Bob Dylan most likely didn’t intend those words to include the convergence of social and print and digital media, but the song lyrics seem an appropriate mantra for the way technology is advancing. Success in today’s Smartphone and iPad world means figuring out a way to reach all consumers in a manner that is easily and readily accessible to them.
Plainly stated, from a marketing stance, embracing media convergence with open arms is the way to go. This realization was especially relevant to me when I recently observed my two-year-old cousin — who is still working on speaking in complete sentences — navigate her way through all the apps on her mama’s iPad, locate her favorite game, and begin to play. It is a digital world we live in and, oh yes, the times they are a-changin’.
Advancements in technologies are essential for success in a growing and changing world, especially in marketing. In a recent study, Forrester stated, “For the first time ever, the average time U.S. consumers report spending online is the same that they report spending watching offline TV.” The study did say that consumers are not “turning away from television: they are finding the time for their increased online viewing in various ways, including decreased use of print media.”
POINTS OF PERSONALIZED CONTACT
1 watching TV
2 texting responses
3 tweeting friends
5 radio ads
6 Facebook chatting
7 phone applications
8 brand’s website
With convergence, the first point of personalized contact a consumer may have with a brand may be when they are watching their favorite Wednesday night television program. The second time may be when they text in a response to a contest while watching the program. The third could be when they tweet their friends about the contest they just entered. The fourth point of contact may be when they see the same contest promoted on a billboard during the morning commute, while the fifth time is when they are listening to a radio ad and the sixth is when they are chatting on Facebook later that day. Finally the seventh time is when they are using an app on their mobile phone and decide to click on the link to the brand's website for interaction number eight. However, in order for this kind of convergence to be successful, the marketer must create ads that are special to the consumer and that are cohesive and loyal to the product truths — without interrupting the consumer’s already busy lifestyle.
One problem with this convergence of advertising is that consumers can become too inundated with information. How do marketers communicate to consumers through multiple venues without overextending their welcome and when does too much information become too much to handle? “People are turned off by advertising that causes them to stop what they are doing and disrupts their experience,” states Deb Swider, Director, eMarketing at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). “The mobile advertising solutions that are going to work are those that are respectful of user experience.” Perhaps with convergence and more thoughtful and unobtrusive means of advertising, the days of pop-up and floating ads will come to an end, granting less interrupted time online and a more valuable advertising experience.
With all the technological capabilities available now — from being able to use mobile devices to photograph and scan a barcode for product information, to using social networks as a research tool for purchase advice — consumers have marketing information at their fingertips and more of a choice of what they view. Advertising must be more personal and meaningful to the consumer, causing convergence to be more important than ever. Now it is the marketers’ job to find effortlessly accessible means of marketing to encourage the consumer to actively choose their products.
A PERFECT EXAMPLE OF THIS TYPE OF CONVERGENCE IS THE PEPSI REFRESH PROJECT.
This campaign allows consumers to view their ads while watching TV by using their Twitter and Facebook accounts or their favorite search engine. The Pepsi Refresh Project permits individuals, groups and businesses to submit ideas for projects that will enhance their communities; winners are given grants of up to $250K sponsored by PepsiCo. Pepsi marketed this project by showing television commercials and, while the vast majority of the PRP is web-based, awareness of the online site appears via TV commercials. In one ad, people are shown drinking Diet Pepsi and holding signs that say, “I care about trees” or “I care about my community.” At the end of the commercial is the link to the Pepsi Refresh Project website. A second television commercial brings in celebrity endorsement with Demi Moore discussing the project she is presenting for a PRP grant. This TV commercial uses clips of a young girl typing in the web address for the PRP with pictures of websites related to the project Demi is proposing. Twitter also plays a role in this ad campaign because not only does Pepsi promote the PRP through its own tweets, but Demi Moore promotes it on her Twitter feed as well. There are also countless Facebook pages promoting individual PRPs, allowing each group to promote their idea while all of them collectively endorse Pepsi.
ONE PROBLEM WITH THIS CONVERGENCE OF ADVERTISING IS THAT CONSUMERS CAN BECOME TOO INUNDATED WITH INFORMATION.
With this project, Pepsi is able to reach consumers via TV, Twitter, celebrity endorsement, social networking and Internet ads, as well as making a personal connection with the consumer and showing that Pepsi, as a brand, cares. And with the use of mobile devices — where consumers can watch YouTube videos on the website or through an app, check both Facebook and Twitter, and access any website — ads for the PRP and any other marketer are with the consumer continuously. Continuously and unobtrusively.
What this means for advertising is that convergence is a must for the future. A future where print advertising is not obsolete, but where it is bolstered by a myriad of forms that beautifully tie together the entire message of the ad: that a company is willing to expand their branding for the sake of their customers’ convenience. A future where the product takes on a role that is more than just something to purchase, but an easy and conscious lifestyle choice. A future where toddlers properly use an iPad before they can even make the statement, “I want to play Dora on your iPad, Mama.” That future is happening now and, most definitely, the times they are a-changin’.