It wasn't so long ago that when you mentioned Direct Response Television (DRTV), consumers and marketers alike conjured up images of pitchmen cutting copper pennies with Ginsu knives.
In this new world of communications, in order to succeed we all have to have an insatiable curiosity about the world around us. If you stop learning, you die - or at least you won't have a future in our ever-evolving industry. Today our business is more exciting than ever before. So many amazing things are happening - old models breaking down, dynamic new models forming, and all of it happening in such condensed time.
So who cares about measurement? Perhaps that's an odd question in a column called "Taking Measure." But the fact is that no one really wants to know the ROI of previous marketing efforts. What smart marketers want is to find indicators of what might or might not work in the future. And there's the rub: The past is not always a good indicator of the future. Things change. Strategies evolve. Competitors come and go. Technologies disrupt.
The advertising research foundation (ARF) is making a valiant effort to champion "engagement" as the future of communications metrics. Its insistence that the metrics be reliable, valid, and predictive is exactly right. ARF's definition, arrived at this summer, announces: "Engagement is turning on a prospect to brand idea enhanced by the surrounding context."
Hey, what's the big idea? How do you move from insight to action, from ordinary to extraordinary?
There is a temptation in revolutionary times to throw out everything that came before. I've known such would-be Jacobins in the online media world. Everything and everyone that came before at best "didn't get it," and at worst wanted to use their weight, mass, legal prowess, and cash to co-opt or squash innovation.
It was more than 40 years ago now that Marshall McLuhan made his famous proclamation that the medium is the message. Since then we've managed to misconstrue his meaning quite successfully. Pretty much everyone these days takes the statement to mean that the value of a media property is just as important for the advertiser as the advertising message that appears within the medium. So, for example, it's just as important for a global investment company to appear in The Wall Street Journal and Barron's as it is for it to say interesting things in those journals.
This summer I was invited to teach a media planning course at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communications. After years of guest-lecturing in its hallowed halls, USC bestowed upon me my very own tweed jacket, elbow patches, and pipe. I'm now a professor at this prestigious school for journalism and communications - okay, an adjunct professor, to be precise, but my mom is still awfully impressed.
News flash: there may be no "I" in team, but there most certainly is one in media. In fact, there are three: insight, ideas, and innovation. With the sweeping pace of change in the media landscape, this triple-I combo spells the new core competencies in our industry. They are the catalysts for success and the launch pads for the fast track. In other words, they're "must have" ingredients for communications platforms that combine content with context so compellingly that they capture consumer attention amid increasing clutter, noise, distractions, time scarcity, consumer control, and every other sky-is-falling trend bemoaned at media …
Meet our good friend Roy. We like Roy, but like most good friends he can be a pain in the ass. He's loud and crass; he tends to interrupt, doesn't listen, indeed essentially dominates the conversation. Sometimes we just want to slap him. But we can't do that, because our clients want him around. As a matter of fact, they like Roy more than we do.