United We Stand: Cross-Media Platform Packaging Revisited

Last spring, I wrote about the idea of planning and buying cross-media platform packages. I made the point that few media conglomerates were using cross-media platforms in their proposals to address a client’s needs. At the same time, few agencies knew just how to ask for them or what to ask for.

The reason for this has been that online media and all things interactive were kept separate from other forms of media. Sellers and buyers felt that online and interactive was a balkanized fiefdom within a larger, traditional agency or media sales environment, or it was the purview of an independent interactive shop.

But all this is starting to change.

I just recently tried to buy a combined media package from Discovery Channel/Discovery Online, only to find that the program I was interested in was sold out. And when was it sold? It was sold upfront during the cable campaign. That’s right, the company packaged the online and offline components together for clients engaged in both media.

More and more, multimedia companies are going to have to move in this direction, and let me tell you why.

First of all, as I mentioned when I initially broached this topic, with all of the media consolidation taking place, there has to be value to the consumer, that is, the media buyer. There needs to be an advantage to having such a wide variety of media under one roof.

Second, if we are to avoid the commodification of media, which I addressed in this column two weeks ago, there needs to be some kind of qualitative advantage to the media I’m using so that it’s affordable to vendors. Let’s face it, if online is being sold everywhere at a $.50 or $1 CPM, it won’t exist for long. This is true for all other media as well. This qualitative advantage needs to come in the form of creative ideas involving cross-promotion.

Third, if you want to substantively meet your business objectives by targeting a select audience, you’ve got to use multiple points of contact. We are no longer a world where an individual sits in front of the same television network for hours on end. There is no more media or vehicle loyalty.

In addition, attention deficit disorder is the official affliction of the 21st century. I can’t make a significant impact by communicating through one vehicle anymore. I need to use multiple vehicles across multiple media to create a “surround sound” marketing environment that will affect the select audience in a meaningful way.

Fourth, if web sites are going to have any chance at all of surviving as ad vehicles, they aren’t going to do it alone. Again, as I alluded to above, we are a fragmented society. It’s no longer about demographics and hit TV shows. It’s about birds of a feather flocking together for only a few moments at a time.

The web is not a space where a whole bunch of folks lurk for hours on end. Sure, gaming sites and eBays have significant “hang times,” or session lengths, if you will, but that’s not enough on which to build a business. Individuals hop all over the place, making it difficult for sites to target the same audience. If sites can’t become part of a larger media operation or demonstrate that they are a valuable part of the media mix beyond just a direct-response vehicle for the impulse purchaser, there won’t be an industry of online media and advertising.

With all the bad news we’ve had for the last few weeks, what with the hits that 24/7 Media, Engage, and other reputable interactive advertisers have taken, it seems like the present is bleak, and the future is an abyss. But these are just temporary “digital doldrums,” as John Durham of Winstar Interactive calls them. The complete value of online advertising has yet to demonstrate itself. One of the things it needs to do is instigate the evolution that all media should be going through, which is to work in concert with other media to benefit the client rather than be an independent operation just selling space.

“To understand this fully, one must transcend from the duality of ‘for’ and ‘against’ into one organic unity which is without distinctions.” — Bruce Lee (1940-1973)

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