Procter & Gamble is far from the sole incumbent marketer thriving in the postadvertising environment. Indeed, the amount of successful, scalable experimentation undertaken by mainstream companies is striking. Coca-Cola, Nike, Anheuser-Busch, McDonald’s, and AT&T have developed games and other engagement mechanisms on mobile devices. But marketers don’t have to go virtual to succeed in this realm: DaimlerChrysler’s Camp Jeep campaign, which promoted off-road test drives in real-world surroundings that included live music, gaming kiosks, and giveaways, generated 75,000 names, 85,000 test drives, and a sales conversion rate of 8 percent — eight times the rate achieved by the average automaker promotional event.
While some marketers are disintermediating the media, many are working more closely with media companies to conceive and execute high-impact, integrated marketing solutions that combine above- and below-the-line elements. For example, Home Depot and Discovery Channel teamed up recently to drive more women into Home Depot stores, a top priority for the leading home improvement retailer in the U.S. The project involved integrating cable programming on TLC, in-store and on-air promotion, and unique live events around the concept of “Do-It-Herself” workshops, which attracted, in the initial wave, more than 27,000 “toolbelt divas.”
Despite transitional pains as media companies encroach on the territory of their traditional customers, the ad agencies, we expect many more such direct marketer–media collaborations. Some of the more innovative media companies are beginning to leverage their channel assets and audience relationships by becoming “category managers” for their larger advertising clients in specific demographic segments, such as youth, young adults, and baby boomers. Inevitably, the more enterprising among them will package their own media with that of select suppliers. These category leaders and their partners will increase their share by showing that their solutions most effectively deliver a specific audience and support the marketer’s purchase funnel objectives. Other media companies will avoid the risk of antagonizing agencies by partnering with them to rebuild agency capabilities and strengthen the entire marketing-media value chain.
Media companies are also taking their brands across platforms, and showing attractive gains for their efforts. E.W. Scripps, the owner of the four leading branded lifestyle cable networks (HGTV, the Food Network, DIY Network, and Fine Living), is delivering on-demand programming to 12 million households and branded digital newsletters to 17 million subscribers. Its HGTV Dream House promotion drew 39 million entries last year, with sponsorship support from GMC, Lumber Liquidators, and Lending Tree, among other advertisers.
There is a similar upside for most players in the evolving advertising value chain, but responses need to be rapid. It has been 12 years since the launch of the Netscape Navigator browser, the Big Bang in the development of the postadvertising universe: There is no excuse for any incumbent media company or marketer that fails to take advantage of the opportunities that have been evolving ever since. All will have to find ways to navigate a cosmos vastly more complex than the TV dial, the newsstand, and the mailbox — all of which they once effectively controlled.
To accomplish all this, marketers are rapidly recognizing the need to in-source new skills and capabilities. Nearly 70 percent of all U.S. companies have reorganized their marketing departments during the past five years, according to research by the ANA and Booz Allen Hamilton. One major cause for the changes has been their need for new expertise in digital technology, relationship marketing, and media innovation to supplement their traditional brand management apparatus. (See “Beyond Brand Management,” by Richard Rawlinson, s+b, Summer 2006.)
Until this shift, the functional-skill profile for brand management positions at most leading marketers had remained largely unchanged since the 1970s, when broadcast TV was at its zenith. Many brand managers are still primarily trained to assess TV-centric campaigns and pitches from agencies, and then relate them to data on consumers and the market from Nielsen and other research providers. Today’s brand marketers, however, need to think in new ways about connecting more effectively with the consumer, either through their media partners, through retailers, or through their company’s own database and assets. They need to integrate their marketing system more dynamically across a broader network of partners and media alternatives, reshaping it in real time as they operate. In the near term, this will require marketers to experiment with new advertising models and integrated media solutions and redefine critical skills and competencies.