The Evolving Cross-Platform Equation: 1+1+1= 4

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, February 19, 2008
Hard water is our problem. Others may suffer from bad-tasting water, bad-smelling water, high iron content and even high copper concentration. But our well water is tough as nails. One might think that "tough as nails" is really a reference to high iron content but they would be wrong. Hard water is defined, by professionals, as water, inundated with calcium and magnesium, that spots your glasses and dishes, makes laundry dull and causes soap scum and scale to build up making cleaning a chore. High iron content, on the other hand, is probably the second most common "residential water" problem, after water hardness, and whose form of self-expression is through reddish or red brown stains on your fixtures and clothing, yellow or orange colored water, and/or a metallic taste to your water. So we invested in the Culligan 100% guaranteed residential water filtration triple play: drinking water filter, feeder service with requisite soda ash and salt, and the sandblaster general purpose water filter.



A month ago we noticed a problem with our feeder tank. Clogged, was our unprofessional diagnosis. We called our Culligan guy. He showed up within the week, disconnected the feeder injector pump, blew into both ends freeing the flapper that was stuck in a closed position, so he informed us, wrote out a bill for $132 and left -- all within four and a half minutes. No complaint. The eradication of soap scum and scale is worth the price.

Two weeks later we received a green postcard in the mail from Culligan reminding us that it was time to set up an appointment, if we wish, for an annual maintenance inspection. I must admit that I was surprised: the service guy just visited my home so why couldn't he have handled the annual maintenance during the same visit. Save us both some time -- the four-hour mandatory "be at home awaiting service" window, and his travel time -- and I imagine money. Scalability and redundancy mitigated in the same breath.

I contacted Culligan headquarters and posited my polemic. The service manager informed me that the service guy had no way of knowing that my annual maintenance was up because corporate/dispatchers only assign calls - problem-specific -- but do not provide any other information about the customer to the service representative who shows up at your home.

Then the service manager asked, "Which annual maintenance inspection are you referring to?"

"Was there more than one?" I queried. "I see by your records that you have two annual maintenance reminders."


"Yes," he said, "one for the feeder service in February and the other, in March for the drinking water filter."

"No kidding. Why aren't they at the same time?" I asked.

"They could be," he informed me. "We are receiving many calls from our customers with similar concerns as yours."

I bring up this incident because I think this communications issue between different divisions within corporate monoliths is of great importance to our media industry and one that is often neglected. As media companies evolve their cross-media platform offerings and value propositions for consumers and marketers alike, they need to be aware of the consumer interactions across all of their media assets. Single plays, double plays, triple plays and quadruple bypasses -- media conglomerates and marketers need to be cognizant of which video, broadband, wireless, and telephony their customers are engaged with and how i.e., duration, behavior, lifestyle, motility, recency, environmental, propinquity...

When Jack Myers first started to encourage dialogue about the value of cross-media platforms in the late 1990s, media companies synthesized his message to mean simply the packaging of as many media assets as possible for premium pricing. The ad industry responded by demanding discounts since they were spending more money with one entity. After a few years, the media titans disbanded the cross-media platform groups as the marketers' enthusiasm petered out. 1+1+1 equaled no more than 3 and the one-stop-shop approach garnered little appreciation.

In my opinion, the efficacy of cross-media platforms is not only about media assets (distribution and scale) and stacking them upon one another to construct impressions but more importantly, how the different media and services interplay with one another to create greater value for the marketer and enhanced relevancy and reward for the consumer.

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