Marketers and agencies are constantly under pressure to innovate, to find the next and latest vehicle to disseminate brand messaging. As a result of that pressure, agencies and corporate marketing departments are generally willing to try anything once — and for good reason; one placement, in the right medium, with the proper audience, can make or break a campaign. So it’s no wonder social networking websites, mobile messaging and other of the moment media properties have been on the media hit-list of agencies and corporate marketers looking to reach younger consumers — but, at what expense?
There’s no question Generation Y consumes media in an entirely new way, opening doors for marketers to interact with this coveted demographic on multiple, meaningful levels. But I sometimes wonder if we’ve lost our collective minds when it comes to planning and buying in this brave new world. The truth is, despite the interactivity, measurability, and targeting capabilities offered by interactive media, it’s still just that — another medium to reach readers who are engaged with content. The rules are being rewritten, but that doesn’t mean we should throw the old play book out the window. When I hear any of the following from a client, I know it’s time to encourage a “back to basics” approach:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ “It’s where our target demographic hangs out…” More than ever, the medium is the message, but Marshall McLuhan would be up in arms if he realized the extent to which, in our hurry to experiment with media, meaning and context get left by the wayside. I can’t tell you the number of times we’ve heard clients say “We’ve got to be on Facebook. It’s where all of the college students are.” For a cutting-edge technology company looking to create a community of early adopters and brand addicts, or a record company or publisher attempting to build grassroots buzz for a new title, a social network may well be the perfect vehicle.
But privacy and safety concerns aside, blue-chip advertisers and corporate recruiters need to be sensitive to the reason WHY young people are hanging out at Facebook and MySpace: to socialize with friends and check out the opposite sex. Think of your own reading habits: Are you receptive to an enterprise software ad while reading the sex column in Maxim or Cosmopolitan? Would you like to be interrupted by a financial services pitch while chatting with friends over coffee? There’s no doubt social networking sites represent a phenomenon waiting to be tapped. But a traditional media buy may not be the best approach, nor are they the right fit for every advertiser.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ “But it’s the hot new thing…” Many marketers seem in a rush to abandon tried and true strategies in favor of a headlong dive into new media. We work with a client who has had tremendous success over the years marketing to college students and recent graduates through a mix of online and print placements in campus media and on-campus events. Faced with a shrinking budget — and increasing pressure from corporate to stay on top of collegiate buzzwords — they devoted substantial dollars to presence on social networking sites (which hadn’t performed for them) and mobile marketing efforts.