Breaking Out of Media’s Containers

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: Breaking Out of Media’s Containers

Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategist for Publicis Groupe once said, “The future doesn’t fit in the containers of the past.” Although Rishad made this declaration many years ago, his sentiment has never resonated more than it does today.

Consider the rapid evolvement of media and technology:

Mobile traffic grew 74% in 2015 and an astounding 400-million-fold over the past 15 years. When it comes to media consumption, we are no longer tethered to our desks and couches.

Storage capacity has also increased tremendously. Consumers could buy eight MB of storage for $28 in 2000, and just 15 years later half a terabyte for about the same price. Increased consumer storage needs have also led to the growth of the cloud, projected to be used by 55% of consumers by 2019. That is up from 42% in 2014. Think about the implications for HD media viewing.

Processing speed continues to follow Moore’s Law of doubling every two years.  Sir Michael Moritz of Sequoia Capital touts that the smartphone you carry in your pocket is now equivalent to a $35 million computer in 1975. There are no sacrifices when it comes to viewing content on your phone, except maybe a little squinting here and there. 

Time-shifting represented 53% of TV viewing last year, due to tremendous growth of DVRs and VOD, up from 29% just two years ago. The result is that consumers no longer have channel conflict -- just channel choice.

Yet, despite these significant changes, media industry behavior seems to have hardly progressed beyond the era of VCRs and landlines when you consider that:

Big data can deliver instant audience information, but brands still rely on focus groups for insights and asking viewers to self-report on their behavior.

Consumers are interconnected to each other and access info across screens, but agencies still plan and activate media in a manual fashion across online, offline and channel silos.

Consumers now make purchase decisions at all moments, but marketers still use the old-world funnel to drive strategy and traditional metrics like reach and frequency for measurement.

Indeed, the media industry continues to try and fit the future into the containers of the past: focus groups, panel ratings, channel planning, purchase funnels, manual execution. These are blunt instruments. It’s time to break out!

Marketers who want to capitalize of the future of media can start with the following strategies:

Follow the eyeballs and seize the moment. Despite the tremendous growth of digital, TV is still king of all media, as shown by Nielsen’s Total Audience Report and ZenithOptimedia’s Advertising Expenditure Forecast. Furthermore, must-see-TV such as sports, premieres and awards shows still reach critical masses and are consumed live despite trends towards time-shifting and on-demand viewing. Think of these as shared media experiences that are ripe for amplification and conquest.

Deliver an emotional stimulus and capture attention through message bursts. TV ads are great for tugging at the heart strings through sight, sound and motion. However, to truly create resonance, a commercial message can no longer be restricted to the TV screen. Instead it must be simultaneously distributed cross-screen through digital media so that bursts of brand messaging surround consumers at the right times. Consumers are increasingly multi-tasking, with 87% of them using other devices while watching TV. Leverage TV synced ads via online video, display, mobile, social and search to make sure your brand connects.

Blend TV data and social data for measurement and planning. TV ad occurrence data can show you where your message was delivered, set-top box data can show tune-in and loyalty, while social data offers a full picture of media value by demonstrating the impact on viewers’ behavior. Combined, these three data sources can give you a full picture of media value. Benchmark this data against previous efforts and future ones, as well as your competitors, to create a continuous marketing plan.

By using all the tools and data already available in today’s cross-screen, programmatic environment brands can truly reach the right person with the right message in the right place at the right time.

Done correctly, media will break out of the containers of the past and thrive in the future. But don’t get too comfortable. With new innovations such as virtual reality, augmented reality and the Internet of Things on the horizon, marketers will always have plenty of poor-fitting containers to break.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this commentary are exclusively the views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage/MyersBizNet management or associated bloggers. Image at top courtesy of

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