Thursday, February 02, 2006

Media Layering

Tony Weisman, CMO of Draft in Chicago, shared this idea of “Media Layering” with me. Let me try to explore it.

Everyone in today’s marketing world talks about integrated communication, but it has been a buzz word for at least 10 years without meaning too much for most Fortune 500 companies. The original buzz of Integration meant that a company’s marketing have an integrated approach across all media channels (e.g. TV, Radio, Direct Mail) while targeting particular customer segments, or even individual customers.

Most companies tried, most companies failed but now something new is happening which changes the game of integrated communication. The customer is consuming marketing messages and media simultaneously in an aggregated manner, meaning he or she watches TV, browses the Web, while talking on the phone with the best friend. We call this “Media-Layering”, the customer does not consume one media at a time but integrates several media into one consumption act. The customer integrates the different media himself, but in a manner that the Fortune 500 companies and its agencies have not planned and do not control. It’s a customer driven, desired, and controlled act of media integration.

What does this mean for us marketers, especially for our continuous strive to integrated communication? We believe this trend (which will only get stronger) will create three key opportunities:

- Embrace “Media-Layering”, don’t’ fight it: It’s less about coordinated integration of all marketing messages but it is about accepting “Media-Layering” as a customer reality which leads to an even shorter time of getting your message across, it all results into a further decreased customer attention span for our marketing work. If you thought of 30 seconds TV spot, 10 seconds for a DM piece, or 5 seconds for an email, cut all these attention spans by 80% and you know what kind of time you have for your communication

- Be on top of the “Media-Layering” hierarchy: Every marketing communication should not just get shorter but utilize customer’s “Media-Layering” behavior as the challenge to be on top of the consumed media layer. You can only do this if you transform every communication element into a real value add. The marketing program needs to be more than just communication; it has to transform itself into customer centric service. If you purely communicate to your customers, you will be at the bottom of the consumed media layer, if you service your customer, you will be at the top of the consumed media layer.

- Pay less per “Media-layered” customer contact: The economics per customer contact changes. Fortune 500 companies and their Media agencies should not pay anymore the established rates per impression, or audience volume since all contacts are layered. Layered contacts dramatically reduce the value of one singular contact. The most value per contact is generated by either marketing vehicles which force a singular media attention span for some period of time (e.g. Direct Mail,) or for consumption locations in which the customer is unable to “Media-Layering” as much as he would normally like to (e.g. airplanes, retail story, movie theaters)

The world might have gotten flatter but marketing consumption has gotten denser in every single customer contact.


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