Monday, October 1, 2007

The key to Emerging Media

Many brands ask themselves: Shall I utilize Emergine Media to communicate my message? Shall I put some money into Second Life, Widgets, Mobile? How about ipTV, Twitter, In-Game Advertising?

Surprisingly, there's an answer to each of these questions: If it's relevant and early in the game, go for it.

Let me explain: Relevance should be self-explanatory. In today's world of gazillion media options, numerous ways to block marketing messages and the semi-attentive consumer, advertising only works when it's relevant and significant for people.

Acura, Lexus, Infiniti, Mercedes-Benz ads work for you when you're in the market for a luxury car.
They might work ok if you're in the market for a car but can't afford a luxury car. Yet.
They don't work if you just bought a car two months ago.
That is true for TV, Print, Display Ads, Emerging Media.

I'm not here to say that mass reach is dead. But it's on life support. And the prognosis is not good. I'd give it a few more years in ICU until mass reach will expire. At one point, companies will not waste 90% of their budget on people that don't care about a vertical at that point. I'm never in the market for Budweiser beer, PizzaHut or McDonalds. And still, I just saw at least 5 commercials for these products while watching the NFL. Wasted money.

The chances are low I will ever download a McDonald's widget, visit the Pizzahut island on Second Life (is there one?) or click on a mobile ad from Budweiser. Even if I would, nothing could change my opinion about their brands and products. No matter what you do with your marketing dollars, I won't care.

So, Emerging Media in itself will not save your brand, improve brand perception or increase purchase consideration. Relevancy has to be coupled with early adoption of that specific Emerging Media tactic:

- CTR for the first flash banners was around 10%. Today, you're lucky if your campaign's CTR is above 0.3%.
- Video CTR's are through the roof now. Talk to me again in 2010. 0.3% might sound like a big success.
- Widgets are the keyword of 2007. As I wrote before, the window of opportunity is closing fast. Building a widget in 2006, gave you the opportunity to wow people, utilize their passion to spread the word and enjoy an outstanding ROI. Or, as some would call it, ROE - Return on Engagement. Today, you will have problems cutting through the clutter.
- Second Life: Almost 6 months ago, Second Life was the talk of the town and hyped on the front page of Business Week. Today, Second Life is mostly associated with demise. (Read my take on it. There's a lot of life left in Metaverses, once marketers understand them and don't apply first life marketing techniques to this new channel.)

Emerging Media is about early adoption. The first companies in Second Life got free PR, a lot of goodwill from SL'ers and outsiders and an immense ROI/ROE. Not happening anymore.
Building a valuable tool in the mobile world offered the same benefits in early 2007. You won't get the same performance data in 2008.

When Emerging Media turns into Traditional Media, it's only about significance and relevancy. It can happen very fast (Widgets) or very slow (Mobile). But once it happens, your benefits are fairly limited.

I have three words for you if you want to stay ahead in the Emerging Media game: Experiment, experiment, experiment.

Brands have to understand that more than 50% of your experimentation will not result in a huge success. Some of your experiments will be utter failures. But when you combine relevance and early adoption of emerging media, you have the chance for ROI/ROE you never dreamt of. Just ask Doritos. Dove. Or Burger King.

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