"Integration sucks. Unity rocks."
-- Mauro Alencar
Cross-channel, advertising integration. Everyone seems to want it. But as the quote suggests, we may all be after something simpler.
What I'm talking about here is message and concept unity across traditional/offline and non-traditional/online channels (read traditional as print, TV, radio, outdoor, point-of-sale; read non-traditional as interactive). This won't be a rant on the antiquated nature of traditional advertising. This will be an exploration of the current online/offline paradigm (yes, I said paradigm) and how it might be shifted to better serve our collective marketing efforts. All the answers aren't here because no one has them. But there are considerations that help us as we move down the path to smarter, synergized communication.
Here are five things we at Organic consider as we develop interactive experiences for our clients, while partnering with their traditional agencies with the goal of "advertising unity."
1. Ads are merely an entry point. TV, print, radio, outdoor and banner ads should intrigue more than inform. Too much information in your ad? You'll lose people. Ads are merely the door. We create them to invite consumers in to something bigger. We provide just enough information to create a desire to know more. Why? Because the web allows for delivery of robust information via landing pages, microsites and full-blown websites. The same should be true of traditional advertising, so long as it also points a user to that same landing page, microsite or website. When a web experience is well designed and crafted with relevant content, this is where consumers will actually spend time with a brand-beyond fifteen, thirty or sixty seconds. So, create intrigue, and point the consumer to a URL for "more." Sounds simple so far, right? Good.
2. Clients sometimes need guidance when it comes to process. Production lead times in the offline world are longer than those in the online world. We can move, produce and deploy faster. That means the offline advertising assignment for a given project is probably in the hands of the traditional agency long before it gets to the interactive agency. If there's a microsite being developed for the effort, this creates a problem. Let's consider the issue. We've established that the microsite is an interactive (vs. passive, e.g. TV) place where consumers will spend the most time with a brand, if you can get them there. Before that microsite concept has been developed, the traditional agencies are off and running, developing scripts, print headlines and outdoor boards. For true advertising unity to occur, the interactive agency needs to be involved from the outset, getting briefed on their portion of the assignment at the same time as the traditional agency. In fact, when a microsite is involved (or even some of the more robust landing pages) I'd go so far as to say that offline work should not begin until the online portion has been thought out, because the offline effort should really be advertising in support of the microsite. Okay, that may sound extreme. I'll explain…
3. Microsites and websites (and even some landing pages) are more than marketing communication. They are PRODUCTS. Your clients say they want an integrated online/offline campaign that includes a robust, unique, interactive microsite experience to demo, tout and sell. Ultimately, offline (we'd hope), and online ads will direct users to this experience, this microsite, this final pre-purchase destination. We in the ad world would typically call this marketing communication; we would be better served however, if we thought of the microsite as product. We want consumers to spend -- not money (just yet) -- but time. And they will, if we can get them there. Rather than focusing on selling, both offline and online ad units should focus on using intrigue (or humor or whatever) to direct consumers to the microsite, using elements and aesthetics of said site. A well-designed microsite experience will do the selling better than any ad ever could.
4. We need to check our own egos. Good ideas can come from anywhere.
5. Communication. If the online/offline agency relationship is adversarial, problems will occur. Traditional ad guys still believe TV reigns supreme. But in the age of the DVR, common sense says this can't be so. We in the online world recognize the power of TV, but we know it must now be harnessed in a new way-one that points consumers to the online space. We all need a better understanding of how our channels can work together, because in the end, it's about getting it right for our clients. This often begins simply-with a conversation.