Media Impressionism

At the iMedia Summit in Scottsdale last month, Andrew Heyward, President, CBS News spoke about a number of interesting and enlightening topics. One thing stuck with me greater than all of the others. He said that teens and kids (and probably others) have a new way of taking information in. They don't get all of their information from a single, linear stream such as reading a complete analysis or watching CBS News every night. Rather, they get parts of a story from many different sources. Little snippets rather than start to finish. Reminds me of Max Headroom and Blipverts. The amazing part of this is that their research shows that they have an amazingly accurate view of the big picture and what is really happening. He calls this group "information impressionists." Media pointillism. I love it. This is a sign that communications as we know it will substantially change, as this group gets older and become adult consumers. Once again, everything we know is wrong.

We used to talk about vertical marketing (vertigration) and media mix. Although in all of those plans, the implication was that we needed to have certain weights in each medium before it became "effective". We even went so far as to tell clients not to add a second medium until they had achieved an effective level of communications in the first. It was the right thing to do in a world where people consumed a few media vehicles a lot. But the media have fractionalized. Nobody dominates share of voice or share of mind. Communications are shorter and, in video, replete with short scenes and quick transitions.



Not all Web companies were clueless in marketing. The fresh approach that was tried by many had some real gems. For example, with the Web, some companies came along that became famous by executing what is now called "surround sound marketing". A good example is CBS MarketWatch. In the period before and after their IPO when they were establishing their awareness, they were everywhere. CBS TV, radio including traffic sponsorships, AOL, Yahoo, most finance sites, out-of-home, magazines, national newspapers, etc. Did they build an effective frequency in any medium? No. Did the campaign work? Yes. They attracted a lot of visitors and also helped their sales staff get in the door to agencies. It helped a lot that they had a quality site with vital, dynamic content that kept people coming back once they visited. But I digress.

If we have a growing group of consumers that are information impressionists, then we might consider practicing media impressionism to succeed. Especially with younger targets. Media impressionism carries surround sound marketing another step further. Not only do we have permission to be in a number of media, even at lower levels, we are encouraged to use shorter form, quick communications. In this manner, frequency can be built vertically vs. horizontally. Which can be fairly efficient for a smaller budget advertiser to do. This does not mean that you need to be in every medium, just because. But it does mean that if you find targeted, effective and efficient ways to use a medium, and you are talking to the same people in a different way, you should consider it. For the smaller budget advertiser especially, you may find it more effective.

And don't bother to run out and register at We've already done it. Content to come.

David L. Smith is President and CEO of Mediasmith, Inc.

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