Somewhere in Africa, right now – probably in Kenya or Tanzania, perhaps on a wide open savanna in the Serengeti National Park – a lion is stalking his prey. The prey – maybe an antelope, maybe a small buffalo – is flighty, he is alert, he is ready to move at a moment’s notice. The lion is quick too, but he knows he is not quick enough; he must use guile and cunning if he is to eat, he must wait in the long grass, and select the perfect moment to strike.
This metaphor sums up where we are with media marketing and digital advertising production at the moment. Of course, we are not really dealing with predators and prey, but the point is that the time for brute force and marketing attrition is now over. In today’s market, it is only the smart who can survive.
Aligning supply with demand
It is no secret that broadcasting and digital advertising have changed. Walk into any home in America right now and look around you; chances are you will see three, four, five, or even more devices designed for personal media consumption. Homes that were once arranged around a communal television set are now atomized, with individual choice prized higher than group harmony, and consumers can access the media products they want, wherever and whenever they want them.
We can approach this from one of two angles: we can either bemoan the loss of the captive audience that broadcasters and digital advertisers used to enjoy, or we can plan our strategies to make the most of this increasingly diverse landscape. If we are to move forward, the latter approach is necessary. This is no time to cry over spilled milk.
After all, the opportunities are all around us. In 2015 it was reported that 87% of media consumers now utilize another screened-device at the same time as watching their traditional television set. A year later, in 2016, media marketing reached a tipping point, as the percentage of Americans streaming movies online at least once a month passed 50% for the first time. This represents an exciting new forum for media marketers.
But to succeed in this landscape – to capture and hold the attention of increasingly fickle audiences – we need to align the services we provide with the demands of the consumer. This used to be easy, as broadcasters aimed for prime time scheduling slots and advertisers conducted research into which customer demographics were connecting most profoundly with each show. Now it is a little more complex.
Round the clock, on-demand content
The consumer is now king when it comes to the media they consume. Taking a city like Los Angeles as a case study, we can see that there are 350 different channels available to users. Most of these channels provide broadcasts in English, many in Spanish, and some in a diverse variety of languages ranging from Armenian and Chinese to Swahili and Tagalog.
Most households now include at least one personal computer, almost all will include one smartphone per member of the household, and most will house tablet devices or other smart technology.
There is so much choice here that it is easy for media marketers to have their voices drowned out in the scuffle for attention. This is why we need to understand the consumer, and this is why we need to act at the critical moment.
Data puts such understanding directly into our hands. What programs do your target demographic enjoy? What time do they usually watch these shows; in the morning, at lunchtime, or after work? What levels of disposable income do they have to play with? Which devices are they using to consume the media they enjoy? Do they perhaps begin watching a show on their television sets and then finish watching on a smartphone on the bus to work?
This is just the tip of the iceberg of what you need to know, what you can know if you use the right methods. Conduct surveys, ask consumers directly, use analytic data on your company website, collect this data via integrated software platforms, store it using cloud computing systems. This is what is going to give you the advantage, this is what is going to let you know when to strike.
Just like the lion edging ever closer through the scrub, knowing he can’t win in a flat-out chase, choosing the perfect time and place and act.
A call to action
Unfortunately, acting in that magic window of opportunity is not the end of the story. With so much choice available, the consumer is still in control; it is still they who call the shots. If the consumer opts to look elsewhere for the media products you are providing, they are free to do so.
So, how can you make the most of this golden opportunity? How can you secure the loyalty and the positive action of the consumer?
To begin with, you need to funnel the consumer in the right direction, laying out a pathway for them. This requires integration. For streamable content, this is easy: a clickable box directs the lead to a data-capture form to join a mailing list or subscribe to additional content. For traditional television, it is more difficult, but can still be achieved via a network of integrated processes: these include social media channels that tie directly into the content, a dedicated Web presence, or customer support for products advertised.
This underlines how important cohesion is in media marketing. The first point of contact must lead to the second, and then to the third, and so on until a sale is achieved. It is not enough simply to engage the consumer and let that be that; instead a path must be laid out for them, with solutions provided at every turn.
Understanding the consumer and then leading them in the direction you want to take them; these are the keys to securing customer attention in today’s media market.
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This post is the first of a seven part series entitled, “Reimagining Media in The Digital Age.” Check back weekly for further blogs in the series.