The Consumer Battle Rages on for Brands

  |  February 27, 2012   |  Comments

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.

The Pocket

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.

The Automobile

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

Chris Copeland is chief executive officer of GroupM Next, the forward-looking media innovation unit of GroupM. Chris is responsible for curating and communicating insight-focused media solutions across established and emerging platforms. Leveraging his multi-year experience with emerging media companies, Chris is tasked with stewarding GroupM Next in partnership with agency leadership from GroupM's four media marketing and marketing service agencies (Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare). The focus is participating with those companies leading changes that most impact consumer media consumption, brand favorability, and purchase behavior.

Guiding the Predictive Insights, Technology, Research, and Communications teams at GroupM Next, Chris is responsible for overseeing the amplification of insights into opportunities that directly benefit the business of GroupM agencies and their clients. GroupM is the world's largest media investment management group and the media holding arm of WPP. Together, GroupM agencies represent almost $30 billion in overall North American billings (RECMA).

Chris helped guide the development of GroupM Next, which was established to deliver the best thinking and new insights from within the GroupM community. The unit also focuses on technology innovation connecting all media channels, but especially, online, social, mobile, and addressable.

Chris was selected to lead GroupM Next after nine years of leading the search marketing practice within GroupM. Among his accomplishments are the development and integration of the global search marketing offering for GroupM agencies, GroupM Search, which managed $1.3 billion in search billings globally and grew to more than 1,000 search marketing strategists serving 40 countries. In 2009, Chris created the research division of GroupM Search and developed research studies that deepened the understanding of consumer behavior across search and social media for leading brands and garnered global traction - most notably: The Influenced: Social Media, Search, and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption; The Virtuous Circle: The Role of Social Media in the Purchase Pathway;and From Intent to In-Store: Search's Role in the New Retail Shopper Profile.

Chris entered the digital industry in 1996 when he joined search marketing agency WGI (later acquired by Tempus Group). He has been with the WPP and GroupM family of companies since 2000 when, recognizing search as an emerging media channel with incredible potential for brands, WPP acquired Tempus Group and CIA, and ultimately rebranded the search marketing agency as Outrider. As senior partner and managing director of Outrider, Chris delivered on GroupM's vision for the channel, leading the organization to 500 percent growth with global presence over five years, and establishing award-winning search marketing strategies that have become industry-wide best practices. In 2002, Chris successfully implemented the integration of search into the cross-channel media planning process at MEC, creating the first search marketing practice to sit within a media communications and planning company. In 2007, he guided the business expansion of search marketing practices into all GroupM agencies. In 2009, Chris was named CEO of GroupM Search, where he was responsible for driving global search strategy for the organization, while fostering the innovative application of search as an integrated channel. In his role, Chris also provided digital strategy counsel for clients, including AT&T, Dell, Audi, Volkswagen, and more.

Chris is an active member on advisory boards at the 4A's, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and I-COM. He is a frequent speaker in global forums discussing the digital marketplace and how the space is evolving, and serves as a regular resource to national and industry press. Chris contributes editorial commentary regularly to Advertising Age, ClickZ, MediaPost, and In fall 2013, Chris was honored as an inductee into the ClickZ Digital Hall of Fame.

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