But the battlefields are changing.
There's a constant battle taking place between brands as they move to inhabit a larger share of mind space of current and potential consumers. This battle starts before most consumers ever realize their attention and affection are being fought over, which makes me think of something Irwin Gotlieb, chairman of GroupM, likes to say: "If the first time someone sees an ad for a BMW is when they can afford to buy one, then it is too late." Today, the battle continues, but the battlefields are changing. How so? For more than half a century, the battle has been televised or, more appropriately, it has taken place on television. Fast forward - now, the battle has spread and the fight for the consumer can be found on three unique fronts.
The Living Room
Television is not dead; it is far from it. However, the rise of social media and multi-platform interactivity has transformed the way people consume television. While TV is not dead, it has never been less of the story than it is today. Cables and boxes that deliver a myriad of experiences now control the living room. Brands continue to broadcast their messages into this space, but have more options than ever before. Addressable TV is changing the relevancy and targeted options for advertisers. Smart and social TVs are transforming the consumption patterns of the audience, and devices such as the Xbox are bringing entertainment into the living room while eliminating the over-air broadcast models that advertisers and consumers have used for decades. All of this does not even begin to touch on the introduction of tablets and applications, such as Yahoo's IntoNow, into the living room to enhance the experience. The greatest challenge for advertisers is that while each of these options present advancement over the long-standing model, they do so with multiple models and fragmentation becoming the norm, requiring greater investments in media to be successful.
There can be no further debate about the arrival of mobile devices as a focal point of consumer behavior. In short order, the phone functionality of such devices has become secondary to all of the other smart components available to consumers. There are clear commerce and connectivity plays at hand for brands. Local services continue to be amplified with daily deals and consumer reviews shaping customer engagement. At the least, brands need an immediate mobile strategy that brings their presence from the desktop web forward, but they also need to begin to understand their audience and link experiences across platforms for better campaign connectivity and efficiency.
In the last decade, a rebirth in Detroit has begun based, in no small part, on an embrace of technology as the centerpiece of the automobile experience. Ford has clearly been a leader in the space, but the focus at CES this year saw technology and automotive manufacturers coming together on the usage of technology to enhance and improve the automotive experience. For many brands, the application is still a ways out, but the car as an app environment is closer than most think. Brands have relied on outside influences in advertising, specifically out of home, to reach mobile consumers. Those days are soon to be augmented with a richer, more targeted opportunity to be part of the fabric of a consumer's daily experience inside their vehicle.
The brand battle for consumer consideration is never ending. But, that is not to suggest that the battle itself has not changed. In fact, the landscape has altered significantly with technological advances. With each of the three battlegrounds discussed above, there are opportunities for brands. The true brand warriors will move quickly with measured investment to stake claim in the space. In those actions, consumers will see which brands understand them, and which will show up after the fact to try and buy their affection.
Chris Copeland is chief executive officer of GroupM Next.
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