Moving Targets

From online episodes of favorite television shows to text messaging to podcasts, consumers increasingly expect to be able to consume media when and where they want, on any platform or device, and in any context. As media becomes more and more fragmented, the task for retailers and other marketers grows more complex.

“Capturing the attention of the consumer has never been harder than it is right now,” said Ann Raider, chief strategy officer, Vertis Communications, Baltimore, a leading provider of targeted advertising, media and marketing solutions.

With no one customer group using one type of media exclusively, retailers have to take a broader, integrated approach.

“It’s not just one type of media or another anymore,” Raider explained. “Marketers have to think in terms of multiple media forms that work together, with relevant content that is consistent across the different channels.”

But while there is no question that today’s consumers have many more media options than those of just a few years back, that does not mean they have abandoned traditional forms of media.

“A big fallacy is that major media such as television and radio is out,” Raider said. “It isn’t.”

Rules of Engagement

Media fragmentation is re-writing the rules of customer engagement. To capture the consumer’s attention, Vertis Communications recommends that retailers:

Support multiple platforms for their content and messages—content not available across the spectrum of platforms used by consumers will become irrelevant to them;

Ask permission of consumers who increasingly expect to select and consume their media granularly;

Send relevant messaging based on behavior, attitudes and lifestyle; and

Collaborate more with consumers who, in online discussions, blogs and podcasts, are increasingly creating their own media.

In fact, according to a recent Vertis survey (“Vertis Customer Focus: Retail 2006”), weekly media use has remained fairly consistent over the past six years. The survey found that 84% of total adults surveyed watched prime-time television in the past seven days, up from 82% in 2000. The number of adults who read the newspaper rose to 73% from 71%, and the number who listened to early-morning radio inched up to 67% from 66%.

The survey also illustrated the enduring power of advertising inserts and circulars. In 2006, 69% of respondents said they had read an ad insert/ circular in the past week, up from 61% in 2000.

Weekly Media Use Is Consistent Over Six Years
Which of the following have you done in the past 7 days…?
(Total Adults)
Source: Vertis Communications
Watched TV during prime time82%84%
Read the newspaper71%73%
Read an advertising insert/circular61%69%
Listened to the radio between 6 a.m.-10 a.m.66%67%
Read a magazine60%62%
Surfed the Internet32%53%

“Our research shows that ad inserts are still very relevant, and that people pay attention to them as a point of reference when they shop,” Raider said.

Indeed, ad inserts/circulars beat out all other types of media in the survey when it came to capturing the consumer’s attention. Ads in newspapers and on prime-time television were next on the list.

Adults who prefer inserts also have an affinity for direct mail, according to Raider, who said the two types of marketing media work well together.

“Direct mail is a powerful media link in driving your message to consumers,” Raider said. “It gives you an ROI in a very aggressive way.”

As for new media, it is still very much in its infancy. In the Vertis survey, for example, 18% of adults said they had paid attention to ads in e-mail in the past seven days (by contrast, 64% said they paid attention to an ad in a circular).

“The excitement of e-mail and mobile marketing is still unfolding,” Raider said. “They are important as another touch-point to the customer, but they are a small percentage of what the customer gets today.”

But there is no question that marketers are beginning to shift dollars from traditional to new media, even though as a percentage of total activity it is still very small, according to Raider.

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