Planning for What Matters Now

There’s an awful lot going on in digital media these days. From all the recent industry conferences and new research, we get a pretty clear picture of the state of the industry: excitement, discontent, anticipation, eagerness, and confusion. For this reason, I’ll take a “dipstick” measurement and touch upon some trends I’m seeing.

The Internet Allocation Model Resurges

Many of our clients are gearing up for the upfront season and 2005 planning (do we start earlier each year?). A number of them are applying renewed rigor and process around allocating Internet budgets. Some standard factors in this model include penetration levels across relevant demos; time spent with the medium; relative efficiency compared to other media choices; and degree of multimedia synergy. Though it’s impossible to make this an entirely codified process, it’s nice to see the subject finally get the attention it deserves.

Emerging Media Advertising Process (eMAP)

Most of our clients are asking the right questions. They’re asking us, as their strategic communications resource, to help them understand which emerging media platforms represent the greatest potential opportunity, both short and long term. The myriad of digital media choices can be quite daunting for clients and agencies alike.

We divide the digital world into five buckets:

  • Internet: the trend toward broadband access

  • Wireless: the trend toward rich media applications
  • Non-PC “Outernet” media: the trend toward fixed/mobile convergence
  • TV: the trend toward consumer control and interactivity
  • Gaming: the trend toward tribal/communal play

We then identify a variety of subsets within each bucket (e.g., Internet includes traditional online advertising and streaming video, and everything in between). Once we have a sense of all the potential platforms, we utilize a proprietary, codified process to examine a variety of marketing and business drivers.

These drivers are applied to the individual platforms, and we arrive at a matrix. The matrix helps us identify which emerging media platforms warrant immediate attention and testing and which we shouldn’t worry about for the upcoming year. We get lots of traction with this type of analysis.

On-Demand Metrics and Information

Those poor TV folks. They’re just now beginning to wrestle with some of the standardization issues that have plagued the Internet space for years. The American Association of Advertising Agencies’ (4A’s) Advanced Television Committee just submitted its recommended guidelines for on-demand television metrics. Review the recommended guidelines, and you’ll see language such as “click behavior,” “after-the-click behavior,” “verification of ad unit message delivery,” and “ad messaging viewing duration.” The similarities between this world and online are astonishing.

I was fortunate to attend a recent digital media conference that focused on all things digital and the effect digitization will have on the average consumer. It was refreshing to hear, “The conversion of our society to being an all-digital broadband culture is no longer in question.” Those of us who have been involved in the Internet space for some time are in a unique position to help guide the digital media landscape of the future. Let’s step up to the plate!

A parting thought from that conference. We discussed the three years since the burst of the technology bubble and the quiet transformation of the consumer’s relationship to communications, media, entertainment, and technology. Wirelessly connected homes enjoy unlimited content from DTV, HDTV, PDAs, laptops, PCs, set-top boxes, IM devices, and telephony systems. Then there are broadband mobile devices and fully loaded media-enabled cars. Consumers are now connected all the time.

The always-on connection to unlimited digital information and entertainment is probably the single biggest trend in our space today. Almost infinite supply has the potential to fully transform the supply-and-demand economics that drive the advertising business. I’m glad to be on the demand side of that equation.

Are other trends shaping the communications landscape over the next 12-18 months? Drop me a line. I’ll report back in my next column.

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