The old-school marketer focused on two traditional axes: the media and the message. In basic terms these refer to media buying and creative. I come from a media background, so trust me when I say it’s painful that media has less importance in the world of today’s marketing. What I’m observing is a sea change -- and if you can’t stay on pace with change, then you tend to get passed by.
The media business is shifting toward the ability to deliver an audience. Audiences are found through data: data based on demographics plus behaviors, which make up a profile. Profiles can be used for targeting.
You used to pick a media placement based on the composition of the audience, but that model has evolved. Now we can slice and dice placements with audience targeting layered over the top, which virtually eliminates waste and ensures 100% efficiency.
Of course I’m not saying it totally removes the media consideration. There is still associative value in the location of the placement and the brand value of context, but contexts can shift and audience targeting becomes the primary consideration.
For proof of evolution, simply look at the world of media agencies, which have all established programmatic trading desks. These desks have quickly become profit centers for the holding companies that own them. This shift has taken place in parallel with the ongoing drop in standard media commissions, which once were as high as 15% and now are routinely as low as 1%-2% of spend. These rates are untenable, and agencies have had to shift their focus to make up for them. So trading desks are becoming more important, and programmatic expanding beyond display.
The other hallmark of old-school marketing was the “big idea”: the creative concept, which would be universally executed across every channel in unison, blanketing the target audience in a flurry of copy and images to sway them towards consideration and purchase. Some brands still hit the occasional home run, but the norm has shifted to a creative concept personalized to a million targets. So the creative concept becomes more like a library of content and assets to choose from.
While these shifts do not signal the death of creativity, it does portend the rise of a different kind of creative mind, one that can develop a theme and then apply that theme to multiple audiences simultaneously. These are the creative minds who understand brand building across multi-tasked channels and the interplay of one audience to another. These minds were raised in social media and understand that your message is competing not only against for mindshare against your competitors’ messages, but also against messages posted by your audiences’ family and friends. In this world of clutter, marketing messages are intertwined with every other aspect of life, in many cases blurring the lines between them. Still, clutter is an old-school concept; it’s more about multi-woven messaging, understanding the ways your target builds a point of view by digesting multiple sources of content in a non-linear manner.
Data and content are the driving forces for marketers, and these are the components that will be required for them to be successful over the next 10 years. Is your team structured around these two concepts? Is your agency equipped to handle them? These are the questions you should be asking.