Media Marketplace: A Mob of Meerkats

MEDIA MARKETPLACE: Media As User Experience with Jay SuhrInstead of behaving like a mob of meerkats, nervously scanning the post-recession landscape for the next scary thing to send us scurrying into our holes, it's time to bring the strategy and impact back to media. The best place to start isn't just spending more, but spending more intelligently, thinking of media as a user experience. (And not just flow charts and efficiencies.)

We're kicking off 2010 with a bullish recommendation for companies to get more strategic with their media. Joining the discussion is T3 Executive Media Director Bryan Noguchi.

Media as user experience
Be a curator, not a commoditizer.
Bryan Noguchi: I'm looking back at the last year and shaking my head about just how commoditized media has become and how so many clients have become fixated on CPMs and flow charts and little else. Very little stands out to me. It's probably worse for consumers.

Jay Suhr: I have started giving my newspapers and magazines a regular squeeze test and am amazed by how thin publications have become. Creative feels undernourished, as well, regardless of medium. It seems that in the recession, 2009 was a year of boring customers into buying our products.

BN: Many media properties have hit rock bottom on costs. Last year, you could feel the desperation as so much media money sat on the sidelines. Coming into 2010, imagine the impact a brand will gain if it's among the first to make a statement with media strategy and campaigns. It's going to take less budget to go big. The spend has to be smart and based on strategies shaped from the perspective of user experience. This means more unique and more engaging media opportunities that shift some of the investment to create real impact instead of just volume. We need campaigns that engage and reward people for investing their time.

JS: The creative has to follow in a way that is tuned for each audience. Like great user experience, creative and media become almost inseparable with each campaign element offering different information, amusement or something worth sharing along the way.

BN: A user experience media strategy works holistically. It's a blend of high-reach vehicles in traditional and digital, along with full integration of more personal media opportunities - social, mobile, blogs and direct. Brands need to get off the track of buying media just for volume and CPM and then tacking on social and viral programs as after-thoughts or, candidly, as cost savers.

JS: Social and viral media need to be viewed as a cost shift. Part of the investment shifts from media placement to relevant and consistent content creation as part of the nonstop dialog.

BN: The burning question remains: How do we measure all this? What is the value of a fan? How can I predict the roi of a social program? While I haven't seen anyone nail a singular metric, I do see things starting to come together. We've gotten good at building dashboards that bring together disparate media and user data into one place, but we're still developing the skill sets to "read the tea leaves," so to speak.

Magazine ereaders
Is there room or a need for a fourth screen?
JS: On a recent flight, I was coveting the Kindle being used by my seat-mate as I fished out my stack of magazines. One device that would mimic, but add to, the print reading experience would be intriguing and fun to play with creatively.

BN: We're curious and want to see how this plays out. With the exploding growth in smartphones, I wonder if people have need for a fourth screen.

CPM and nothing but CPM
Reach beyond the basics.
BN: This goes back to the bigger point. Agencies know how to drive efficiencies. It's a nonstop process, for us anyway. But tonnage does not equate to creating resonance with consumers. We need to get back to using media to reach and connect with our audiences.

JS: In other words, bring the creativity back.

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