Two Different Worlds, No More

Despite the headline, this is not a commentary on the Middle East -- which makes me one of the few people not publishing uninformed opinion. (I was particularly fascinated to see New York's infamous, former Governor Spitzer weighing in on Egypt policy from his new platform at CNN, all the while leveraging for us his extensive foreign policy experience. But I digress.)

No, this is about something else -- something that may finally be taking shape.

Some years ago, the visionary CEO of a direct marketing agency approached a speaker's podium with the song, "Two Different Worlds" playing in the background.

His message was simple: that direct-to-consumer marketing rests primarily on the principle of relevance -- and that principle was going to be increasingly important as mass media platforms gave way to more specialized digital platforms with unique communications characteristics and attributes. But he wasn't talking to direct marketers; he was talking to major brand marketers. And this wasn't two years ago, but 15.

One of the lessons learned from a journey beginning in direct marketing and moving to major brand marketing relates to the strengths and shortcomings of each discipline. The world of direct has been and continues to be primarily (though often brilliantly) tactical. It should not be so, but the net result of years of A/B split testing leaves one conditioned to focus laser-like on the details of each effort -- details resulting in the clarifying accountability of campaign ROI.

Conversely, in my experience there are few better strategists in marketing than brand managers. They have to take a longer-term view of what Joel Tucciarone calls the "perceptual and relational equity" resulting from their efforts. But brand managers too often abdicate to the black box of marketing mix modeling (lately more impressively called econometric modeling) to dictate key tactical decisions. And if you understand the way the math works for these models, you'll understand why they rarely result in recommendations of new tactics. Two different worlds.

What marketing requires today, and what it will achieve, is convergence -- not of devices, but of disciplines. It is what the consumer demands of us, and it is what the digital platforms of the MediaTech industry offer us: the best of these two different worlds.

The process of "marketing brands directly," which is how we repositioned direct-marketing principles when introducing them into CPG companies, effectively utilizes both sets of skills, with data-based and insight-driven brand strategy directing the "test, measure and refine" tactical planning approaches for customer relationship marketing programs for example, or the introduction of branded, personalized e-commerce platforms like My M&M's.

And it's about to get better. With the growth of online video, and all things video, there is growing momentum to take a fresh look at the potential of "new again" platforms -- e.g., ad-supported video on demand. Why VOD? Because it is a classic consumer- in-control environment, retains all the advantages of television's sight and sound, and is poised to add the "online" capabilities of dynamic insertion, addressability and interactivity. Targeted, on demand, responsive... television. Marketing directly. Two different worlds becoming one?

What do you think?

Tags: television, tv
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