An Evolving Medium
Digital media has evolved in many ways since it was first introduced in the early days of the Internet. It has changed consumers’ buying habits and influenced the way parents raise and interact with their children. Digital media itself has changed, too.
Fifteen years ago, we didn’t have e-books, iTunes or many of the things we take for granted today. And because of those changes, we now live in a much faster-paced world. Instead of hearing a song and wondering what it is, you can Shazam it and download that song minutes later on your smart phone. Traditional media has also been turned upside down, with news breaking on blogs and Twitter instead of on radio or television. Along with digital media, digital ads have evolved as well.
For example, Procter & Gamble—one of the largest advertisers in the world—is now taking an “optimization” approach to its digital strategy. This means that P&G is using data to constantly tweak and improve their creative. This strategy has affected the background color for Pantene hair care ads. Procter & Gamble learned orange happens to be more effective on Facebook. These optimization tweaks go beyond Facebook and impact their overall social media content as well.
In the beginning, online display advertising was a way to fund websites without asking users to pay for access to a site. All you had to do was put up a simple GIF or JPG banner ad. Today, the options are nearly endless. With digital media, you can now use video, audio, animation, games and other devices to promote your company or product. It’s the Wild West of the twenty-first century—the Digital Frontier, if you will.
What Was Effective Yesterday May Not Be Effective Tomorrow
On the Digital Frontier, digital media evolves every day. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. As an example, General Motors re-evaluated their digital strategy on Facebook and decided to pull all digital ads. In fact, GM bluntly stated that ads on Facebook “don’t work” and pulled their $10 million account. However, GM still spends close to $40 million annually on Facebook marketing, so they continue to have a relationship with the social media site. However, from an effectiveness standpoint, GM decided that paid ads weren’t working for them in that medium.
In the realm of traditional newspapers, thanks to websites like Craigslist, a lot of advertising dollars have been lost. Yet even with the many problems newspapers have had with slashed budgets and reduced staff, there may be a glimmer of hope for them in the digital realm.
It turns out, consumers who read online newspapers respond really well to digital ads, according to a new survey by the Newspaper Association of America. The survey found that 66% of respondents said they act on digital ads displayed within a digital newspaper edition. So new opportunities are always being created.
Speaking of digital newspapers, sites such as The Huffington Post are now using dynamic content to keep their websites fresh and updated. Stories are placed according to their popularity. So an article that gets a lot of clicks and shares will stay front and center on the homepage, while less popular articles get pushed to other areas of the website.
With digital media constantly evolving, Adidas recently launched its first brand campaign on Tumblr. This comes two months after Tumblr announced it would delve into paid online advertising. Just before to the 2012 UEFA European Championship, Adidas created an official soccer Tumblr blog. Similar to Pinterest, the blog features famous players and fresh content and will attempt to build a large community of fans via Tumblr.
Shared Content Is the Future:
Whatever You Do, Make It Relevant
It has been widely believed that content shared between friends and peers carries more weight than paid advertisements and now, General Electric has proof. Working with the website Buzzfeed, GE learned that people exposed to their content via sharing had a significantly higher lift in positive attitudes toward the company than people exposed to the same content via paid placements.
So what can other companies learn from this? Well, for one, it’s important to make digital media and ads relevant and interesting. You have to engage consumers. Without that in your communications, people aren’t going to share it with their friends on Facebook, mention it on Twitter or blog about it. This isn’t to say that companies can do without paid media, but businesses need to be smart about it. Without brand advocacy from consumers, you’ll be doing business with one hand tied behind your back.
Whatever your digital strategy, you need a partner to guide you
The web is a fairly consumer-friendly entity. However, it is far more sophisticated for businesses than it was in the early years. It’s smart to team up with media-savvy companies who understand the evolving digital media landscape and consumer trends.
For example, did you know that consumers will soon be able to navigate 180 degrees in embedded videos? It’s called “immersive video,” and it’s just one of many new technologies that will be coming to market soon.