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New media is hostage to old media

June 27, 2008

Billboard in Lund, Sweden, saying

Image via Wikipedia

Here’s a quote, from the Fallon Planning blog (a must read blog):

Every new media is hostage (at first) to the expectations of old media.

Thus, you get 30-second TV spots on You get banner ads sold as if there’s such a thing as physical inventory on websites. You get old thinking masquerading as new media.

Consider how it works in traditional media:

The brand buys physical space and hires and agency team of copywriter and art director to craft a message that is very brand focused. This message is highly targeted to a consumer, and repeated exactly three times. It’s a one way communication meant to enhance the brand in the mind of the consumer. It doesn’t try to sell product, it sells image so that when it’s time to buy the product, the brand will rise to the top of the consciousness.

Agencies are used to it. Clients are used to it. Agencies know how to bill it, and a clients know what they are paying for when they get the bill. Physical space, check. Creative teams’ hours, check.

Now consider new media tools like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, blogs by people who blog about your brand.

Can’t ‘buy’ space there. Can’t design it. It’s possible to craft messages, and target the messages very directly, but it’s unwise to repeat the message in an attempt to get the frequency to three. And, we might have to change course mid step (something unheard of in a traditional advertising campaign).

So where does that leave us? Perhaps if we engage in new media trying to fit old media ideas into them, we might succeed. But there’s a greater chance that we’ll fail.

And for the record, that’s not such a bad thing. Because this is the thing: at agencies, we’re good at the old media part. We’re also set up to do it well. So why not begin in new media trying old media ideas? A failure would be a learning experience.

Because this is the thing; while we know new media is different, we’re still working out how to use it differently. Yes, there are some examples of people who get it. BMW Viral, to me, is one such example. But even in the newscasts on CNN, there was trepidation.

Generally, people wondered, should BMW have done this without telling anyone that they did it?

Again, think about traditional advertising. It ALWAYS has a logo. ALWAYS. This entire BMW campaign didn’t have a single logo. For people trying to fit old media thinking into new media, no logo makes no sense.

And yet, this is a classic example of just trying things. Some things will work. Some won’t. Some will make it to CNN, some won’t. But if you read here (and you should), you’ll see that smart people think it’s important to try.

And yes, it would be nice to say that there’s a strategy to follow for brands to use social media, or new media if you prefer. But the reality is, it takes clients who are somewhat willing to go along for a ride (think about the concept presentation for the BMW viral). We were lucky enough to have a client agree to let us try using social bookmarking to increase awareness. Now we have a case study and we can move forward.

All we need to do is get an idea, convince the client to pay for a leap, and try it. That’s what BMW did.

Now how fun is that?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2008 11:07 am

    People do read differently on the web they skim they don’t read. For the web you have to compeltly re elarn how you word things to make them short and snappy to get the information accross like that!

  2. January 26, 2009 4:54 pm

    We have had the same experience with customers expecting immediate ROI from our signage solutions, however, not holding Sunday color circulars they spend 10 times the amount on to the same expectation. Really it seems to be based on fear of the unknown. In some ways, digital signage is seen as the bible salesmen of the advertising world. Going door to door only to have it slammed by customers who don’t understand digital media…yet. Horse vs car thing, and we are selling cars in 1908.


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