Over the years marketing has, needless to say, gone through several changes. From newspapers to posters to radio to television there are now more ways to get your brand message across to consumers and/or customers than there are hours in the day.
But whether it's an advertorial in your morning paper, a poster at the train station, a sponsored slot on your favourite radio station or an ad during the late night movie the aim is the same: to reach the target audience and make them remember it.
And now recently the established marketing squad has been joined by a new, younger, team-mate. That team-mate being, of course, new media.
During the 1990s the hype surrounding new media, and specifically the internet, had built it up to be the saviour of our lost world. It was perched on top of a glass tower and when, with the turning of the new millennium, that tower inevitably shattered all too many people were ready to laugh off the net as a passing craze. A fad invested in by too many young people with too much money.
There have been those, however, that didn't.
After everybody's high expectations came down to ground level more realistic thinking has been employed.
It's really only now, after the dust from the dot.com crash has begun to settle, that new media is really starting to come into its own as a marketing and communications tool.
But just how effective is it? How cost effective is it? And what can it actually do for your company?
For some answers The Marketeer tracked down some clients that have been successfully using new media as a marketing tool and asked them just how important the growing field of new media is for their companies.
"It's really important," states Paul Fellon, group brand manager for Rizla UK. "The way I look at it is that we've all heard of relationship marketing. Well, the internet is the best way to realise relationship marketing and it is very cost effective. It is an important part of our marketing mix."
Julian Hoddy, online marketing manager at games developer Take 2 Interactive, uses new media to promote the latest games releases. He says: "I think new media is incredibly important, even more so than traditional print campaigns and direct marketing these days. If you asked us about new media about a year ago I'm sure we would have said something different though. I would say the power of new media and the incredible feedback you can get has only just been realised by us in the last year, after running several very successful campaigns."
Outdoor clothing brand Regatta is another to nod its' agreement. Marketing director Graham Rickard remarks: "Although the growth of new media has been slower than anticipated, Regatta understands its importance to business - particularly when used for marketing activities. The website has become an increasingly important and relevant marketing tool for Regatta and we are continuing to invest in this area."
So marketing managers are once again starting to have faith in the strange new world of new media. But what is it actually doing for their companies?
Amnesty International, the human rights organisation formed in the early 1990s, has found the internet, email and SMS to be vital tools for recruiting new members and keeping existing members updated as to events and news as and when they happen.
Mike Onyeka, campaign organiser and web administrator for Amnesty International, explains: "The use of new media for Amnesty International has been tremendously positive. It has taken us into the new century properly. It has made things easier and cheaper overall. When Amnesty International was formed in 1991 it had members in 42 countries. Since we launched the website (www.stoptorture.org) we have expanded to having members in 188 countries - from countries we haven't even sent information into. We now have members in usually 'closed' countries such as China. In terms of reach and being effective it's been a very positive experience for us."
On the commercial side, Littlewoods has been investing heavily in internet technology. The company's main website, www.littlewoods.com, is split into three sections: Littlewoods Index, Littlewoods Extra and Littlewoods All Inclusive, each targeted at a slightly different market. Over the last two years the revenue gained from the three sites' e-commerce has been on the steady increase.
"We're enabling people to shop where they want when they want to," says media relations manager Sam Ruston. "E-commerce is an expanding side of the business. It's great for people who have those busy lives, or they just want to order from home and don't want to have to phone somebody up. It's just the basic convenience of it all. There'll always be people who want to see a product up close and will go into a store to buy it, but now potential customers have more choice. This is an add-on rather than a replacement."
St Helens-based Pilkington Glass is another major company finding out how to work new media to its advantage. Gary Millar, head of e-business for Pilkington Primary Products Europe, transferred from the company's Australian operation to develope e-commerce and focus marketing information to the different audiences who visit pilkingtons websites. He says: "I think the use of new media is growing because you can use it to potentially hit a wider, broader audience. You can start to customise sections according to the segmentation of your market. When selling glass you have different segments - you have John Citizen, trade users, architects and other influencers. You can provide relevant information to satisfy the different needs."
Also, as the use of new media becomes more popular (not to mention successful) and becomes a larger part of the marketing mix, some of the individuals who deal with it are finding their roles changing.
Natalya Barker, new media manager at holiday giant JMC, is one such person. She comments: "My role here moved from more of a marketing role to more of a commercial role. I think websites usually start life in the marketing department and after a while move to being a standalone department. I think there's just a shift from marketing to commercial."
"My role has totally changed since we've started dealing with new media," states Take 2's Hoddy. "I now work with each product manager on each title we release. Their response and interest in doing more online activity has really grown with each game they do. Again, I feel it's down to the amazing feedback they get on the marketing spend."
And individual marketing roles are not the only things that new media is changing. For years the larger client companies based in the English regions have tended to turn to London to spend their marketing budgets - showing a complete ignorance of the high standard of work produced by agencies in the regions. Happily, new media seems to be bucking that particular trend.
Rizla's Fellon is based in Bristol and has a long-standing relationship with Leeds-based Sense Internet. He says: "New media, unlike some of the other marketing sectors, offers agencies a way to build their businesses up without moving to London. The way we've cultivated our relationship and communicated with each other over the years proves you don't need to be in London. It's refreshing. It doesn't have to be London-centric, new media guys are fortunate that way."
Barker, at JMC in London, agrees. She has worked with Manchester's Magnetic North on the company's Thomas Cook brand. "Location doesn't really matter because they were always brilliant," she says. "Personally, working with an agency outside of town hasn't caused me any problems. As long as they've got the creative and they are value for money I don't see the problem."
"That's the beauty of the internet," observes Onyeka at Amnesty International in London. The organisation's website was designed by Manchester-based Moonfish. "New media breaches the time gap. People can communicate in real time so between here and Manchester makes no difference. The distance has been no problem whatsoever."
Perhaps with new media being the most recent addition to the marketing mix the age-old prejudices have passed it by. Fortunately, with as many companies favouring the North there's now an increased chance that those prejudices might never take root.
New media itself, however, seems to have well and truly taken root. Now that people are no longer pegging it as the future of absolutely everything and embracing it as the formidable marketing and communications tool that it is its real value is beginning to be seen.
For clients who have not yet decided to include new media in their marketing mix the words of one Howard Hesling, head of new business at full-service production company Mezzo, are particularly well suited: "I remember when it was revolutionary for people to have a fax number. Now it isn't, it's a mandatory thing. With new media it's not a case of should we or shouldn't we, you have to."
Company: Pilot Interactive
Web address: www.pilotinteractive.co.uk
Pilot Interactive, a part of the Advertising Principles Group, has a knack of producing eye-catching sites with a high entertainment value. Claiming to deliver 'user focused, integrated brand solutions' the firm has this year made further inroads into the prestigious NestlÃ© business by designing the popular Aero allbubblenosqueak.co.uk site. Other highlights of the past twelve months include their acquisition of the Codemasters E-Toys account and the production of 'dance studio content' for Disney.
Company Name: Netpromote Ltd
Location: Manchester, London, Perth
Number of Staff: Seven
With a presence in three UK cities and clients the likes of IBM and Hasbro, Netpromote's previously low profile has belied an agency clearly on the move. Specialising in the invaluable field of search engine optimisation, Netpromote continually secures high search engine rankings for its clients' websites, as well as creating submission strategies and e-marketing campaigns. The agency aims to expand further in the following year to establish a European presence in Holland and Luxembourg and to form partnerships with media companies marketing websites.
Company Name: Splinter
Number of Staff: 10
Splinter works across a range of new media and design disciplines, from HTML programming through to identity development and branding. With a strong emphasis on creativity, Splinter has built a client list that now includes names such as BT and the North West Development Agency. Projects last year included a CD-Rom for BT and an architectural 'fly-through' programme for the headquarters of Waterways Ireland. This year the agency has vowed to extend its' client base further as well as developing current relationships with clients.
Company Name: New Mind
Number of Staff: 11
With a firm emphasis on effectiveness for its clients, New Mind specialises in database integration, content management and on- and off-line promotion as well as website design. The agency has developed a number of unique web-based software applications to provide an added service to clients, who include the North West Tourist Board, East Lancashire Partnership and Rage Software.
Company Name: Webshed
Number of Staff: 32
Five years in and with 32 staff and clients the likes of Motorola, Delta Airlines and Channel 4, Liverpool's Webshed is clearly a regional new media success story. The agency's offering spreads over both off- and online - covering everything from web design through to IT support, graphic design and print management. Over 2002 Webshed aims to continue its current success and extend its new media abilities as well as add further to a client portfolio already impressive in its' diversity.
Company Name: Scope
Number of Staff: 25
Scope specialises in delivering the best possible digital media marketing solutions to its clients. The agency is a keen advocate of educating clients as to the advantages of digital media and aims to push the digital further up the list of clients' marketing priorities. Scope last year completed projects for, amongst others, HSBC, First Direct and tesco.com and this year aims to 'improve, satisfy, deliver' to clients.
Company Name: Eyedea Ltd
Number of Staff: 10
The ever-expanding Eyedea Group has a field of specialisation which stretches from web design through to multimedia, e-commerce, screensavers and banner ads. Last year, in addition to producing projects for clients the likes of Dr Pepper, MUTV and Airtours, Eyedea launched a second company under the Eyedea Group banner, named Eyesite, moved into the Point of Purchase sector and secured a London office. As if this wasn't enough already, Eyedea has pledged to continue its growth this year.
Company Name: Attik
Number of Staff: 12
Huddersfield, London, New York, San Francisco and Sydney. There are not many regional agencies (if any others at all) that can boast a presence in such a wide range of locations. The new media arm of Attik was formed three years ago and specialises in interactive branding, viral marketing and SMS marketing - boasting a client list which includes the almighty Microsoft, Ford and Carlton. Attik says that this year its' primary goal is to continue rebuilding the client confidence in new media that waned after the dotcom crash.
Company Name: Head First
Number of Staff: Seven
Head First has built up an impressive presence since its formation less than three years ago, specialising in the leisure and technology sectors. The agency produces both off- and on-line solutions for a range of games development and entertainment companies which include THQ, Take 2 Interactive and Kidz Biz. Head First states that it believes there is still a long way to go in the field of using the internet to forge one-to-one relationships with customers, and will no doubt continue to pioneer ways that ensure its clients are as close to their customers as possible.
Company Name: Leighton Media
Number of Staff: 65
Leighton prides itself on the high degree of success it has achieved in delivering real results to its clients. Last year Leighton produced a highly successful project for Reg Vardy, redesigned the Pretty Polly website and launched the company's new model, Tania Strecker, and produced a digital marketing campaign for Sunderland Association Football Club. Other clients include British Airways, Australian Tourist Commission, Bradford and Bingley and Siemens. The agency also has a policy of providing a free initial consultation to clients.
Company Name: River Interactive
Number of Staff: 15
River Interactive, previously known as Clucas Ward Forster, has its' background in traditional marketing, enabling it to get involved with projects right from the planning and research stages. The agency has a policy of developing 'business cases' for projects before work begins, to make sure its clients fully understand the motives and reasoning behind pieces of work and what they aim to achieve. 2002 is set to be an action-packed year for River Interactive, as it moves into new premises, expands staff numbers and launches a new intranet software application.
Company Name: Gemonline Interactive
Number of Staff: Eight
In only three years Gemonline Interactive has brought on board clients the pedigree of JJB Sports, Ladbrokes and Warburtons, proving that age and size really don't have to matter. An agency with a firm understanding of both the front-end design and back-end programming that make up successful websites as well as experience in marketing, Gemonline will continue its growth this year, both in terms of business and reputation.
Company Name: Magneto TCW
Number of Staff: 18
Formed originally in 1999 as Magneto Interactive, last year the agency merged with sister company Tucker Clarke Williams to become Magneto TCW. With the expertise of both agencies joined, Magneto now offers services ranging from traditional graphic design to viral promotions, games and web design. Sources of pride last year were completed projects for Emap's Big City Network, a multimedia sales tool for Urban Splash and a promtional CD-Rom for Astra Zeneca, amongst others. The agency bills itself as being 'interactivity with strategic planning and creativity built in - not bolted on'.
Company Name: Sense Internet
Number of Staff: 21
After seven years in operation, Sense Internet sits with a comfortable 21 staff, impressive turnover and enviable client list, which includes Travelodge, British Airways, Rizla, Imperial Tobacco and Helly Hanson. The agency sells itself on its brand promotion and marketing expertise as well as its experience in crafting intranet and extranet applications for clients. In 2002, Sense aims to maintain the agency's image and reputation as a profitable and successful agency with a strong team-spirit and long-term retained clients.
Company Name: Magnetic North Interactive Ltd
Number of Staff: 14
Magnetic North has only been in business for two years, a fact that must scare a large number of its competitors. With 14 staff, a turnover of £1.2m and clients with names like Benetton Group, Kellog's, Mars UK and Coca-Cola, the agency has enjoyed a rise that has been no less than meteoric. Being formed by breakaway teams from J Walter Thompson and Subnet, Magnetic North enjoys a wealth of both new media and old-school marketing experience - which the agency credits as the secret to its success.
Company: Rapid New Media (www.frankrostron.com)
Established: September 2001
Company: Iris Associates (www.greenandbenz.com)
Sheffield-based Iris has an enviable reputation in design, which appears to translate seamlessly into the often foreboding world of new media. Having worked with clients such as Emap Digital Radio and the Department for Education and Skills, the firm has demonstrated that it has the ability to perform at the highest level and now aims to be 'recognised as one of the best new media designers in the North'.
Company: The Source
Established: October 1999
There can't be too many players on the Northern new media scene that can boast a client list like The Source's. Bosch, Eidos, ITV Digital, Sony Playstation and Virgin Interactive are all fighting to monopolise the time of (in their own words, obviously) 'a dedicated team with an enormous amount of talent, knowledge and enthusiasm.' They are currently on the lookout to consolidate said team with a new general manager and use this as a free recruitment ad...
Company: Smiling Wolf
Small is beautiful and the Smiling Wolf team look like a very attractive proposition indeed. Spawned from much respected Liverpudlian design shop Nonconform, this pack plan to spend 2002 being 'happy' whilst continuing to graft away with the perception that 'functional needn't be dull and creative shouldn't be indulgent.' With a skill set ranging from corporate identity to sound production, the agency has produced work for the FACT Centre and the British Council amongst others.
Established: March 1999
The web address says it all, really. These self-confessed 'techies' are on a mission to make you love computers almost as much as they do. So far, their quest has got off to a flying start, with blue chip boys such as Dr Martens and Huggies opening their eyes, ears and arms to the capabilities of engaging in a little bit of Code-style 'computer loving'. In 2002 they aim to continue demonstrating that it ain't grim up north by 'stealing big accounts from what's left of our London rivals'. Good work, fellas.
Company: McCann I
Established: September 1999
Turnover: £1.2 million
The Bonis Hall behemoth inexorably rolls on. Another discipline, another opportunity for the biggest advertising agency outside the confines of the capital. McCann I, under the auspices of Andrew Thomas, has undoubtedly benefited from its family connections, working on clients of the order of SSL International (Durex et al) and Thomson Holidays since its inception in 1999. 2002 should see further growth for the agency as it continues to build on its reputation for providing solutions across all communication channels.
The team at Technophobia can sleep well at night. Refusing to work with clients who don't fulfill their stringent ethical criteria has enabled them to exploit the internet with a clear conscience, whilst attracting socially responsible businesses such as the Co-operative Bank. Ably led by the Thorne husband and wife combo, the agency claims to offer 'superior levels of service and bespoke innovation' and 'deliver truly secure, robust and reliable solutions'.
Company: Media Mission
Established: June 1999
Led by Glenn Jones, Media Mission is another agency that has diversified from its traditional expertise in design to exploit the commercial possibilities of new media. Its aim of going 'onwards and upwards' in 2002 should be achievable if it continues to attract clients as sexy as Manchester United Soccer Schools and Georgia Pacific. The only real danger for the firm appears to be the fact that it has just moved into the same building as Communique PR - bad influences await...
Turnover: £1.5 million
Visuality can claim to offer the whole spectrum of 'new media' services. From software development to the internet to games design, the Salford Quays outfit are jacks of the whole trade and quite probably masters of it too (judging by the fact that its client list consists of JD Sports, Mitsubishi and the Cancer Research Campaign). The team recently produced a high-profile, and well received, site to support the victims of the September 11 tragedy.
Company: Walsh Simmons (www.laterooms.com)
Turnover: Transaction value £38 million
Walsh Simmons is an almost unique phenomenon. It is an agency that has actually made money out of its own successful string of dotcom brands. The expertise garnered from running sites such as Laterooms.com, easycover.com and holidaydeals.com, has also helped the team attract and advise clients such as Littlewoods and the YHA. The year 2002 should see more of the same for the firm, as it looks forward to the launch of its 'way to go' life insurance brand.
Turnover: £3.8 million
A division of full service giant Poulter Partners, Poulternet succeeds in adding value rather than simply existing as an 'add-on'. The team has a diverse skill set enabling them to work on a broad range of projects that other firms may find somewhat daunting. Evidence of this was provided last year by its successful work on the 'back end' of MTV's Video Clash programme - an innovative show that allowed viewers to choose videos via mobile text messaging. Other clients include KP Nuts, Britvic and William Hill.
Company: Bubble Media
Established: September 1998
A young team that is capable of producing new media delights that are as funky as their name suggests. In a cutting-edge industry Bubble is often acknowledged to be one step ahead of its competitors, creating innovative new media solutions that combine beautiful form with seamless function. The team's skills have so far succeeded in attracting savvy clients such as the National Maritime Museum and enlightened corporate giants like Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
Established: April 2001
STARDOTSTAR could well be lauded as the 'next big thing' - if there wasn't only 2.4 of them. Acknowledged by its marketing peers, and particularly the design fraternity, as one of the 'ones to watch' in the industry, the team has so far produced well-received work for clients such as LWT and Channel 4 (the latter's Music Studio site even scooped a BAFTA award). Founders Gerard and Gareth are planning to expand this year, a move that could see staff levels race to around 4.75.
The client list speaks for itself really - Amnesty International, Sharp Electronics, Lever Faberge and UCI Cinemas to name but a few. It's evident that Moonfish is a serious contender for the Northern new media crown and consistently capable of attracting, and impressing, businesses of the highest calibre. The team apparently pride themselves on "delivering real value" and "seeing technology as an enabler, as a means to an end, and not the end in itself."