5 Takeaways from The Battle for the Marketing Cloud Event

On Tuesday we helped our friends at DoubleDutch put on a panel discussing what’s next in marketing technology and how startups can capitalize on the skyrocketing CMO tech budget. The event was called “The Battle for the Marketing Cloud,” and it was a hit! CEOs from DoubleDutch (social events platform), KISSmetrics (data analytics), Traackr (influencer marketing) and Genius.com (marketing automation) spoke to a packed house of startup founders with insightful moderator Mike Maples, one of the valley’s top notch VC’s and managing partner at FLOODGATE.

Reflecting on the discussion, I’d like to share my top takeaways from the event:

1) The “shift” in budget from the CIO to the CMO is not really a shift.

Since Gartner predicted that the CMO’s tech budget will eclipse the CIO’s by 2017, there has been a lot of hullabaloo about these two positions competing for cash. In reality, that’s not the case. CIO’s aren’t losing money for tech to their colleagues in marketing; CMOs are just rapidly gaining budget because new digital tools are making it easier for them to prove ROI on their spends. A classic marketing problem used to be, “I know half of my advertising budget is working, I just don’t know which half.” Trackable, data-driven tools are increasing transparency into what channels and messages work. Hence, the boom in enterprise marketing-focused startups. (Credit: Mike Maples, @m2jr).

2) Cloud software is democratizing the marketing vendor space.

Cloud software is making it easier for startups to quickly deploy solutions, and therefore, it’s very easy for in-house marketers to try many different tools and evaluate them. While this helps create an even playing field to edge out software incumbents like SAP and Oracle, it also means that your solution could be booted as quickly as it was installed. The bottom line: you can get in relatively simply, but your product must be rock solid to keep its place in a CMO’s tech mix. (Credit: Lawrence Coburn, @lawrencecoburn)

3) Complex marketing sales require buy-in from the CIO.

Even though the cloud makes it easier to sell to the CMO, marketing software sales that span a large enterprise usually require buy-in from the IT department as well. In the case of data analytics platform KISSmetrics, penetrating an organization usually starts with a lower level developer or marketing manager. Then, as the product gains advocates, the KISSmetrics sales team can move up the food chain, eventually working with both the CIO and the CMO to develop the most productive, long-term customer relationships. (Credit: Hiten Shah, @hnshah)

4) Integrating point-based marketing solutions is the next big opportunity.

Because the cloud has created a boom in point-based solutions that focus on solving one marketing problem elegantly, marketers are usually dealing with a number of tools that don’t talk to each other. The next wave of truly “disruptive” solutions will integrate data from all tools – social, automation, email, events and more – into one easy-to-understand platform. This new solution would empower marketers to understand how their channels work together with powerful data visualization. (Credit: Pierre-Loic Assayag, @pierreloic and Sam Weber, @SamWeber).

5) The best companies don’t compete.

Mike Maples had so many insights about what makes a startup remarkable, it was hard to choose just one to highlight. However, my top takeaway from Mike is that the best companies don’t compete at all. They are not trying to be the best in their category; they create categories. In this position, a company should develop a provocative point of view that repels those “villains” who you would rather not have as customers and attracts others that share your spirit. For example, Salesforce ran with the “no software” perspective that drove away slow-moving traditional sales departments and excited those looking for a less clunky CRM service.

In Mike’s opinion, capitalism isn’t about competition, it’s quite literally about gaining capital, and those who are the only force in their particular market segment usually win this battle. (Credit: Mike Maples, @m2jr)

A big thank you to DoubleDutch for sponsoring the event and to Mike Maples, Lawrence Coburn, Hiten Shah, Pierre-Loic Assayag and Sam Weber for participating. You can continue the discussion by downloading the DoubleDutch event app here or tweeting me @DianaHSmith.

What’s the Next Big Thing?

Everybody wants to know—what’s the next big thing? Last week, we turned to Ben Parr from Mashable for insight on what’s hot in social. Ben spoke at an SFAMA event over at PeopleBrowser to discuss “The Future of Social and Tech.” His presentation began with an intro highlighting how social media has made communication among consumers faster and more efficient. Ben went on to point out that mobile texting and Internet usage have skyrocketed as fewer people use their phone as a traditional phone. This naturally led to a discussion on hot mobile technology. Foursquare is one leader in the space that jumps to the forefront of everyone’s mind as it boasts the SoLoMo (Social, Local and Mobile) triumvirate. Despite this, Foursquare has yet to cross the chasm to mainstream adoption. While I’m an avid Foursquare user and fan myself, Ben pointed out that the 10 million on Foursquare pales in comparison to Facebook’s 700 million users.

Continue reading What’s the Next Big Thing?

Social Game Distractions: PR Advice for a Generation Constantly at Play

It’s soapbox time again over at the ‘Goose – enjoy (and add your 2 cents in the comments below)!

Know why I prefer writing on the weekends? Because all the noise dies down around me – our unrelenting 24/7 news cycle doesn’t stop, but it slows down long enough for a person to clear their head…. During the week, we’re lucky to have time to think about how all the news “pieces” of the day fit into the bigger puzzle – not just in the tech & gaming industry, but anywhere.

Everyday we’re bombarded with new games, new features, new partnerships, milestones and announcements of all shapes and sizes. I’m speaking from experience in 3 crucial game industry roles: PR (public relations), journalist (news editor), and most important for the advice that follows, gaming/tech consumer.

You may be wondering… what makes consumer experience most important when you’re handing out PR advice? Everything. For example, the “corporate stuff” does not matter at all to 95% of consumers. Most people could care less about *who* develops, publishes, promotes or profits from a game, as long as it’s fun, and it’s a good value for their time and money. If you lose sight of that – from any business level, you’ve got an unenviable, uphill battle ahead. That’s not to say corporate announcements don’t have their place, so long as you’re telling consumers what it means for them in the end.

Anyway, speaking of fun –

Back to reasons I like writing on the weekend. It’s easier to pick out the cool, fun, unique stuff (from the weekly news noise) when you’re actually *playing* games and doing things IRL (in real life) that you *enjoy*. The distracting, buzzing news machine is all but silent when you are doing (or writing) something because you want to.

I haven’t logged into FarmVille or Cafe World in weeks. I’ve been busy this summer, traveling too much for any successful harvest schedule. I have been social gaming though – here’s some of what I *have* played lately: Rock Band, The Gig, Wii Sports, LEGO Universe, foursquare, Words with Friends, Bejeweled Blitz, HexaLex, DizzyPad, Pure Hidden, Spot the Difference, Poker, Tennis, Mini-Golf, Bowling, Bean Bag Shuffleboard, Ping Pong, Beer Pong, Name That Tune – well, you get the idea ;) And I’m not alone –

Social and casual games are fighting for the time, attention and money of a generation constantly at play. Everywhere we turn there’s a game-like distraction to pass the time (or sell us something). Why pay when we can get great game experience for free? I imagine that’s a developer’s eternal conundrum, but that’s another topic, another post…

For journalists, it’s getting harder and harder to report anything new in Facebook gaming. I’m tired of pretending to care about new virtual goods. When did microtransactions become the end-all be-all for social games? I realize the freemium model can be somewhat limiting for innovative revenue options, but all these collectibles, gifts, power-ups and digital doo-dads are starting to feel like deja vu all over again.

Ditching the distractions

Pro tips are always common sense once you’ve heard them, so try this on for size: If your pitch is newsworthy, it will write itself. If you are just sending an announcement to try and drum up news or sales during development downtime, you’ll find yourself stretching for a “hook”, and you won’t fool anyone. I’m not being cynical, jaded or bitter, and I know the rest of the world (and industry) is still spinning when you aren’t, but just be patient. Wait for the *right* times and get the *right* stories out there – don’t make your game/name another distraction – make it a hot topic. The biggest news, best promotions, most important business moves, and most unique pitches/campaigns are the easiest and most fulfilling to pull off. More importantly, they generate the best impact and results. In other words, BE news to make news.


Here in the social gaming news space, so far, we’ve been pretty darn open to distractions. Everything from new in-game items and UI tweaks, to free gifts and fan bonuses, gets plenty of play in all social game blogrolls (including the ‘Goose)… But as more games come to market, Facebook users are slowing spreading out across a multitude of titles.

Too big for their britches?

If your game isn’t in the top 25 leaderboards (aka, has 7+ million MAUs), or growing like a weed in in the top gainers category, you’ll be hardpressed to get coverage on your new line of virtual goods. (#justbeinghonest) Unless, of course, you’ve partnered with X top brand (a la Zynga – 7/11), will support a well-known charity by donating some significant portion of virtual good sales, or are giving away large sums of cash in an exciting contest, tournament or event… But that all goes back to *being* news to *make* news, in the end.

Even still, the top 25 developers and other social game superstars are starting to find less bang for their buck *because* the increasingly diversified industry has become too big and too busy. It’s simply not possible to cover every individual update, even top titles are becoming a newsfeed distraction for straying users. On the bright side, this diversifying market should eventually yield more loyal players, who play more often and don’t need/want a barrage of third-party news. These loyal fans already know about new items, and want to hear something new – something more. They want to be heard, be connected, be a part – not just the end-user. Give players major real world news that brings them back to your game – they want culture and they want it now!

Your turn – Where do you draw the line between social and casual gaming, and how do you intend to drown out the distractions?

LEGO Universe and HexaLex are TriplePoint clients. This article was originally published on Frisky Mongoose.

Tech Toys, Santa, and Potatoes: Chatting with Engadget’s Ross Miller

Ross Miller, Engadget

In our continued efforts to turn the tables around on journalists all over the tech industry and put them in the interview hot seat, today’s spotlight is with Ross Miller of Engadget. Currently, Ross is an Associate Editor for the leading tech blog and is Engadget’s only contact in California. He has been reporting on all sorts of gadgets and gizmos for the better part of a decade and has an extensive tech-related educational background. We had the opportunity to chat with Ross about his work at Engadget, some things to look forward to in 2010, and poker winning strategies.

TP: First off, thank you for making time for this interview. With the holidays and CES just around the corner, things sure are chaotic.

RM: Very much so. My inbox has begun to rebel against me. It’s creating passive aggressive labels just to get my attention.

TP: Tell us a little bit about your position at Engadget. How did you come to be there?

RM: A lot of it came about as a stroke of luck. The abridged version is that around 2005 while in college (University of Georgia) I was looking for a summer job. The university radio station and newspaper weren’t as keen at hiring, so I took a cold call for then-small time gaming blog Joystiq, with nary a resume bullet point. By some stroke of luck I got the gig, we got bought by AOL a year later, and then towards my graduation back in December ’08 I started helping Engadget out in preparation of CES 2009. Just after that I got hired as Associate Editor and moved out to San Francisco in April 2009.

TP: What are your favorite kinds of gadgets to review and which types do you tend to stay away from?

RM: As much as I love LED-flashing TARDIS model on my desk, I think I could go my whole life without another novelty USB device. What really excites me more than anything else is the mobile industry. Even in just the span of a couple years, the technology has grown leaps and bounds, and I’m really looking forward to what next year brings with especially the Android platform.

TP: Are there any gizmos you’re really looking forward to checking out in 2010?

RM: I’m interested to see how Microsoft and Sony’s gesture controls, a.k.a. Project Natal and yet-to-be-officially named “PS3 motion controller,” pan out. In no way do I think either solution will replace the standard controller — there’s too much tradition and precedent there — but as a complementary input method, I remain cautiously optimistic developers will find some interesting and creative uses. Surely there’s been enough trial and error with Wii titles, right?

TP: When did you first realize you were a true techie?

RM: That’s a tough question, I think everyone around me realized it before I did. If an abundance of math and science classes don’t count, probably my moment of no return was when I realize I could program my TI-83 calculator to make games, and more importantly, function as a cheat sheet for exams. That was probably my first all-in-one pocket computer, in retrospect.

TP: Engadget has been named the blog of the decade by Adweek, how do you feel about that? Do you ever use it as a pickup line?

RM: Oh, all the time! Unfortunately, it usually ends with my fiancé making some disparaging innuendo involving low-power Atom processors (if you don’t get that joke, it’s for the best, really). To be honest, I’m just about to hit my first year with Engadget, so I really don’t take any credit for its incredible popularity. I am a lucky cog in phantasmagorical machine running on unicorn tears, and that reader’s choice award is yet another reminder of how fortunate we are to have such a supportive and passionate readership.

TP: For the PR pros out there, what is the best way to get your attention? What do you look for in a pitch?

RM: Just get to the point, really. I’ll sort through literally hundreds of emails in a day, and if I don’t see a key noun (company, product, technology, etc.) within the first three words, there’s a risk it’ll get lost in the shuffle. Spare the superlatives and give us the facts. If we’re making a dream list here, also take a few minutes to think if this is really something that falls under Engadget’s domain. I understand that there’s a pressure to get your clients’ news out there, and I’m not going to call out any specific company or firm, but constantly blasting us every little newsbrief isn’t going to get our attention. Some of the best PR relationships I’ve established started with a little bit of discussion on what we will and won’t be able to cover, and those are the people whose names always stand out, despite sending less messages.

TP: What’s this thing you have with potatoes? Is it possible to use potatoes to help win a poker game? Could be useful for CES.

RM: Haha. So when we were writing Engadget profiles for the redesign, I actually made a list of different closers I could use, just to lighten up the paragraph a bit. I don’t recall the others, but that struck me as one of the more absurd and relatable options. It’s actually a quote from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series, specifically Life, the Universe and Everything: “It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.” As far as poker’s concerned, your best bet is to draw eyes on a spud and pretend to talk to during hands. People will think you’re crazy, and that facade might work to your advantage. And if you are actually crazy, well, it still might help your game.

TP: You’ve been in San Francisco for almost a year now, what is the strangest thing you have witnessed in the City while living here?

RM: I don’t even know where to begin. In my first month I found myself inadvertently walking in the Bay to Breakers parade, which is miles-long walk chockfull of elaborate costumes and a dash of streaking. Still, if I had to pick one instance, it’d have to be the recent SantaCon 2009: Total Santarchy. Thousands-strong red tide pub crawl? The things that I saw, I’m afraid I can’t even tell to my family pictures.

TP: You can only live and play in one SF district for the rest of your time here, which one and why?

RM: Given my work schedule, I’m still trying to find time to check out the city, so my view of each district is very incomplete. If I’ve gotta pick one now, I’d have to say Mission District just for the sheer geographical size and variety of bars, dance clubs, restaurants, and shops. Ask me again next year, I’m sure I’ll have a different answer at that point!

Spotlight with TIME’s New Tech Editor

Peter Ha - Tech Editor TIME Magazine/ TIME.com
Peter Ha - Tech Editor TIME Magazine/ TIME.com

In what hopes to be a recurring feature we will be turning the tables around on a prominent journalist and making them the subject of a short interview. Our goal is to bridge the gap between journalists and PR professionals and foster better relationships in our daily work lives. If you have any suggestions for journalists you would like to know more about or see interviewed here, leave a note in the comments.

Peter Ha is an NYC-based journalist who spent several years as the news editor for TechCrunch’s Crunchgear.com. Recently Peter left his gig at Crunchgear to pursue a new opportunity with TIME magazine and TIME.com as the editor of their new technology section which is set to launch this November. Moving from a tech focused site to one of the most recognized brands in weekly news magazines, Peter’s new position represents a changing of the guard in journalism and news media as the generation who was born along with the Internet reports back to the generation before.

TP: Tell us about your new job at TIME. What is your role going to be there?

Continue reading Spotlight with TIME’s New Tech Editor