about the period a few years ago where it didn’t seem to occur to FB management that smartphones were going to be important.
For marketers, Facebook’s ecosystem has the advantage of bridging the Apple and Google ecosystems. The motivation to unleash Facebook Messenger is aimed at delivering on that strategic imperative.

Given that we’ve also heard rumors that the company is considering suites of apps, versus a single monolithic approach, marketers need to watch to see how Facebook’s ecosystem will support such new species.


Category: Digital Marketing Mobile Marketing     Tags:

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.”





Category: Digital Marketing Uncategorized     Tags: ,

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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Category: Digital Marketing Uncategorized     Tags: , ,

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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