New media is filled with competitive noise, comprising new technologies, companies, and evolved consumer media habits. This noise spectrum causes our phones to ring with promises of delivering the next best media offering at a price that’s more efficient than any current media buy. But as you know, this often isn’t the case. We’re continually pitched new ideas and opportunities enjoyed by early adopters that don’t necessarily have the scale to appeal to a strategic media plan.
Your job as marketers is to market. Our jobs as marketing consultants and agency types is to inform you of the evolving landscape and changes on the horizon. I have a slide of a comet I share before I get into any quarterly new media trend reports. I use the image to explain to clients that we’re riding in the head of the comet, and it’s our job to break through the fields of new ideas and opportunities. Once we do this, we can distill the opportunities into emerging trends we can present back and explain through the use of scenarios and our persona process. In short, it’s our job to listen, distill, and organize trends and patterns.
While we do our fair share of passing on new media opportunities, we still take the time to listen to the idea and understand its genesis. Clearly, there must be some opportunity or reason that excited the minds of those who developed the presented technology. It’s this insight that excites us the most. If the reason is compelling enough for someone to start a business, it should be discussed and shared to open our minds to what the future might bring.
The next time you find yourself in a discovery meeting about a new media concept or opportunity or with a new media partner, take a step back and disassociate the tactics from the insight that drives the opportunity:
Ask why. I have a client I see every 90 days for a one-on-one session regarding new media shifts. We go through new media demonstrations, and every 10 minutes she asks the same thing: “Chad, why would anyone want to do this?” Instead of asking me why this particular social network is better than the one she heard about 90 days ago, she asks me why someone would elect to spend time to participate in this particular behavior as opposed to doing something else. I like that she’s more concerned about behavior than the media property. This insight on what motivates someone is more interesting to her than the current site du jour in a particular category.
Ask who. Who uses the product you’re talking about? Ask the developer. Technology developers are always looking for feedback and they can only get it from one place: their users. They know who they are and can probably tell you why they’re using that particular product. You won’t get demographics. Instead, you’ll most likely get users who form a community around an unmet need. This is a great way to get some deeper insight into shifting media consumption habits and a great opportunity to get a little gift to understand why someone may shift her behavior.
Ask what’s next. The first one in the pool isn’t always the best swimmer. Everyone learns from their competition and a crowded marketplace. Rich media and Flash ad units served a great purpose over the years, and now we have Google Gadgets as an advertising platform that can offer a compelling marketing experience. This is clearly a result of a marketplace evolution.
Don’t say goodbye. Keep in touch and follow the changes. Chances are if the business model or content strategy changes, it reflects marketplace conditions or consumer behavior. When you learn of the changes, you can probably draw some conclusions on marketplace dynamics.