Consumer Control's A Given; Now What?
"Consumers have always been in control," observed Ian Rowden, executive vice president and chief marketing officer, Wendy's International. "The challenge for us is that they have so many more media options," he said during a panel dubbed "Consumer Empowerment: Out of Control."
Panelists advocated using alternative media options and strategies. "All of us are experimenting," commented Nick Utton, chief marketing officer, E*Trade Financial, who noted that 22 percent of his marketing budget is earmarked for "test and learn" programs, such as TiVo showcases that feature long-form advertising and promotion.
Vicki Lins, vice president-marketing and communications for Comcast Spotlight, touted the cable provider's video-on-demand offerings, boasting that more than 90 percent of the 10,000 hours per month of programming is ad-free. "There are new ways for us to deliver messages," on an opt-in basis, she said, adding that Comcast has three main strategies for new media--advertising within time-shifted VOD programming; sponsored content; and showcases, similar to the TiVo concept, that are essentially extensions of the 30-second TV spot or long-form story-telling. "We're giving advertisers a way to take baby steps," Lins said, adding: "If you haven't tested, you kind of already missed the boat. ...Advertisers need to get over the trepidation very quickly."
Lins cited General Motors' experience with a VOD showcase trial in Philadelphia, which received 125,000 views that amounted to 425,000 minutes watched. The trial represented the rough equivalent of seven 30-second TV spots, she noted.
Rosemarie Ryan, president of JWT New York, the sole agency representative on the panel, observed that clients are sharing their experiences with new media trials more than ever. She indicated that advertising creative is slowly enabling consumers to participate much more in message-making than ever before, and that storytelling is taking place across various ad mediums.
One of the things that discourages new media trials, panelists observed, is an outmoded return on investment model that's tied to a creaky financial model that doesn't reward risk-taking, Rowden noted. The Wendys' marketing chief didn't mince words with respect to agencies talking a good game about experimentation, "There's a gap between what people say they're going to do and what they actually do."
Scott Greenstein, Sirius Satellite Radio's president-entertainment and sports, seemed to concur: "The agency/client business model hampers trial of new media," he said. "The day is coming when marketers will go direct to media providers--it will be a direct relationship," Greenstein ominously predicted.
"If you're not willing to fail, you ain't going to make it," E*Trade's Utton said.