Imagine the glee of marketers at the dawn of the internet era â€“ could anyone imagine a more sophisticated, precise way of reaching consumers? By tracking the purchasing habits of its potential customers, marketers could respond with targeted advertising and special offers, resulting in (of course) increased sales.
The past 10 years have been some level of this direct marketing model bear out. Consumers are using technology to learn about marketers, rather than the other way around.
While product consumers use sites such as eBay, YouTube, and Facebook to gather information and share opinions on how they spend their money, an entirely new marketing philosophy is called for, one in which the marketer no longer controls the message.
Unanticipated Consequences for Markets, Marketing and Consumers, Research Directors pinpoint five qualities of success in this new world of digital media marketing.
In this new reality, itâ€™s the consumer who runs the show for the most part, not the marketer â€“ in fact, forget the â€˜consumerâ€™ label altogether.
Take the case of Doveâ€™s Real Beauty campaign a multiphase effort, an underlying theme that subverts traditional beauty product messages of aspiration and perfection. In one ad, full-sized, regular looking women are used. In another, young girls reveal insecurities about their looks, showing the harm done by unrealistic standards set by the industry.
The story of Dove is one of a brand that progressively cedes control. In the 1950s, Doveâ€™s advertising was similar to a World War II military campaign with a heavy bombardment of 30 and 60 second messages with very strong, functional content. It was all delivered with complete control over the message and the media.
That sort of approach isnâ€™t possible in todayâ€™s media rich world and probably wouldnâ€™t be very effective anyway.
The ideas have to belong to the people the marketer is attempting to engage with, and thatâ€™s going to be achieved through indirect methods rather than by going directly at the enemy. Instead of overwhelming consumers with a message, get them talking by presenting a topic they want to discuss. Then stand back and cross your fingers.
When a brand adopts a point of view, rather than simply making a claim for softer skin, for instance, it can become a lighting rod for discourses. Marketer has to be confident that his message can with stand reinterpretation.
The dove ads, for example, have been parodied on late night television, although that level of exposure hasnâ€™t bothered Unilever, Doveâ€™s parent company.
But what does this all boil down to for companies that want to be successful in this relatively new environment? In the working paper, Deighton and Kornfeld discuss five aspects of digital interactivity, including.
Thorough tracing: Firms infer states of mind from the content of a web search and serve up relevant advertising; a market born of search terms develops.
Ubiquitous connectivity: As people become increasingly â€œPlugged inâ€ through cell phones and other devices, marketing opportunities become more frequent as well and technology develop to protect users from unwanted intrusions.
As with Napster, Craigslist, and eBay, people participate in the anonymous exchange of goods and services. Firms compete with these exchanges and a marketing service, reputation, and reliability develops.
Social exchanges: People build identities in virtual communities like Koreaâ€™s Cyworld (90%of Koreans in their 20s are members) Firms may then sponsor or co-opt communities. A market in community develops that competes on functionality and status.
Cultural exchanges: While advertising has always been part of popular culture, technology has increased the rate of exchange and competition for Buzz. In addition to Doveâ€™s campaign, take the case of BMWâ€™s initiative to hire Hollywood directors and actors to create short, web only films featuring BMWs. In the summer of 2001, the company recorded 9 million downloads.
These five aspects show increasing levels of effective engagement in creating social meaning and identity. The first two through tracing and ubiquitous connectivity change the rules of marketing but donâ€™t alter the traditional paradigm of predator and prey .In the last three that is property, social, and culture exchanges, the marketer has to become someone who is invited into the exchange or is even pursued as in the case of the BMW films as an entity possessing cultural capital.
As digital interactivity increases the contexts in which people use new media, it becomes less and less productive to think of people as consumers alone.
If a company limits its engagement to the part of the personâ€™s life when he or she is thinking about skin care, for example, it diminishes that person and marginalizes the brand. The central idea here is that in the future brands that will be more talked about than talking.