Last week I presented Best Practices to a Fortune 500 client. In introducing the project, I used the analogy of becoming a parent for the first time (and besides, it was a great excuse to include a picture of my two-year old daughter in my PowerPoint deck!). A newbie parent can read all the books in the world, receive all the hand-me-down advice from parents and grandparents, and still they will most likely lack a degree of conviction, confidence and assurance that only comes with going through the process a second time.
That’s kind of what it feels like to work in an infant industry and that’s kind of what it feels like to develop and nurture “best practices in training.” But despite the lack of research and/or case history validation, many of these approaches just feel right (intuitively obvious as I would say) or in the case of a new parent, “trusting your gut” is often times the best solution.
Another interesting parallel between parenting and best practices is that both continue to evolve. A grandparent’s advice is just not given the same reverence nowadays based on new approaches, theories and practices. Modern medicine – like technology – has made the practice of bringing up baby – like introducing a new medium to an existing mix – an inevitable part of evolution.
I use this analogy because, for the first time since I began writing this column, my call out to industry luminaries for their opinions, insights and case studies on this week’s best practice yielded nothing. Akin to being a new parent, marketers trying to deliver on the best practice of tapping into the simultaneous consumption of media are doing so by trusting their gut.
There certainly isn’t a lack of data to suggest that this behavioral shift needs to be taken careful notice of. And this trend is exacerbated by the newly crowned Millennials who are avid media multi-taskers (just pop into your teenage kid’s room if you need further proof).
What was once thought to be a significant cannibalistic threat towards the very existence of television might very well turn out to be complementary. This is not to say that the Web hasn’t already made considerable inroads into TV’s equity. It has. It is not, however, and probably never will be, a replacement for the Tube.
In fact, throughout the history of media, no medium has ever replaced its predecessor. What typically does happen is that a new medium (often an improvement on the ones before) finds its particular sweet spot use and takes up this role together with the symphony of existing touch points.
It is widely held that TV delivers unparalleled emotion (awareness) whereas radio has its particular niche during drive time (consideration). Direct mail has always been the response medium of choice (action), while print is utilized predominantly as a means to tap into high affinity audiences through a series of relevant support or proof points (message association). So what is the Web’s role? Some believe (myself included) that it’s a little of everything; however, with this claim comes a degree of danger in terms of being labeled as a Jack of all media, master of none. Others believe its sweet spot lies in the power of pull or the depth of interactivity-based involvement (I have my other foot in this camp).
Where both assertions fall short, however, is that they hold that mediums are mutually exclusive and in (best) practice, they are not.
Smart marketers (that would be you) have begun to tap into the power of combining media. In part, this is without question a form of advanced integration (unknown to the majority of the “traditional” world), which harnesses a powerful consumer insight – the simultaneous consumption of multiple media.
According to the recent SIMM study from BIGresearch:
- 32.7% of males and 36.4% of females regularly watch TV when they go online
- 23.8% of males and 29.1% of females regularly go online when they are watching TV
- 16.8% of males and 22.2% of females regularly watch TV when they read email.
The study concludes the following: Today’s problem is, while the media planning tools have stayed the same, the media forms, the consumer’s use of media, the sheer abundance of media alternatives and formats and the rise of electronic forms of interactive media have radically changed the way media is used and consumed by audiences.
The implications are as follows:
- There are synergies associated with addressing dual media consumption
- Simultaneous programming (i.e. Web and TV for example) is one way to reach consumers who would otherwise have slipped through the cracks
- In addition, this is a surefire way to reinforce the message and overall impact through increased frequency
- Calls-to-action from TV to Web offer a conversion path of least resistance
- Increased home adoption of broadband, together with home-networking and wi-fi set up will continue to build momentum around simultaneous media consumption patterns.
Network and cable stations have been tottering around in this particular sandbox for a while now. Some examples that spring to mind are:
- Game Show Network’s play-along-at-home efforts
- ABC’s Enhanced TV with programming such as the “Academy Awards”, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and “Monday Night Football”.
Enhanced TV leveraged the dual TV and PC usage, by involving at-home users with the live programming. TV commercials were not only synchronized with banner placement on the game console, they were integrated into the game.
Users answered questions about the commercials to score extra points.
Over 19MM viewers experienced the Enhanced TV production of "Who Wants to be a Millionaire" since its debut March 28, 2000, with an average connect time of 39 minutes. And 97% of Enhanced TV Users say they will use Enhanced TV again.
- Fox Sport’s Virtual Manager – sponsored by Sprint (see below)
This week’s practice focused on TV and the Web, but print and radio have roles to play as well in the ever morphing montage of media.