NEW YORK: Real-time marketing needs to take place within three hours and to be effective brands need to be consuming content as well as thinking about how to create it, an industry figure has argued.

Speaking to eMarketer, Noah Brier, co-founder of Percolate, a business helping brands create content at social scale, was clear on the limited period involved: "If it's older than three hours, it's not real time."

He was also forthright on where brands were failing. "To be a good content creator, you need to be a good content consumer," he said. "The challenge brands have right now is that they're not used to that. They're not used to consuming culture, content and ideas in real time."

Brier noted that brands' traditional marketing approach, involving focus groups and approval processes, both creative and legal, needed to change if they wanted to operate in real-time.

"Great content lives at the intersection of brand voice and cultural relevance, so it's about how you're putting systems in place to help understand what it really means to be culturally relevant," he stated.

Acknowledging that things could go wrong – "The most obvious risk, and what everyone is scared of, is when something goes out that wasn't approved" – he said that this was inevitable in a new medium, but added that social media was no longer experimental.

He also argued that for too long brands had simply handed over social media community management to the person who knew most about Facebook or Twitter.

"Community management needs to be integrated more into the rest of the organization," he declared, with the community manager "aware of the strategic and business goals of the brand".

A separate issue regarding real-time marketing was raised by Digiday, which wondered what impact this would have on the industry's various awards. It foresaw juries having to judge the creativity of a single tweet, and noted that agencies should be worried as most tweets were written in-house.

Data sourced from eMarketer, Digiday; additional content by Warc staff