A Media reverie

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I am beginning to notice perceptible shift in enterprise marketing initiatives.  While attending a product launch event of Schneider Electric last week, the CMO introduced me to his new media coordinator, a young man possibly in his late thirties – plucked recently from his media service provider.  The fact that his position was newly created underscores the significance attached to bringing media services back in-house by large enterprises.

Ahead lay a long drive back from the event. I’d better use the time to reflect on the changing dynamics in media business – or is it business media?

To stay ahead of the constant innovation in advertising, the best marketers invest in having their media capability in-house. They’re bringing in people who come either from the media business or from the agency world to advise their brands and marketing departments. They’re also creating new relationships with their media partners to get earlier and better access to innovation and knowledge. Together they push their agencies much harder than they ever have to ensure that they’re getting the best access to talent and know-how.

What else do I notice? The best marketers are developing planning and learning processes that are much more dynamic and flexible than they ever have been before. They’re moving away from traditional planning cycles, which typically were anywhere between six and 18 months for media strategy, planning, buying, and collapsing them into much shorter increments with much more flexible budgeting. This is happening in part because the current media environment enables immediate feedback from the consumer and there’s much more opportunity to innovate, refine, and create better campaigns than was previously.

Is it because of the impact of digital media that is more interactive while being less intrusive?  In a way, yes –  as it puts the consumer in much better control. If remote helped him zap commercials by a button click, today digital media gives him greater power.  I think that there are going to be some environments in which the consumer is going to be able to tune out advertising entirely. But that’s a business model that’s based on the consumer’s commitment to a subscription.  Well but most consumers aren’t willing to make that full commitment, to provide enough revenue through subscriptions to entirely fund the creation of content. They’re willing to consume content and programming that are ad-supported. The catch is that they must deem it relevant; for instance, if it allows consumers to ‘opt in’ based on their interests, and if it is appropriate to the media platform, rather than, say, a huge video clip that overwhelms the consumer’s mobile phone. Advertising today has to either be part of the consumer’s entertainment experience or sit alongside it in a way that’s meaningful to the consumer.

So how do you `engage’ them? The trick is in finding the right balance between traditional and digital media. They have to understand how the brand is relevant to consumers in those media environments and then find the best channels for the brand and the message so that they can drive engagement, not just awareness. And marketers and advertisers need to understand engagement as meaningful time spent with the brand and its messaging in a way that’s more measurable and, ideally, more interactive with the consumer. Those are behaviors that broadcast media, even if they can deliver reach, typically can’t leverage.

My driver tells me we’re home.  I will try and enlarge its scope after my next reverie.

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