Saneel Radia at BBH Labs suggests that media (defined for non-ad people as messaging conduits such as television, radio, print, online banners, etc.) should now be considered as important as advertising strategy or creative in influencing people. In a perfect example, he mentions music — and how the shift to iPods and digital formats and playlists has had enormous impact on how music itself is structured. The channels influence the idea within, just as paved highways have altered the designs of our vehicles.
This is not a new idea, of course; Marshall McLuhan wrote in 1964 that “the medium is the message,” with the channel format influencing how messages are perceived. Yet Saneel builds on this, suggesting that individual media channels should not only be evaluated for how they affect message, but be planned to influence differentiated response (what Saneel terms “experience”).
One trigger. 20 results.
Differentiated response? This seems confusing at first for marketers used to targeting A person with B message through C medium, akin to splitting a single strand of spaghetti at the ends, so let’s use skateboarding sneakers on YouTube as an illustration. A shoe brand such as Vans could reach its audience in many ways: passive viewers could watch a YouTube video featuring the sneaker, or users could forward the cool video to others, or manipulate a video, or even create their own user-generated content filming kids in the backyard in Vans leaping off ramps. Saneel calls this the 1:9:90 rule: “If 1% of the audience drives the experience, 9% participates, and 90% just consumes, wouldn’t a brand want to understand each stratum of people, and how the experience could fit them appropriately?” With the biggest trend in media now being concurrent media use, for instance, teens texting on mobile phones with a laptop on their knees reading Facebook while watching TV, consumers taking different response pathways is now part of life.
And therein is a disconnect. Marketers still often focus campaigns on singular objectives such as lead gen, sales, brand awareness, product launch, and then set up media strands pointed at each target and desired response. Customers, however, interpret brands in any way they want, and engage or react or respond in multiple pathways. Any single message in any individual media channel can push consumers in different directions.
The solution is simple: evaluate all the ways customers could respond from messages in each channel, which types of response provide value, and then restructure your medium-message accordingly. Product differentiation was a 1940s idea. Brand differentiation was a 1970s fad. Customer differentiation rose in the early 1990s. Today, it’s time to differentiate media response.
Image: Trey Ratcliff