Aperture: Enabling, One Day at a Time

Calm yourself. Believe it or not, Cumulative Accelerated Dynamic Change (CADC) is exactly what we're living through. The media landscape is changing so rapidly and those changes beget others - and so on, and on and on.

There are important implications for media and marketing strategy based on this shifting landscape. For those who understand the impact of CADC and plan for it, stronger and more competitive plans will be created. For those behind the eight ball, watch out - that ball is rolling downhill and you'll soon be under it.
The current evidence of CADC? In just the past 10 years we've seen enormous growth of all kinds of media. The combination of media-outlet growth and the development of new outlets not even imagined in 1996 has interrupted static consumer behavior and encouraged dynamic behavioral change.

This accelerated growth and development, coupled with erosion of the media landscape, has encouraged the development of new communications channels. While newspaper readership continues to decline, online news outlets are growing. In the wake of year-over-year network-TV ratings slippage, a new form of video on demand was born: the movement of program content online.

All of these developments have changed the power of advertising from simply reaching millions to influencing individual consumers one at a time.

We have dubbed the elements that have made much of this possible Dynamic Change Enablers. In combination, they have encouraged and accelerated the media transformation. Meet the Enablers:

  • Individuality: Do your own thing. People have a hunger for information to help them be just what they want to be. The media has responded.
  • Growing Population: In a nation of more than 300 million people, even the smallest groups of individuals become an attractive and cohesive cohort for marketers. This growing population of smaller communities of interest requires that each group's needs are recognized and satisfied.
  • The Long Tail: With an ongoing imperative to build business in a dynamic environment, marketers have recognized that there is a long-tail of opportunity. Niche marketers have seen sales respond when they customize product, messaging and promotions to multiple relevant consumer groups.
  • Technology: Technological advances have enabled more radio and television stations to be launched, uses (like interactivity) to be offered, and new media to be invented, from the Internet itself, to digital out-of-home and mobile. But new technology would have stayed in the factory if not encouraged by marketplace pull.
  • Competition Among Media Outlets: The impact of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has been to open up competition for the delivery of television, telephone and Internet, rapidly accelerating what would have been natural growth in our business. There's nothing like multiple companies chasing the same customer to help increase research and development on new products, and get them to market quickly and efficiently.
  • Marketplace Dynamics for Advertisers: Probably the single strongest Enabler is the need for speed. Changes in retailing and a brand's ability to quickly know how its product is performing have heightened the need for fast-acting media.

The challenge is to harness the Enablers, understanding their relationship to media-outlet dynamics and the resultant impact on consumer receptivity. Regardless of its accessibility, new media is of no use if the message is irrelevant and the aperture of receptivity is closed. Understanding the individual and the group dynamic will allow a brand to sell effectively to each, and ultimately to achieve marketplace success.

There is no magic bullet for CADC, and the only guarantee is that today's pace of change will continue to accelerate. Easy answers to navigating the new-media landscape, if they ever existed, are yesterday's news. Today, and more important tomorrow, success will be driven not by understanding the media but by understanding individual consumer apertures evident in an individual's relationship with the media. Success is judged not by reaching millions but by influencing people, one at a time.

Steve Farella, president-CEO, and Audrey Seigel, executive vice president and director of client services, are cofounders of TargetCast tcm. (
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