Media evolution gains pace

09 November 2010

NEW YORK: Marketers need a new "vocabulary" and understanding of media to thrive in the digital age, a study by McKinsey has argued.

The consultancy suggested paid-for platforms such as TV and radio spots, billboards, print ads, sponsored search and online display have dominated modern media plans.

"This market is far from dying; options for marketers are expanding exponentially with the emergence of more targeted cable TV, online display placement … online video and search marketing," it said.

Owned media - like catalogues, websites, stores and email newsletters - is similarly still a vital part of the communications mix.

A commonly-used third category is earned media, where consumers voluntarily promote goods and services through word of mouth, online reviews and alternative means.

Coffee house chain Starbucks has been particularly successful here, securing over 10m Facebook fans and encouraging customer feedback from the My Starbucks Idea branded online community.

Honda, the Japanese automaker, also saw 630,000 people register to receive news regarding the launch of its CR-Z following a tie-up with Web 2.0 portal Mixi, resulting in 4,500 pre-orders and 10,000 first month sales.

McKinsey stated two mediums must supplement the "paid, owned, earned" formula, one of which is "sold" media, in a simplistic form seeing retailers sell ad space to brands on their e-commerce hubs.

Looking beyond this, Johnson & Johnson created BabyCenter, hosting complementary and competing products, yielding revenues and further benefits.

"The presence of other marketers makes the site seem objective, gives companies opportunities to learn valuable information about the appeal of other companies' marketing, and may help expand user traffic for all companies," McKinsey said.

The second emerging trend is "hijacked media", when individuals, activists and equivalent groups spread negative opinions concerning a company or its products.

Domino's experienced a PR crisis after a video showing two employees apparently contaminating food appeared on YouTube, while Greenpeace leveraged social media to question Nestlé's sourcing of palm oil.

Equally, however, Toyota managed to mitigate the fallout from high-profile vehicle recalls through a well-orchestrated campaign using properties like Twitter and Digg.

Integration may blur the lines between these areas, as demonstrated by JetBlue utilising paid media to raise awareness of its Twitter account, which has 1.6m followers and generates considerable buzz.

"This approach has given JetBlue the ability to deliver timely coupons at a minimal variable cost, reducing its reliance on expensive paid media while fostering closer relationships with consumers," McKinsey said.

New publishing models are inspiring parallel shifts, such as Nissan and Dell developing a talkshow hosted by Elvis Costello on the Sundance Channel, featuring "blended ads" and accessing a key demographic.

Applications are also increasingly important, with eBay's Red Laser app displaying a list of auction prices if shoppers scan barcodes using a phone.

Personal relevance constitutes another major change, and McDonald's in Japan is exploiting Twitter and blogs to champion new products and deals, alongside stimulating diners to upload their views.

"While this fan promotion is sometimes spontaneous, it's often facilitated and encouraged by providing these fans with free meals," McKinsey said.

In concluding McKinsey, posited that adapting to the evolving climate requires a highly diverse skill-set.

"This goal calls for teams that can design campaigns for a number of very different kinds of channels, from TV to social networks to search optimisation," the company said.

"Data must be used more effectively to reach decisions and to apply them. Technology must make the spending of each dollar more efficient in the face of greater complexity."

Data sourced from McKinsey; additional content by Warc staff