This was a commentary piece I wrote for MediaPost. It was published a few weeks ago. I thought it would be appropriate to add here…For the record – I am not bashing emerging media, rather the opposite, as I am a strong proponent of emerging channels. But I speak to “the blur” that marketers have trouble keeping up with, and their desire to move faster than their ability allows, which often prevents getting the basics right. Enjoy!
TEN YEARS AGO, APPLE WAS going out of business, auctions were for the rich, and Google was merely a sound a baby made. You got phone numbers from the phone book, and driving directions from gas station attendants. Travel agents booked flights and earned commission for it. MTV and HBO were the places to watch videos and movies, viral referred to viruses and YouTube wasn’t even an idea yet. Let’s face it – the media landscape is changing faster than most marketers can keep up with.
So why do marketers always seem to try to latch onto the newest emerging channel or opportunities prior to perfecting their approaches to existing digital media?
It boggles my mind when a marketer considers focusing the majority of their efforts on mobile, podcasts, word of mouth, or virtual worlds, when they have not yet figured out how to properly market on targeted content sites, blogs or social networks, which all offer scale and levels of accountability.
I thought we all understood that there are no more silver bullets. Of course there are great opportunities within the emerging sub-channels, but at what opportunity cost? Existing digital media channels provide marketers with the opportunity to effectively engage targeted consumers, at scale, like never before – and the industry is eagerly listening to consumer and marketer feedback in a quest to improve the media offerings.
After all, as more major advertisers sit out of the upfront and continue to shift budgets digitally, it presents an unprecedented market opportunity. Publishers are beginning to realize that the pre-roll format needs an upgrade. Rich media offers us the ability to create marketing experiences that come to life and influence our targets.
Additionally, much of the recent industry consolidation and mergers will create new targeting capabilities and accountability that smart marketers will use to refine digital efforts to yield increasing effectiveness.
Digital budgets should be allocated to maximize impact within channels that balance reach, contextual relevancy, engagement and media cost. A pre-planned measurement approach will help systematically analyze the opportunities that are most effective, and the end result can yield a marketer-specific or product-specific model that can be applied to future buys within both existing as well as emerging channels.
The medium may sometimes be the message, but not in a vacuum.
All of the above being said, emerging channels do represent amazing opportunities for marketers who are properly invested in digital media and looking for new ways to reach, engage and influence consumers.
All emerging channels are ripe with accountability issues, but are effective at tapping into consumer trends. As consumers have gained some control over their media experiences, it is important to reach them when, where and in sync with how they consume media.
But let’s allow some of the sub-channels to fulfill a gestation period prior to riddling the channels with hype-driven marketing. Social media has already seen some of the consumer backlash due to us marketers flocking to the trend.
It’s an exciting time to be in the media profession, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As an industry, we unfortunately have a track record of doing so.