Different Verticals, Different Needs: Why Rich Media Won’t Benefit from a One-Size-Fits-All Mentality

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Typically, trend forecasts are applied in a big general dose. But with the wealth of metrics we’ve collected across tens of thousands of rich media campaigns, it’s clear that what works well for one vertical doesn’t necessarily work for another. As the Political, Automotive and Pharmaceutical verticals are poised to increase their rich media spending in 2007, trends specific to each are outlined below.

Political: New Media, New Deal
With Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton recently announcing their long-suspected presidential intentions, Campaign 2008 is well under way. In Obama’s second book, The Audacity of Hope, he casually notes that he posts to blogs to explain why he voted a certain way or where he stands on various issues. After Clinton announced her candidacy online and declared she’s “in it to win,” she invited voters to join her for three live web chats in an open question and answer forum. Toss in John Edwards’ savvy use of the medium and Howard Dean’s online grassroots initiative in 2004 and politicians have made technological leaps and bounds from fireside chats and whistle stop tours.

The inherent democracy and intimacy of the Internet make it coveted real estate amongst politicians battling it out in an increasingly tough climate. And unlike other industries that are sometimes slow to embrace new media, the political realm is not reticent to experiment with untested ways to reach potential voters. It’s estimated that $3 billion will be spent across all media during Campaign 2008. So the question is not whether candidates will use rich media in 2007, but how they will use it.

Thanks to rich media’s robust capabilities, it is an ideal vehicle to provide voters with targeted information about how a candidate voted on hot-button issues or her platform, solicit volunteers and contributions, or promote a book (on message, of course), ala John McCain. Apart from candidate-specific messaging, rich media is also used to get out the vote. Due to the too-close-to-call nature of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, candidates’ need to drive voters to the polls is greater than ever.

Considering that turnout among 18-29 year-olds increased for the second major election in a row in 2004 — according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) — it is essential that politicians leverage the Internet to reach younger voters. CIRCLE also found that young adult voters respond best to personalized messaging, which can best be achieved with a geo-targeted rich media campaign that pulls in specific information via dynamic data.

Automotive: Choose Not to Choose

I love to read about old advertising campaigns and learn what made them great and why they resonated with consumers. Recently, I was reading about Doyle Dane Bernbach’s historic “Think small” print campaign that introduced the Volkswagen Beetle to the U.S. in 1959. One fact jumped out at me in particular: up until then automotive advertisers did not use photographs to show off their products, rather they relied on illustrations. I find this very telling because in our experience, the automotive industry has been a bit behind the curve when it comes to fully utilizing rich media.

Part of this stems from manufacturers’ and dealers’ competing branding and direct response goals, respectively. While manufacturers and parent companies concentrate on generating awareness and creating demand, dealers are focused on getting people to the showroom and selling cars.

Rich media allows advertisers to create effective campaigns that combine both branding and direct response initiatives. Video and a photo gallery are the perfect features to create awareness and trigger the “I have to get the car” response. Coupled with geo-targeted promotions and offers and dealer locators, fed with dynamic data, and those consumers interested in learning more or making a purchase are easily able to take action. Rich media campaigns can also be embedded with tracking tags/site events to determine how many users later visit a web site and make a purchase, allowing brand managers to clearly and definitely show how rich media initiatives impact their company’s bottom line.

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