Commentary

Relationships And The Progressive Digital Mix

During tough market times, we talk a lot about balancing the core media and marketing mix and still keeping room for innovation. There is a certain discipline to making the reliable, known mix deliver while exploring new terrain. So, in that mindset, spending may plateau or decline for a while, in certain "emerging" areas, as we straddle reliability and expansion. It's as though we are harnessing the attitude of the progressive, integrated plan to make sure it stays reasonably within our control. Within the ambitious integrated digital plan, there's a lot going on, a lot to understand.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit in on industry sessions devoted to using applications within the marketing mix. Even for these times, the sessions were remarkably well attended and exuberant. But beyond dishing on the razzle-dazzle, the latest in cool, indispensable applications, the conversation was really focused on clearly understanding the role they can and cannot play within marketing mix. And, of course, if you were working with clients, helping your clients understand these relationships.

This sequence of industry conversations got me thinking on all the relationships that exist within today's digital marketing plans that are critical to understand at a more sophisticated level. When we talk about leveraging a mix, we often keep it at a very high level, simply making the point that diversification is a good thing. But, there is more to it, if you are focused on getting the most out of a more progressive plan, one that blends the tried and true with the new.

How Applications Relate

Unleashing an application is not an off-the-cuff determination. We need to understand its relationship to our objectives in a very specific way. An app may or may not be right for the brand, depending on our specific response goals. So, understanding the relationship between utility -- having consumers "do" something -- and conversion metrics within our business is key, before even getting into this.

Granted, our branding can be enhanced by the popularization gained through the steam of a hot-performing application, but the true return on investment needs to come in volume of action. That's what these are good for -- driving response.

Speaking of popularization, there also is the relationship of the savvy app to the social graph. How the app gets leveraged to bolster the spread of earned media across digitized social circles is a dynamic to understand, predict and harness within the planned approach. It is clear that some of this can be modeled and some is an absolute wildcard. Once again, we have that scintillating blend of plan and experiment. And, as anyone in this realm will tell you, there are metrics -- but there is a long way to go on meaningful measurability.

The Coupling of Search & Social

Chatting on the social graph got me thinking about the intricate relationship between Social and Search. This is one of those conversations that tends to hover at the high level, as we think about what it really means. "Search and Social are SO related!" But it is in fact one of the most exciting and expandable relationships in the mix right now.

Over the years, the Search industry has done many things for the interrelation factor -- encouraging the serious marketer to understand the relationship between marketing message and consumer demand; the landing page mechanic and path to conversion; inbound links and authority; natural, paid and market share; density and performance. The list goes on and on.

But, one of the most positively explosive relationships on the forefront is this one between Search and Social, fueled by the interplay of social networks, social media and content production. The shrewd digital marketer knows how to leverage production and distribution of content and video assets; favoriting and digging; view or download volume; ranking and sharing -- to signal authority and popularity to the engines.

Or, at least, they understand these relationships and create, distribute and market with these in mind. The knowledge that the Oz of Search respects popularity, authority in the social sphere and keeps a beat on it is an empowering notion. This is a high-exchange relationship between consumers, media and technology that is driving some of the most informative progress in our industry right now.

As with all relationships, when it comes to the progressive digital mix, there is a lot at play -- and often stuff that is out of our line of site. Some of these things, like tying use to objective, are straightforward and some are more intricate. But, when the stakes are high and the market is stressed, it's worth more than a passing glance at the relationships driving your marketing and media plan.

We'd be wise to get in there and make sure we really understand. A pretty plan with lots of moving parts does us no good without the inside view. As a woman I know who was breaking down a somewhat lame romantic relationship recently said: Understanding trumps affection.

2 comments about "Relationships And The Progressive Digital Mix ".
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  1. Kevin Dwinnell from Brand Thunder, August 17, 2009 at 2:17 p.m.

    Kendall: I like the overview of the app and the clarification that it has a role within the marketing mix (it's a tactic, and a potentially powerful one). I'd also define the term app in the generic sense. You can have a Facebook apps, web widgets, desktop widgets, toolbars and custom branded browsers -- all customized for your brand and integrated with your content.

    They will each have their own strengths, and appeal to a segment of your audience. They are also not mutually exclusive. There are providers for each category of app that can make it a low level of effort for the brand and giving their customer base the option to choose any or all of them for their use.

    In an environment resources are scarce and revenue is at a premium, this is an area for marketers to participate.

  2. Bj Cook from Digital Operative, Inc., August 18, 2009 at 12:11 p.m.

    Another great article Kendall. I remember writing an article about 3 years back now on the inter-connectivity of search and social. When you use search as the foundation for your digital marketing you see that it sparks much of the other channels and tactics. I like that you are asking people to go beyond the mere 40,000 feet view of their marketing plan wrapped up in pretty templates and dig into the true relationships between not just the target audience and marketing mix, but the marketing mix itself. What happens when you build an app and you can tie it to SEO? What happens when you create a paid search campaign tied to a microsite that lets you download an app? Many of these choices I feel come from actually doing a lot of the hands on work as well. As more DO'ers grow into VP, SVP, CMO roles; the mix will only get more integrated and from a cross platform perspective, devices enable "environmental marketing mixes." But that's another article.

    cheers
    BJ

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