The time consumers spend with digital media is light years ahead of the marketing dollars being allocated to the very same channels. Take a look at some key trends that will continue to influence your quest for a bigger piece of the overall marketing-budget pie.
As consumer usage of digital media continues to skyrocket, many digital marketers are left wondering why brands' digital marketing spends have yet to follow suit. And while there's no simple answer to this quandary, it has become clear that interactive marketers looking to persuade a shift in budget allocation have their work cut out for them.
iMedia talked with Julie Roehm, a CMO for Hire marketing strategy consultant and founder of Backslash Meta LLC, about the factors inhibiting a greater shift toward digital marketing, the weapons interactive marketers can use to make their case for bigger budgets, and the ways in which we can expect to see the landscape shift in the future.
iMedia: We're starting to hear whispers regarding the end of the recession. And while the recovery may take some time, take a quick look in your crystal ball: In what fundamental way will the realm of digital marketing have changed from its pre-recession state?
Julie Roehm: Several of my friends on the agency side of the business have been talking about the "new normal" for over a year now. The large clients have been cutting back staff levels and spending, and they are trying to do more and more with less. With that in mind, I think the biggest change will be the future sources of revenue for agencies and publishers. We are already seeing a shift to more "startup-like" business vs. large Fortune 500 clients.
iMedia: Digital marketers are still battling for their deserved piece of the overall marketing-budget pie. What do you think is the single greatest inhibitor in this struggle?
Roehm: I think the biggest inhibitor is still the comfort of what is known. Marketers want to be where their consumer is and are, but not usually in the same proportion. They are spending in all the right places for the most part, but they continue to over-allocate budget to TV vs. digital mediums, and much of that has to do with comfort.
Also, I find that many CMOs are afraid of change and of the unknown. There are thousands of online channels and only hundreds of TV channels, so that factor and the lack of control over where your content will live online makes the online world still "unsafe." A client of mine, AdSafe, has one solution that eliminates many of these issues, but there are other companies out there as well doing the same. Of course advertisers are marketing online; they are not afraid of the medium itself, but it provides levels of risk, and also reward, that are constantly changing. It is the emergence of companies like AdSafe that will start to provide greater assurance that the marketers' intentions are fulfilled in the digital mediums.
And finally, most marketing groups -- and agencies, for that matter -- still do not have true integration of the communications channel planning function. Until this is fixed, we will always struggle to have digital really take its proper place.
iMedia: On the flip side, what is the best weapon digital marketers have in their fight for marketing dollars?
Roehm: Measurement, of course. When the average tenure of a CMO is less than two years, they need to prove that their plans support bottom-line growth every day. That and the obvious data that supports the fact that consumers are living in these digital mediums. I tend to believe that the fact that most CMOs and their bosses and CFOs now actually own digital devices and participate in the digital world themselves has made this move to spending in these areas easier. As silly as it may seem, it is always easier to convince someone that you need to spend money in places that your management personally participates, much like the CEO who wants to make sure that he/she sees their spot on Fox News or CNN, even if it is not the right demo for the brand.
iMedia: Where are we starting to see changes? Are there online or other interactive channels where brands and agencies are starting to ease their grips on marketing dollars? If so, what are they?
Roehm: I have been encouraged by the growth in the digital OOH and also the mobile space, particularly the use of apps for many brands. The race is already underway with who can have an iPhone app first. And a day rarely goes by where there is not some story about the Twitter or Facebook offerings from a brand. Still, we are looking for more examples of how brands are effectively monetizing these efforts as a payoff for their brands' investment.
Online video still seems to be the next great frontier in my opinion, and I am encouraged with the offerings from some companies such as TouchStorm (yes, they are a client), as they really seem to get how to develop video content that people are actually searching for and distribute it to them where they want to find it.
iMedia: What channels have the furthest to go in terms of proving their value to agencies and brands? And what should specialists in those channels be doing to move in that direction?
Roehm: Print. Sorry, but many still do not believe they need to change their business model. Print has relevance, but it is long overdue for a makeover.
As I mentioned before, we are seeing mobile start to come into the mix. As more and more devices are rolled out to the marketplace, we anticipate an increase in mobile spending. For the mobile space, we need to make sure the channel and device can fit the message. Marketers can not simply "resize" an ad for the mobile dock.
Lori Luechtefeld is editor of iMedia Connection.
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