A Gold Medal in Convergence

I haven’t watched this much TV in years. Despite my original, lukewarm attitude toward watching the Olympic games, I was smitten. In my opinion, all the press and praise for the Olympics coverage was well deserved. I can’t remember an Olympics as engaging and interesting to watch. We had two clients that were “rings sponsors.” They fully utilized the cross-channel capabilities offered by NBC. Although the trend toward simultaneous multimedia consumption isn’t a new phenomenon, we’re only starting to harness the power multimedia synergies can create.

Bill Havlena, vice president of Dynamic Logic, agrees. He stated, “Advertisers are interested in becoming more synergistic. They are producing ads that complement each other across various media, and they want to be able to look at the performance of their ads across various media types in a comparable way.”

Those in interactive marketing are likely familiar with the Cross-Media Optimization Studies (XMOS) that have been trotted around the community for the past two-plus years. These studies show how brand-oriented advertisers can best blend online with other media to achieve optimal results.

The original cross-media studies were based on pre- and post-brand effect. They were measured using control and test cells exposed to an online questionnaire. These studies show media’s ability to work in concert to move brand-health measures including unaided brand awareness, purchase intent, message association, and brand favorability. Our agency has conducted no fewer than a dozen of these studies and showed in each instance a coordinated media mix works.

The next evolution of these cross-media studies revealed the link between actual sales and multi-media efforts. MSN recently sponsored a large industry initiative in this area, focusing on consumer-packaged goods. It’s now turning its attention to other vertical industries, such as retail and travel. We’re excited to participate in this initiative. We still have a few somewhat skeptical clients.

During the Olympics coverage, cross-media synergies were optimized in two distinct ways. In the more common execution, NBC continually directed viewers to the Web for more information on a particular subject or behind-the-sport-type features. Once at the Web site, there were many cues to direct the consumer back to the broadcast experience rather than “lose them” to the Web. I find this particularly effective. It should be viewed as a best practice going forward.

The other way advertisers sought to take advantage of multimedia synergies was recently made popular Mitsubishi’s seewhathappens.com campaign. The Mitsubishi campaign starts with a traditional 30-second execution. At the moment of climax, viewers are directed to the Web to “seewhathappens” next. According to Mitsubishi, this has been a particularly effective form of cross-channel marketing. A tremendous number of consumers “closed the loop.”

The Gap executed a similar effort during the Olympics telecast by airing an unbranded spot ending with an intriguing URL: www.howdoyou.com. When users visited the site, they got information on a marketing tour the Gap is creating around its “How Do You Wear It?” campaign featuring Sarah Jessica Parker. I was intrigued enough by the commercial to visit the site, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Arguably, the most mysterious execution during the Olympics was for a new Pontiac. The Pontiac G6 featured a series of 15-second spots that never really show the whole car nor the purpose of the spot. All it does is create intrigue and suspense, leaving viewers with www.first-everg6.com. Again, I was drawn in. This time, I was a little disappointed. Though the car looked interesting, it wasn’t worth the build-up created in the spot.

Even outside Olympics coverage, we’re seeing this phenomenon take off. Mysterious URLs such as www.ipodyourbmw.com and www.neverfollow.com are just two examples. Can you think of other examples of ways marketers are maximizing the synergies of online and offline media? Are other unique and intriguing URLs being created by marketers to support an overall campaign?

Let me know.

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