Marketing When Channels Blur: Put The Message, Not The Medium, First

February 2, 2021

By Roey Franco

TarikVision/Shutterstock.com

How can marketers most effectively reach consumers in 2021?

Marketers must think flexibly when allocating budgets instead of rigidly assigning them to channels such as video, radio, OOH, social media, and so on. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we need to be agile as conditions quickly change.

Let’s be open-minded as we activate, measure, analyze, and learn what works. We should think more about impact and less about silos. Budgets that were once based on historical performance or general trends should instead be finely tuned in real-time to adjust to changes in behaviors and lifestyles. We can’t presume in today’s fast-changing environments that any channel will necessarily deliver as hoped. Consider how DOOH seemed dead in the water then roared to a comeback during COVID as regions opened up and marketers saw they could gain unique share of voice while targeting consumers who’d been over-saturated by TV ads in the home.

Let’s plan across channels rather than tie ourselves to specific line items, too. Demand-side platforms (DSPs) help facilitate more fluid movement of impressions among channels, and can also help maximize targeted reach by enabling strategies like omnichannel retargeting, sequencing, and frequency capping, and optimization tactics such as multi-variate testing of creative elements by audience segment. AI, too, will progress this year, perhaps enabling live tests of ads assembled from extracted elements — an audio track, here, some images there — then testing the automated assemblage through dynamic creative optimization (DCO) or even recreating the combination of assets as a video creative and testing its performance.

 

What’s in a Name?

Today, the lines between channels, devices, and even creative types are blurring into each other. A piece of social content can become a powerful native ad that’s served in a web page’s display slot. Billboards shown on a facade inside a multiplayer game can, likewise, captivate a consumer. Does it matter whether those are display ads, DOOH, or something else as long as they work? With apologies to Marshall McLuhan, the medium may no longer be the message.

If ad units shown on in-taxi screens boost a brand’s outcomes, then let’s assign budget to optimize for those impressions rather than worry about whether they’re TV, video, DOOH, or all of the above. If audio messages played on a music streaming service through a smart TV deliver results, does it matter whether they’re part of a TV or audio buy? There’s a newly emerging category called “audio OOH” in which the ads play over networked speakers into retail establishments. My team is more concerned with how well they perform than whether they’re financed by audio, streaming, or in-store marketing budgets. They’ll advocate for fluidly moving among any and all of them, depending on what works.

Nimble and sophisticated marketers can and should conceive creative campaigns and allocate budgets to address consumers’ changing behaviors and lifestyles, be prepared to move messages among mobile, DOOH and home screens and audio devices as market conditions demand. As the economy re-emerges and new consumer habits form, we’ll again observe new patterns in shopping, travel, and media consumption. Consumers constantly show how deftly they shift among screens. Let’s likewise adjust our mindsets and our media investment strategies, and seize on the best opportunities with the deft touch needed for these times.

Roey Franco is VP of product and innovation at XAXIS.


The views and opinions expressed in Marketing Maestros are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.


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