Was There A Silver Bullet In New York This Week?

This week was OMMA East, held by MediaPost, and MIXX, held by the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Two conferences in New York City on the same days, both focused on the Internet and online advertising. Both conferences attempted to aggregate the most innovative minds of the Internet industry to discuss paths to improve digital content delivery for the consumer and integrate advertising into these content models. Both dealt with the ways in which emerging platforms such as social media, mobile and online video can be used to message to the consumer--and both conferences were attended by the same people.

All that being said, I'm not here to represent the industry masses and wax poetically about why these two esteemed and increasingly valuable conferences should be scheduled for different dates in the future. I'll let somebody else do that. I'm here to ask the simple question, "Why is everyone looking for the silver bullet?"

I witnessed many panels and discussions and I participated in more than a few of them myself. The topics centered on the ways to make advertising effective within various media vehicles--but not once did I hear someone willing to step up and say what I considered to be obvious: that the job of a marketer is significantly more difficult now than before, and you cannot rely on one single format to speak to the consumer. You need to rely on strategy, or as some people called it, strategery (yes--I also hope those people were joking, too).



I wish our industry would present more content dedicated towards strategy and the integration of multiple vehicles together to convey a message. I saw panels about social media, but few offered up ways to integrate social media with TV and print. I saw panels on mobile, but even fewer offered up advice on how to use mobile to support TV and outdoor. I listened to presentations on online video, but the message was missing that offered up a single strategy on how to integrate online video and traditional TV together for today's scattered audience.

In all of the examples above I mentioned TV. TV is certainly on the decline and consumer choice is opting towards delivery of video content in the form they want rather than the form the networks dictate--but the simple fact is, TV is still the largest advertising vehicle on the planet and will be for many years to come. I know, I know.... It's blasphemous for an Internet guy to make such a statement, but it's true. TV is not going away and will likely not go away for another 15 years. That means that for the next 15 years, we need to know how to play together.

What I want to see is how marketers plan to use multiple formats together to create a message. Remember when BMW began the video frenzy with its launch of BMW films? That was many years ago now, but has BMW stopped advertising on TV or in print? No. In fact, the company also appears to have even increased its allocations toward outdoor in the last year, but not at the cost of online. BMW developed a strategy and implemented it using tactics. Online Video is a tactic, it is NOT a strategy. Why can't we see discussions about how to practically apply what we know about the shift in media spend to an everyday media tactical recommendation? Why are people at digital conferences so afraid to talk about traditional media in a relatively positive light?

The best advice you can get on how to use media in the correct manner comes from above. I don't mean it comes from a religious heaven; it comes from someone who can stand above the predispositions towards media vehicles. It comes from someone who is not incentivized to recommend one format over another. If you go to an interactive agency, they will recommend interactive. If you go to a traditional shop they will recommend TV and print. That's just the way it is!

My wish for future conferences, other than that they be scheduled on different dates and times, is that we truly see integration at the forefront. Talk about old media alongside new media. Tell us how to allocate our media spends tactically--and why? Inform us of the ways you can evaluate media and make decisions. Help us to understand the ways in which social media can be used to support your other efforts and stop pretending that social media, or online video, or mobile, can be planned in a vacuum. It can't.

There is no silver bullet to effective marketing--so let's stop trying to find one. Don't you agree?

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