Is real-time marketing the future of advertising?

The Twitter and Publicis Groupe partnership suggests a renewed focus on live marketing. By Arif Durrani.

Twitter’s new commercial partnership with Publicis Groupe has captured the imagination this week, not least because both parties admit to still trying to work out what it might all mean.

On one level, the partnership, which will be led out of Starcom MediaVest Group, can be viewed as little more than good PR for both parties. WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell has already been assured the deal represents a non-exclusive partnership.

So SMG has committed to exploring new commercial opportunities with Twitter with a view to trialing across its portfolio of clients, which include Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Samsung. Well, unsurprisingly, when it comes to one of the world’s fastest-growing social media channels, so is everyone else.

However, comments from Publicis’ chief executive, Maurice Lévy, tantalisingly put more meat on the bones. Under the agreement, clients will receive preferred advertising slots on Twitter, as well as access to bespoke research, data and new products.

One of those new products will be the "in-Tweet mobile survey" in collaboration with Nielsen, which was announced in October last year. The brand surveys appear just like a Promoted Tweet within a user’s timeline on mobile devices and desktop. They will invite users to fill out a survey directly within the Tweet itself.

Laura Desmond, the global chief executive of SMG who was in London last week for Publicis’ investor day, said that one cornerstone of the partnership would be about combining deals across channels and serving content in "real time".

"We have found value in driving clients towards digital, data and content," she said. "There is a new era of marketing around convergence – of connected experiences across screens."

Some media analysts are already expecting Twitter’s global advertising revenues to reach around $600 million this year, rising to $1 billion in 2014. Much of this growth is tied to the rise of real-time marketing and the increasing ability to harness data to optimise campaigns based on reactions.

So, is this the future of advertising?


YES Mark Grether, chief operating officer, Xaxis

"Deals such as this further our goal of enabling brands ever-greater opportunity to connect to their audience with pinpoint accuracy, immediacy and with the greatest possible visibility."

NO Richard Morris, managing director, Vizeum

"Exciting stuff. But the future of advertising will still be predicated on building brands, and that’s a complicated business. While the data might be real-time, brand growth, in most cases, isn’t."

YES Alan King, managing partner, digital, UM London

"It’s still most readily associated with social platforms or ‘newsjacking’, but I can see a world where the majority of advertising will have a real-time element – be it the way ads are traded, tracked, optimised or how ads are created."

MAYBE Steve Chester, head of data and industry programmes, IAB

"For certain forms of marketing, real-time and programmatic buying is the future. For some mobile companies active in direct response, it is already responsible for 50 per cent of adspend. Its role in big branding campaigns is less obvious."