Back in the early days of online, paid search and display network salesmen and web agencies actively attacked TV advertising and sought to carve off a slice of fat, opulent TV budgets for this new thing called “The Internet”. The charges against the goggle box were simple: it was expensive, TV people didn’t work hard and neither did their ads. The inevitable quote: “Half my advertising works, I just don’t know which half” was trotted out before the accountability and reporting levels of display, and search especially, were unveiled like a recently discovered advertising holy grail. Some even proclaimed the death of print; the death of TV and the need to read on paper: the Internet would subsume them all and consign them to the mockery of history.
Fast forward to 2013 and TV hasn’t been killed by digital – it’s had to evolve because of it, sure, but it’s still alive, more diverse than ever, and far from fighting for its life. TV and digital marketing teams still clash, and all too often, the TV and digital teams at large agencies and brands only meet at the Christmas party and marketing team meetings where each is poised to attack the other. At times they are hardly the best of friends.
Which is utter folly. Consumers see no such silos between marketing channels. They don’t care – and how they consume media and brands (and yes brands, they consume you – more now than ever) underlines this. The three-screen trend – TV, computer, mobile – has been well documented for several years. Consumers see a TV ad or product mentioned and, whether it’s immediately or later on, search for it on their computer or mobile. This has been happening for years. A drop in laptop prices, then the advent of the tablet and the smart phone has accelerated this trend, built on a foundation of cheap broadband and home WiFi.
Today, it’s happening consistently in social, too. Mr Consumer sees a brand/product/celebrity/issue on TV, comments about it on Facebook or Twitter, or, taken further, posts a YouTube video. TV and digital are walking hand-in-hand in the consumer’s life. Then there are Smart TVs growing in ownership levels, looming on the horizon.
These devices are symptomatic of the convergence of digital and TV content. A few advertisers have experimented in the US and UK with using music-identifying app Shazam to tap into this trend, encouraging consumers to use the app during TV shows like X Factor and activating on-device content via a song. This provides consumers extra features and a sense of involvement, and data capture and engagement opportunities for brands. Featuring Twitter hashtags or handles during shows has become standard – led by early adopters like the BBC’s use of #HIGNFY and @bbcHIGNFY during Have I Got New For You.
How many brands, however, instruct their agencies to ensure the digital teams are involved in planning from day one? How many instead let the creative/TV team shape the campaign vehicle and timings and then leave the digital team to shoehorn the output into digital? Most, in my experience. This is changing, but far too slowly, and often is only lip service. Whether it’s the overall campaign idea, the creative or the website content, considerations like how it will execute across display advertising, producing pre-roll or social network content are still secondary thoughts. Let alone the poor old website. This is reflected in too many brands’ organisational structures – offline and web teams are too often distant relatives, not close siblings.
Increased attention on content marketing in digital, driven by changes in SEO but also the strategic need to create campaigns ideas that execute well across digital, means more than ever “integration” should be the mantra of agencies and brands. That word has become tired, over-used and abused though. It shouldn’t be. TV and digital are already the best of friends. Consumers introduced them to each other regardless of us all. It’s time that we as an industry changed the way we plan and execute campaigns across every channel to reflect this.
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