New Media Marketing
As the “new” in “new media” begins to wear off more and more companies are realising the potential that the Web can offer in developing their businesses.
In contrast with only a few years ago, the commissioning of many websites has shifted from the “me too” mentality of wanting a site merely because everybody else has one, to a more considered and serious decision based on how the media can help boost the bottom line.
Web design consultancies have largely shifted their point of view as well. From initially creating websites that just looked pretty, the “front end” design now often takes a back seat to a site’s functionality and content.
Consumer spending over the internet is now very big business, with global online sales running into billions of pounds annually. Consumer confidence in parting with their money online is growing and as a result many companies now attribute a percentage of annual sales to their online activity.
So, as a marketeer considering allocating a share of that oh so precious marketing budget to new media, exactly what options are there actually open to you?
Michael Stewart works at Yorkshire agency JDA where, as new media director, he is tasked with advising the agency’s clients on how they can make best use of new media.
He says: “If people aren’t doing any new media activity at all then the first place we would consider is the Web. We would take a look and ask: is there any opportunity in interactive TV? Is there any opportunity in SMS? There’s more in SMS than people think. Then, is there any in multimedia? Our recommendations are based on where the budget can be spent most effectively to achieve their marketing goals.”
The breadth of choice provided by the media has been expanding over the last few years. Where before, the term “new media” referred solely to the internet, now the media is made up of several different channels including interactive television, SMS text messaging, viral e-mail marketing and on-site touch-screen technology. The leaps and bounds that have been made technologically in the field of mobile communications have added even more dimensions, with mobile marketing now a formidable weapon in some marketeer’s armouries.
James Raffo, new media manager at recruitment company Blue Arrow, has found the range of channels a major boon when it comes to attracting candidates.
He explains: “The main new media channel we use is websites, but we also use SMS texting to contact our candidates and we’re developing two-way texting so our candidates can text us back. We’re also looking at location-based texting. It’s technology that provides information based on where you are actually standing. We’re looking at using that in recruitment so you could type in your location and it would say ‘there are twenty jobs from where you are standing.’ We also use case studies on CD-Rom, which involve digital and visual presentation. We run an interactive presentation through our brands for our financial services as well and we’re also looking at developing touch-screen booths that you can go into on the street and look up jobs, as well as booths that will be placed in universities. We’ve also advertised on interactive television.”
As far as communication with customers and potential customers goes, new media has begun to come into its own. The various channels of new media can provide an opportunity for one-to-one interaction with your target market that no other media can boast. This is true whether you are selling your services as a company, news or sports results or promoting a brand.
KCC is one company that uses new media, and specifically the internet, for this latter purpose. The company, which is based in the US, is the owner of well known brand names such as Andrex and Huggies and, explains media executive Kate Frampton, has found the online arena to be a highly successful one for promoting several of its brands.
“The importance of new media to our company varies by brand. For brands like Huggies it’s very important because we do a lot of our customer recruitment online, through the Huggies Club. For a brand like Kotex, online doesn’t play quite such a big part because it’s a low interest brand, but then for Andrex it’s very important. The Andrex site is very youth-orientated and we use online games to draw visitors.”
Online gaming is becoming one of the most frequently used tricks for luring visitors to company websites. Kmpinternet is a consultancy that specialises in designing and implementing online games. Managing director Jon Keefe says: “One of our games, first2zero.com, received more than 350, 000 plays in the first week alone, and Yahoo! recently reported its games sites host 140,000 simultaneous players at peak times, and 3.5bn minutes of online game play per month. We are now actively encouraging our clients, whatever their line of business, to consider the pull of online games. Stanley Casinos, for example, recently used our darts game to help draw visitors to its re-designed casino sites. In a two-month period, visitors per day increased 27-fold with returning visitors increasing 21-fold.”
But games sites aren’t the only ones adding value to their companies.
“New media is very important to us, and increasingly so,” states Jo Houldridge, brand manager at Ideal Boilers. “We revamped our website nearly a year ago now and we’re integrating the website with our offline materials. We use E-shots to keep customers informed of offers and developments and we’ve also had some experience with SMS, although not a lot. We’re always interested in new developments in the field.”
SMS has become one of the sector’s newest toys. Providing a direct link between company and customer, it has the potential for a lot more intimate contact than even a direct marketing campaign can establish. Provided, of course, that it’s done right.
Liane Salthouse, marketing director at new media agency Moonfish, says: “I think there are a couple of things to be nervous about. One is that mobile spam is still happening, which obviously irritates people. The other is that even when people do request information they can often forget that they’ve done it, and so it can be regarded as spam as well.
“But research has shown that people are very receptive to SMS, providing it’s well targeted and delivered timely, and has also shown that brand recognition is very high, because it’s so personal. There is no other media that is as personal as SMS, because your mobile is very personal to you.”
Martin Henson, marketing manager at Ticketmedia, has discovered the advantages SMS has when combined with other media. Ticketmedia is the company that owns the exclusive rights to sell advertising space on the back of the UK’s bus and train tickets.
“SMS is now a major part of what we do,” he explains. “The thing about buses is that it’s primarily a younger audience that see the ads. OK, so a lot of older people get on buses too, but they mainly have passes. The tickets are going to the young people. Something like 90 per cent of school kids ride the bus. The average bus journey takes 17 minutes, during which time they’re sitting there, bored, with a mobile phone and an ad with an SMS competition on it.”
Generally, there seems to be a feeling of optimism. Companies are beginning to trust the Web and see the advantages that the various other new channels can provide for them.
Raffo, at Blue Arrow, states: “I think in our business it’s starting to be taken more seriously. From my point of view, when you’re in new media you can see all the benefits and you are always trying to pioneer. You look at new innovations now and say, ‘we should start developing that so that in two years, when it becomes a big thing, we’ll be ready.’”
Houldridge believes this increase in faith has sprung from the now well-established consumer websites. She says: “The faith in new media is definitely developing, and I think it started off in the consumer arena with sites like Amazon.com, which have become incredibly popular, and spread to the corporate sector.”
Yet despite this growth in confidence, there are still companies that lag in making use of this increasingly effective media.
According to a recent survey conducted by Manchester-based Web and multimedia consultancy eyedea*, several companies in the Manchester area were found to be lacking when it came to an online presence. Of 850 companies surveyed, 18 per cent of them did not have a website, and a further 15 per cent had not updated their site in any way since its initial launch – a sure sign of wasted potential. The main reason for this negligence was found to be the company’s lack of knowledge about the internet and new media in general.
It’s not uncommon for people to be scared of technology they don’t understand, but to allow that fear to impact on your marketing performance could be a drastic mistake.
As Stewart, at JDA, maintains: “Exploiting the internet is not a technology issue, it is a business or a marketing issue.”
*For a full version of the eyedea report visit www.eyedea.co.uk.
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