Saturday, October 19, 2013
Leak Marketing: Are Product Releases Shifting Fundamentally in the Realtime Era?
But in an era in which the broad realtime capabilities of Web publishing and social media are tipping the scales of what draws people's attention for breaking news, it seems that leaks are starting to shift the contours of how products are released in some ways that make the Wall Street model a bit more relevant. Take the recent release of Apple's new iPhones, for example. Under Steve Jobs, Apple cultivated one of the strictest approaches to product secrecy in computer technology marketing. In many instances, it appears that new employees were first assigned to fake projects, just to ensure that they were trustworthy about keeping secrets about the products that Apple was developing. Tight security and policies limited the "need to know" scope of information distribution in Apple to a degree that would make an investment bank or hedge fund proud. Yet in spite of these efforts, there was ample information about the new iPhones available prior to its September launch, including thorough glimpses into service manuals for details on specifications. By the time that the launch event came around, little was left to the imagination.
someone happened to notice in an online Google video an unusual camera with a Nexus logo being used by a Google staffer taking photos of the event. Analysis of this photo was followed by analysis of other leaked photos, including a remarkably accurate 360-degree model of the expected phone. Additional videos, service manual leaks, postings of Nexus 5 cases and accessories as well as accidental (or not) postings of the actual phone on the +Google Play Store have revealed almost all of the key details of this device before a firm announcement date for the phone is even at hand.
The Cluetrain Manifesto book first advised us about Web-driven marketing nearly fourteen years ago, then the conversation about new products has shifted permanently to leak analysis as part of consumers' purchase decision process. As Google points out in its more recent Zero Moment of Truth view on marketing in an online era, these conversations have insinuated themselves into the traditional product lifecycle to the point that they have become a permanent and influential part of it. Consumers absorb data about potential purchases via trusted sources that include friends and social media connections and join in the conversation about new products well before they even approach a store shelf or online storefront. In other words, while traditional marketing is a component of a consumers' view of a branded product, the conversations about that product now affect its brand radically before it's even available for sale.
There's a risk/reward ratio in this leak management scenario that requires some careful analysis and research to substantiate its ultimate value, but this is only the quantification needed to gauge the exact details of how to manage a clear opportunity. I believe that focusing on this phenomenon and developing best practices for integrating into product and marketing lifecycle planning is going to have to be an essential tool in our management toolkits for many years to come. Glad to help you with this, as always.