Commentary

Riffing Off The Familiar

Most of us have accepted that our media environment is in a constant state of change -- not always in positive progress, but certainly always on the move. No medium stands still on our watch.

This ceaseless dynamism is especially evident right now in certain segments: networks and DSPs; video production, distribution, networks; mobile; apps; location-based marketing. As marketers looking for strategic options, as we reflect on any given segment -- the only thing we know absolutely is that there is always more to learn. That's either daunting or exhilarating, depending on your situation and even your business or marketing personality.

I think about this a lot when working with clients venturing into new territory in their marketing and media mix. Intrigued by emerging media options, but looking to balance  experimentation with the tried and true, it's often too easy too fool oneself into a false sense of mastery.

Right now some of the areas deemed most reliable by marketers are those in which we see some of the most useful change. We will benefit by embracing their bigness and just a little bit of the unknown.

Smoking the search pipe. Many marketers rely on search marketing as their sole digital method.  In some cases, that's putting it kindly; it's almost an addiction. At its healthiest, the love of search comes down to  its potential to harness consumer demand and swift optimization, as a means to maximize conversion volume and acquisition costs without losing too much sleep.  We love that marketers love search - but there are so many ways to extend the learning gained in the beginner period, from leveraging universal search, the content networks, multimedia and video optimization, to mobile search and more. Search has grown into a more robust version of itself, thanks to its more integrated use by its pioneers and innovators -- and a more cross-platform aspiration for the media in general.

Social and  the sidelines. We media folk banter about how social is so much more than having a lively Facebook page, executing display in social environments, or unleashing brand advocates. At its best, social involves a serious playbook, a truly diversified approach. But many marketers are stuck at the threshold, excited by a gradually mounting fan base and the perceived joys of hyper-targeting in environments like  Facebook, just by checking demographic boxes. To go bolder, one might work with folks who've made it their business to figure out the field: agencies, studios or individuals versed in social and gaming mechanics; buzz and sentiment analysis; and the pairing of offline experiential and social.

The new PR way. We all know companies who, while dabbling digitally in things like social and search,  have continued to play it the conventional way on PR. They engage hired guns to target the usual conventional, sanctioned news and editorial outlets for straight coverage, bylines and reviews. But what of the blogosphere? The most serious, successful PR today interplays the crucial conventional with the working of the blogosphere. That is, indentifying market influencers for your brand whose blogs and communities are big, active, loyal and propagating -- and really developing relationships and coverage with them. Today's fresh blogosphere represents the best new opportunity for a brand with a story to tell and benefits to offer.

Localization's true dawn. We have long been a little bit excited about the opportunity to localize a buy. At minimum, this has included working with publishers and systems to target by DMA or IP address to geo-limit a buy. Or, we've done buys with regional media - news, cultural and community sites. Within search marketing, we geo-modify our keyword lists or,  on the back-end, set the systems to the geographies we target.  And numerous companies have cropped up to capitalize on our localized marketing desires.

As social and local start to cooperate more, with our collective zeal for hyper-local, and with the entrance of local advertising forerunners like Foursquare, we know this is on the cusp of taking off. Some predict that location-based Web services are going to decimate the market that has been held by local media companies. I would argue that this holding has been somewhat half-hearted anyway, and we have only previously scratched the surface of  what's possible. Taking a look at how to play in this emerging sphere -- both as advertisers and publishers -- is one of the smartest moves you  can make right now to market and play locally with your consumers.

In short, there's a lot of wisdom in  sticking to what you know and what works. But, as the field hosting some of our most knowable and powerful media advances,  there has never been a better time for riffing off the familiar to a bolder place.

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1 comment about "Riffing Off The Familiar".
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  1. Walter Sabo from HitViews, September 27, 2010 at 1:37 p.m.

    "Localisms" true interactive dawn is called Top 40 radio request lines. Remember the thrill when your high school was mentioned on the radio? Simple, live local. Nothing sells like it.

    We are here to sell stuff, not worry about "Marketing funnels."

    HITVIEWS discovered, three years ago, the most potent way to "sell stuff" on the internet using video webstars. www.hitviews.com

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