The first school of thought is "The Basics," used by the folks who do search, affiliates and general display. They do it efficiently and it works well at achieving core business objectives, but there's not a lot of risk and there's not a lot of reward beyond the forecasted expectations. The second is what I lovingly refer to as "The Triumvirate," and it refers to the domination of three primary vehicles that work exceptionally well when they are coordinated properly: TV, online video and social.
When properly planned, these three vehicles are powerful. TV is, and will be for the foreseeable future, the primary medium with which to generate consumer awareness, but online video and social media are becoming the primary outlet for consumer interaction and the strongest support vehicles that TV will ever have. According to a recent report from Nielsen (A2/M2 Three Screen Report, 1st Quarter 2009), there are 284 million people watching TV at home in the U.S., and 131 million people watching video online. The difference is that TV growth was only about 1.9% year over year, while online video growth was closer to 53% year over year. This becomes very interesting when you also realize that people are starting to watch more long-form video content online, moving away from the "snacking" that was the previously dominant form of online video interaction. If you couple this with the growth of social media usage from 2008-2009, you end up with a very interesting strategy for launching and seeding messaging to an audience that is highly engaged with a dynamic form of media that achieves the sight, sound and motion of video with the social and viral components of online.
For the Triumvirate to work strategically, you need to think of your messaging platform as a tripod, with TV, online video and social media as the legs. In the old days you could use TV alone to build your brand and convey your message, but TV is now just as cluttered an environment as the rest of the landscape, due to fragmentation of stations and audience. TV cannot sustain an ad campaign solo anymore, and the tripod cannot stand with only one or two of the legs in place; you need all three.
TV provides reach and impact. Online video provides additional reach, additional impact and a component of interactivity. Social media provides reach, frequency, and the implicit approval of other consumers who support and follow a brand, as well as another opportunity for syndicating a message beyond a Web site and into mobile platforms.
I would argue that in today's environment brand marketers could effectively generate an audience using ONLY these tools and foregoing search, display and other formats altogether -- if they have the nerve and the buy-in internally to give it a try.
The Triumvirate is the core of a strategy that can be effective, provided you have understanding of the audience and their motivations, and have developed creative that resonates with them. Unlike search and even display, creative MUST be on target here. In search and display, you have more flexibility to change messaging at the drop of a hat, so you have more forgiveness regarding the creative. Online video can be changed out, but once something is launched in the social media world, it can become viral -- so it must be well-thought-out and on-target from the beginning. Once it's out there, it's no longer yours to control, so you need to get it right the first time! Of course, I would always recommend that you look at The Basics and The Triumvirate together as differing stages of the strategy, with one providing a baseline and the other providing opportunity for growth and expansion. When you're planning a digital effort, you want to know what will work, and create a line item for what may provide extra "oomph" for your campaign. If you develop a plan that utilizes both of these in unison, you can get a stronger return for your marketing spend.
Do you agree? Do you have any examples that you can share? If so, let us know by posting your response on the Spin Board!