Letters - 11-18 December 2007

EnQii, Experience Communications, Chordiant Software, MEMS TV.

Digital ads must be engaging and relevant to retain consumers' attention.

Brian Boakes, Director of strategy, EnQii

Your recent Outdoor sector must boost its focus on digital outlets (November 27, page 12) raised some interesting issues on the future of the digital outdoor market.

While advertisers have moved on from viewing digital screens simply as moving billboards, there is still a need within the industry to unlock the full potential of the medium.

Industry leaders are starting to agree with the view expressed by your columnist Sue Unerman about the importance of putting ideas into execution, and see the benefits of a complete digital offering, with ideas, content, technology and installation aligned to a consistent and effective brand message.

Redefining audiences for the digital medium will be a crucial step in ensuring the future growth and development of outdoor advertising. Times of day, for example, break up audiences into different groups - the mindset of commuters and receptiveness to messaging will be different to that of people heading into town for the evening - so content needs to be adapted and targeted to each specific group.

Having identified target groups, the next step is to ensure that content is relevant to the journey and frame of mind of the customer.

Consumers in shopping centres and Tube stations are not captive audiences, they are passing through. Content must be sufficiently engaging and relevant to catch their attention and, ideally, deliver a short-term benefit to the consumer.

Interactive elements, such as SMS, Bluetooth or Near Field Communications (NFC), can also be incorporated to actively connect the consumer with the brand. Optimising these elements will not only interrupt the consumer from their daily routine, but also engage them and initiate a call to action.

Comms planning requires a collective approach

Koen Smeets, Communications planning, Experience Communications

In the article Whose idea is it anyway? (20 November, page 27), both creative and media agencies still claim they are better placed to "take the lead" in the communications planning process. But do they really believe clients will get the best value if one agency tells the other what to do? And isn't "taking the lead" completely against the principle of "integrated" communications?

In order to get the best results, we believe in a collaborative approach between all agencies involved.

Developing the insights that lead to the "big idea" will be more insightful when all parties, including the client, contribute. The actual development of the big idea, however, is best done by an independent communications planning agency to ensure it is not biased towards any specific discipline.

Once the big idea has been developed, the various agencies come up with their most creative ideas on how to communicate it.

To avoid agencies coming up with ideas that deliver the highest revenue for their business, the communications planning agency evaluates the return on investment of the various ideas against the business objectives.

Knowing the ideas will be judged on ROI, the agencies' creative output will be focused to create competitiveness rather than demotivation, which might occur if they are subordinates to a lead agency that limits their input.

Once the comms plan with the highest ROI ideas has been developed, the various agencies can start "working their magic" on the selected ideas and claim their part of the action - resulting in increased integrated thinking.

The final result: the client receives the best value from their agencies and a campaign that delivers an optimised ROI, while the agencies create more valuable creative products for their clients - a clear win-win situation.

2008 offers marketers the chance to get personal

Rob Walker, Vice-president, decisioning and marketing, Chordiant Software

Facebook has taken digital advertising to a breakthrough level with the launch of Beacon, an advertising system based on customer behaviour and the interests of their nearest and dearest.

Its use of customer data has certainly raised a few eyebrows and ensures that the use of customer data will be a key issue for media owners and marketers to consider in 2008, long after the user protests have died down.

Despite initial concerns, the reality is that the system marks a new era for targeting and leveraging the wealth of data available for advertisers and marketers alike. Used properly, customer data can provide astute and personalised customer interaction that is beneficial to both the business and the customer.

This is already happening and the knock-on effect has been that consumers are growing increasingly accustomed to being targeted at an individual level, based on their interests and behaviour.

Crucially for the marketing industry, consumers are increasingly expecting the same personalised standard with all their brand interaction across all channels, not just the web.

Demographic-based targeting has been on its last legs for the majority of the past year.

However, developments like Google Adwords and Facebook's behavioural based advertising system signal that we are truly approaching the end of an era. 2008 provides marketers with the opportunity to learn from the digital advertiser's lead and ensure that mutually managed customer conversations become a reality, not a dream.

Advertisers should utilise better ethnic channels

Anthony Greenidge, Sales and marketing director, MEMS TV

The move to the Barb measurement system last month by the Asian TV channel Prime TV should be the first step in raising the profile of ethnic channels among UK media planners and buyers.

With people from an ethnic background currently accounting for up to 12 per cent of the UK population and the forecast that ethnic group spending power will reach £300bn by 2010, there will be a growing focus on how best to reach and engage with this valuable audience.

There is increasing research evidence that ethnic viewers engage better with both the programming and ads on their own channels.

According to the UK Ethnic Survey, 90 per cent of ethnic minorities noticed an absence of blue chip advertisers from their specialist channels and felt excluded. And the UK Asian TV Audience Survey found that 43 per cent of Asians say they are more likely to buy products advertised on UK Asian channels.

Some major brands, such as Ikea, Adidas and Mercedes have recognised this change and have conducted specific campaigns aimed at ethnic minorities, with substantial brand equity and revenue benefits.

I am sure that advertisers and agencies will not want to miss out on the enhanced opportunities to engage with these audiences.

- We welcome your letters and e-mails by Wednesday to mwnewsdesk@haymarket.com or MediaWeek, Haymarket Business Media, 174 Hammersmith Road, London, W6 7JP, or fax us 020 8267 8020.

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