We have seen how the media landscape has evolved across the globe and how fragmentation is leading to further segmentation of already diverse audiences. I have tried to list down some elements of digital media that have now become the core pillars of any digital media initiative while planning and executing.
Innovation has become the most used and abused word in digital media planning these days. Everybody wants to be innovative, and why not? The important aspect to look at with innovation is to identify the platform for doing so. The proposed idea could be a creative innovation or a media innovation and there is huge difference in both. However, they are highly interconnected.
Creative innovation as the name suggests is all about bringing new formats of creative assets, or a new technology in existing forms. One of the obvious problems in executing creative innovations is the feasibility of implementation, especially when it involves new technology. The capability of media owners in execution decides the fortune of the ‘innovation’.
Media innovation is all about finding new ways of using the media space or creating a new media space altogether. We have seen how the media space has evolved, for it to be used for advertising purpose. Therefore, its very hard to differentiate ‘innovation’ from what it would have been an organic evolution of the space. For example, if you had run advertising in mobile apps five years back, we would have called it innovative, but today it’s a standard part of any mobile media plan. Creative and media services need to and are blending very fast with each other, which is essential for bringing about a true innovation.
Innovation suffers from another major bottleneck while selling the idea and that is resistance from advertisers. Digital media is always being looked at as a highly measurable media, and this measurability extends to ‘innovation’ before even executing it. Usually clients ask about the projected numbers as a result of the proposed idea, how it will achieve results that are quantifiable, what are the benchmarks, etc. First of all, if it’s an innovation, how can there be any benchmarks? Secondly, if clients have the appetite for innovation, then they should not be afraid to try it in absence of any benchmarks.
Innovation leads to impact. While we question the reasonability of clients’ doubts, another problem with executing innovations is the lack of farsightedness on agencies’ parts in the proposed idea. Advertisers always want to see some actionable results through the innovation and they are not doing it for the sake of doing it. Agencies will need to support the idea with scalability so that the overall media/marketing objectives are always in sight while ideating and execution. Most of the creative ideas fail purely because of the scalability issue. The long-term impact of the innovation on brand has to be kept in mind and should be visible as a result of the execution. It could be difficult to measure the impact in purely quantifiable terms but there are some soft parameters that can be deployed to gauge response and effect of the execution.
The importance of integration within digital media and with traditional media is ever increasing. With increasing media fragmentation, as it becomes harder for clients and agencies to choose an apt media, the need for integration is inevitable. The media needs to work harder and integration is a huge help to the cause. We have seen some real good examples of integrated marketing from across categories such as outdoor hoardings carrying a short code for SMS, tickers scrolling on TVCs to send SMSs or participate in online contests, print ads with QR codes to be scanned, so on and so forth. Integration remains the most favourite question of today’s marketer and agencies need to deliver what we call ‘integrated media plans’, which calls for a different kind of talent within the partner agencies and most agencies are moving towards it.
Investment in digital media has always been in debate and its not only about how much a brand should be investing in digital vis-à-vis other traditional media, but also about how much should be invested within digital media itself given the choices of display, SEM, mobile, and social media advertising. More choices signify more confusion in choosing the right option. While there is no exact formula of how much should be invested, there are some principles that digital can adopt from traditional media. For example, SOV (share of voice) can be translated to SOI (share of impressions) in digital media, especially SEM and display. Secondly, the ROI of digital media will always be the forefront of measurability for this medium. This has resulted in a number of metrics that can be used while buying digital media other than purely CPM or CPT viz. CPC, CPL, CPA, and now even CPF (cost per fan). We will talk more about ROI in the next section.
Rich customer insights have always been a very strong point for digital media both pre and post planning. It will continue to enjoy that status for years to come. No other medium can compete with digital when it comes to real consumer data. Whether it is the total number of search queries on Google about a brand as pre-planning insights or the number of repeat and late visitors on brand website post-execution kind of insights, both have equal importance. Web analytics post executions provide quite useful insights on how users behaved after interacting with the ads. Insights help the media planner to know the ROI of each media vehicle used in the digital media plan. These are also helpful in building benchmarks for future planning such as help in building a media mix of various digital media viz. display, search, mobile and social, etc. How much of what vehicle to be used can be answered if these insights are accumulated over time?
Involvement from all stakeholders while planning for digital media is an absolute necessity nowadays. Digital media is more of a mindset than anything else, and this needs to be shared jointly by the creative agency, media agency, PR agency, and the advertiser. These partners can no longer work in isolation in order to execute an effective digital media initiative. I still remember those days when clients used to brief the agencies and then left everything to them for delivering an effective campaign plan.
All partners need to learn the art of complementing each other with their respective skill sets. The boundaries of responsibility and accountability are blurring, and are blurring rapidly. Lack of support by one partner might result in the failure of the entire initiative or a campaign.
Interactivity was and will continue to be the differentiator for digital media from the rest of the media, although the ‘type’ of interactivity is changing as expected. We have witnessed discussions are not only about the ‘click’ but also the ‘touch’, especially for tablets and touch phones. Marketers and agencies are preparing themselves to deliver the interactive experiences across devices such as PCs, mobiles, tablets, and now even GPS/navigation devices. Given this scenario, content needs to be device agnostic and it calls for an effective content strategy and interactivity needs to be delivered across owned, earned, and paid media.