(The Sky is Falling... Part Six)
Nothing has changed the world faster than the Internet. The world wide web, at least as we know it, is only over ten years old. Yet, it has changed the media landscape forever. The computer is the second screen in our lives. It will not "kill" the first screen television, not during our lifetime. When television started gaining popularity in the early fifties, it was predicted that radio would die. When FM broadcast started, AM radio was buried prematurely. Satellite radio will be the continuum for the medium.
Little Chicken, "No, the sky is not falling."
And now, there is the "third screen" -- the screen on the mobile phone. This will become the most important screen of them all, in the very near future.
The biggest change technology has brought is in the consumer.
- VCRs were the precursor to all changes in media consumption patterns. The consumer could see her favorite program when she wanted to see it. And, the remote control allowed her to "zap" the commercials.
- TiVo for all the furor created is just an advanced VCR.
- The Internet is different. It has empowered the consumer. He is on one-to-one communications. He is also on the receiving end of many-to-one communications. He chooses what to do, when to do. From catching up on the latest scores to to shopping for books. Or just sending someone flowers or renting a movie. All at his fingertips.
The Internet because of the Amazons of the world also spawned another industry, Customer Relationship Management. More important than the industry itself is the impact it had on the consumer.
- Even though it was an electronically sent note, she received a personalized "thank you" note from Red Envelope. They even told her when her package would arrive.
- After her first three purchases from amazon.com, they recommended books that she may like, now referred to as behavioral marketing.
- He started reading blogs that were of interest to him. He could voice his opinion with the author -- something he never did by writing a letter to the editor of his local newspaper.
- She could shop the best price for an airline ticket to visit her favorite Aunt Thelma; get coupons from coolsavings.com; and, monitor her stock portfolio at 4:00 AM.
- He could watch the Live8 concert on AOL, all the acts and all the songs.
- They could IM their son at the dorms at State U, and send pictures of his dog without going to the corner drug store to process the photos.
- She could pay her bills without paying for postage.
- He was finally in control. He is a consumer. He is King!
- And the marketers loved them.
Some marketers/agencies started using the new media very well in 2004. Crest, as an example, used their web site to ask consumers to select their next toothpaste flavor. Staples with its "Invention Quest" sought product ideas from there consumers. While these concepts are not original (Crayola started involving the consumer with the "name the next color" promotion using traditional media in 1993) it is how the medium is used that makes it important and relevant. More so, is the involvement of the consumer.
The Internet has also been responsible for the creation of blogs and podcasting. Anyone can be a publisher with blogs (we are) and be a broadcaster with podcasting.
The Internet is being used effectively to create customer evangelists. Brands such as Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, eBay, Google, Fantasy Football, iPod, and youtube owe part of their success to "buzz marketing" and "viral marketing."
"The Third Screen" or the mobile phone (we in the US like to say, the cell) will become a major marketing player. Over 10 billion text messages per month, in the US alone, is just the tip of the iceberg. Many major brands, including McDonald's and Budweiser use this medium (or should we say "vehicle"). Soon, consumers will be able to point their mobile at a product's barcode and information about the product will show up on the third screen. The mobile will also be a wallet. Point it at a vending machine, punch in the numbers, and out comes your can of Pepsi. It is the one medium that is with the consumer all the time -- the most personal medium of all times.
It has even created its own language: "BRB," "TTYL," "HCIT," "LOL," and "G2G" are all part of the lexicon.
New technologies are making it harder than ever before for marketers, especially at the local level, to reach their potential consumers with their messages. It is unfortunate that the number of people reached by an advertiser will decline but the cost of the advertising will rise. Compounding this problem will be the fact that many consumers have become immune to the traditional language of advertising.
"The medium is the message," said Marshall McLuhan in the late sixties. How appropriate! Today, we could say, "the future of media, is the future of advertising."
Or, we could be more emphatic and say, "Media drives the business, and not the creative." "Sacrilege! Burn him!" shouts the Executive Creative Director of the Agency.
We will take it one step further: "The consumer's involvement with the media drives the business."