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Introducing Business Impact: Special Report on Digital Marketing

Each month, Business Impact will roll out a special report on an urgent topic, and each business day we’ll bring you a piece of the big picture. October’s topic is digital marketing, and we are focusing our coverage on a theme: “technologies of persuasion.” We’ll explore how companies are fusing technology with psychology to influence brand choice, to alter behavior, and to change attitudes.

Welcome to Business Impact. This is Technology Review’s new premium publication, with a new issue to be published online over the course of each month.

The name Business Impact suggests our wider mission. We’re broadening our coverage of innovation by following technology beyond the labs and into your hands–to the point of impact, where an innovation can become a strategic tool for transforming a company, disrupting a market, or creating an entirely new industry.

Business Impact will tell big stories, but in a different way. At the start of each month, the reimagined business section of our website will begin to roll out a special report on an urgent topic.

Our first topic is digital marketing, and we are focusing our coverage on a more specific theme: “technologies of persuasion.” How does technology persuade us? We’ll explore how companies are fusing technology with psychology to influence brand choice, to alter behavior, and to change attitudes.

Multimedia

  • Welcome to Business Impact

Each business day will bring out a different view of the bigger picture, in the form of a feature, an analysis piece, a profile, or an interview, often with video and other visuals. The story lineup for the month is set in advance, and you can scroll the running table of contents in our right-hand column for upcoming daily features.

Our publishing model is simple. The daily content is free. But at the end of the month, the entire month’s stories will be gathered up, designed, and packaged as a premium digital publication that will be sold for a fee thereafter.

In short, the business impact of technology is an exciting new editorial realm for Technology Review. Business Impact is about new business models, about user-driven innovation, and about new sets of winners and losers across all industries. This is where technology leaps up to press our internal buttons of greed and fear. We’ll cover strategies for generating revenue, driving profits, acquiring customers, gaining market share, obtaining capital, achieving sustainability, and improving lives.

We chose digital marketing for our first issue because it’s become Topic A across the technology and business worlds. We’ve become a screen-obsessed culture. Our waking hours are spent skipping from the desktop to the laptop to the tablet to the smart phone to the HDTV to the screens that beam imagery wherever we go.

New research from the market research firm Ipsos shows that consumers now spend more time interacting with media than pursuing any other activity, including working, studying, or sleeping. Nearly a full hour has been added to an average American’s screen time in just the past two years. Increasingly, we are multitasking–Facebooking while watching TV, tweeting at work. “Because of technology, we’re compressing more activities into our time” says Ipsos president Bruce Friend. The effect, he says, is something like a 30-hour day.

Engaging with customers across all their screens is both the new art and the new science. One of our interview subjects puts it well: “Consumers are going through a radical transformation in how they interact with media and how they connect with brands,” says Rob Master, U.S. media chief for consumer brands giant Unilever. What does the future look like? “We don’t know,” he says. “We’re living through a modern day Mad Men.”

Of the billions being spent in the digital realm, much of the money is going toward rapid-fire experimentation and attempts to discover answers to the big questions: How can you tell a story that leaps out at audiences across different screens and devices? How can you measure a return on investment across the new channels? How can you avoid damage to your brand on social networks? Why are people behaving in strange new ways online?

As we try to provide some answers, we hope you’ll join the conversation along the way by posting your comments and ideas. Again, welcome to Business Impact.

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