Wednesday June 14

Why interactive marketers need traditional advertising

Jan's previous post (in Dutch) about the research data that indicates the non-effectiveness of 30-second commercials during the commercial breaks at the Soccer World Championship, got me puzzled. I think we're somehow missing the point here. I'm more and more convinced that we're looking at this whole "death of the 30-second" from a wrong angle. Yes, it's true that we turn away more and more from traditional push-advertising, simply because there's too much of it. But my objection however, is that I think that we as interactive marketers simply can't do without traditional advertising. I'm even convinced that we will be the driving force behind the revival of the 30-second commercial. How? By making it a cornerstone of our marketing2.0 strategies. Let me try to explain myself...

To be honest: I'm getting worried. As a passionate online user and as a media researcher I was very enthousiastic about blogs, social software and social networking from the very beginning. So every time an organisation or a brand did something with the opportunities of what we now call web2.0, I thought: "Yes, they understand!". Lot's of these trendsetters got rewarded with kudos from the blogosphere, the internet press and even the traditional media.

However, recently, this playing field has been changed quite radically: There are simply too much brands that are trying to captivate the wisdom of the crowd, or trying to captivate the creativity of their users, or trying to convince their users into participating in their platform. Not in the least thanks to us.

What will happen is exactly what has happened to e-mail marketing: it got obsolete, due to its success. E-mail marketing is even killing e-mail as such. The more players, the less impact.

So let's cut the crap. Untill now, in this experimental phase of user generated content and media, we were able to convince some clients into some trial projects. But what we're experiencing now, is that creating an architecture of participation doesn't lead to traffic anymore! Marketing2.0 is in desperate need for traditional media spending in order to survive.

What I'm aiming at is a synthesis between the best of both worlds: I think that interactive and participative marketing campaigns can be far more engaging and compelling than traditional advertising. Furthermore, I'm convinced that we need traditional advertising in order to drive traffic to these interactive and participative campaign websites. Hoping that the campaign will take off, just by seeding the blogophere and some social network websites won't suffice anymore. Advertisers won't take the risk and bloggers don't post on command.

However - and this is the catch-22 - I think that these marketing2.0 campaigns can increase the value of a 30-second commercial enormously. Why? Because one has compelling content to show:

  1. commercials can evolve into calls-to-actions for creative contributions or collective actions
  2. brands can use the commercials to present the user generated content that their 1% evangelists have created. The Converse Gallery campaign was a great example of this (unfortunately it's offline now)
  3. brands can use the 30-second commercial for challenging users to participate in a contest (e.g. through SMS). Every commercial can become a lottery in itself
  4. brands can use the commercial as just one of the elements in an ongoing story. The story about the commercial for the mysterious Hanso Foundation, which turned out to be part of a teaser campaign for Lost is a great example

In short: when the 30-second commercial is used in function of an interactive marketing campaign, then the combination of both will increase the individual value of each. Is this revolutionary? I think it's not: advertising in movie theaters has been loved by the audience for years. Why? because it blends perfectly with the cinematic viewing experience. Movie theater commercials are usually great extra little stories.

Marketing2.0 campaigns have the potential for having us falling in love with traditional advertising. Or is that a utopia?


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