Monday, March 10, 2008

The 4As say: Content is the only thing that matters in a fragmented landscape

Drat, I see Dave Haynes has already posted some of this story. Oh well, there's more to tell...

The annual 4A's Media Conference show, held just up the road in Orlando this week, spent a lot of time thinking about the implications of going digital. Not just digital as in signage (since, whilst a huge part of my world, is still only a tiny blip on the advertising industry's radar), but digital as in mobile, tracking, and even the Internet (which has had something of a renaissance thanks to the rise of Internet TV/video). AdAge has some good write-ups of the more salient moments, so I'll work from those.

First on my list is the latest twist on the "content is king" cliche brought to us by Disney-ABC's Anne Sweeney, president of Disney-ABC Television Group. Noting that, "the one constant, the one thing that never changes is the demand and the need for great content," Sweeney offers three rules for driving a successful content strategy into the digital world (via AdAge):
  1. Consumers come first. Marketers have to pay attention to what consumers want from their online experiences and what they are doing when they get there, so they can make advertising more relevant.

  2. "Ad formats matter," Ms. Sweeney said, noting that trivia questions and multiple-choice ads frequently are more successful than repurposed TV commercials. With consumers bombarded by thousands of messages each day, creativity is critical, Ms. Sweeney said. "We need to be more creative than ever to break though and stand out."

  3. Marketers, agencies and media companies must be committed to change. "We can't rely on old models or follow old rules," she said. "The choice in the digital age isn't whether to adapt, it's whether to evolve or perish."
Not only is content the most important part of any individual medium, since it contains the message, but it's the only consistently important thing across all media. More people in the digital signage industry need to really pay attention to this, as I still frequently see networks running below-average content on an infrequently updated loop. That doesn't help anybody, folks.

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Unknown said...

Hey Bill,

Sorry, but I beat you to it as well:

CONTENT IS KING. We are in the age of conversation and consumers must be valued for their power and marketing influence.

Anonymous said...

"Content is King" doesn't seem very surprising from a person working for the one of the most expensive content creators in the world!
If I have to make a choice between expensive content and running more advertising in more locations with cheap hardware (with money left over from saving money on content and running more ads), I'll take the later.
Do I care about the content that I push at the consumer? Do I care what the consumer would rather see than my ads or content? In the long run, I only care if the advertiser that is paying me money is happy. Unlike TV, consumers don't get a remote to turn the channel on my stuff. They can look away or just ignore it, but I see that as a numbers game. I will keep pushing it in their face and they can't really do anything about it. The more ads I push at more people, the more those ads will have an effect.
I like this last line of the article "We can't rely on old models or follow old rules," she said. "The choice in the digital age isn't whether to adapt, it's whether to evolve or perish." Seems to me the “old” model is to create expensive content to draw in the consumer. One “evolved” concept is user generated content. I expect there to be more truly NEW ways to think that won’t rely on the old guard like Disney to be the one to come up with it.
Give the consumers what they want… I can’t help but think of “Head On apply directly to the forehead!” One of the most annoying commercials of all time… and one of the most successful. Consumers are sheep.

Unknown said...

I politely request that the "anonymous" person that says "consumers are sheep" identify him or herself. I theorize that they made the comment anomysouly because they know deep down that what they said is both wrong and absurd.

Consumers are no more sheep than ricks are flowers. Consumers are powerful, creative, impassioned, educated, etc. and deserve to be treated with respect.

Gone are the days of mind-numbing advertising spots that consumers cannot avoid. To belittle the value of consumers is to call out every single person you know in your life and tell them that their opinions don't matter.

Advertising in today's society is a two-way street. Engagement reigns over eyeballs. Consumers are part of the conversation. in order to be succesful, Marketers, Brands, and Advertisers must treat consumers with the respect and trust they deserve.

Bill Gerba said...

Anonymous: your assertion that, "In the long run, I only care if the advertiser that is paying me money is happy" is fundamentally flawed.

While the advertisers might be your primary source of revenue, your VENUES are your primary enabler, and if you make them unhappy, ESPECIALLY if it's because you've made their patrons unhappy, you'll be left with a lot of screens and nowhere to hang them.

Anonymous said...


I will rephrase to say that in my opinion the advertiser is #1, the venue is #2 and the consumer is #3.

Lots of happy venues and consumers, with no advertisers would be pointless. Happy advertisers mean money and money will buy the venues and the consumers if they are manipulated correctly. Certainly pissing off the venue or consumers is not a sound strategy. Venues will always have to contend with finding a balance between advertisers money and if it has a negative impact on their consumers.

Les, I stand by the sheep comment. If I put my real name here, like you, then I would agree with everything you have to say about those savy consumers ;-)

Anonymous said...

I hate using other people's blogs to push our own site, but since David's already done it, hey. ;)

There's some interesting European perspective on the whole content-as-king debate, and in particular how it relates to the agency role, here:

Anonymous said...

Or even here. :)

Minicom Blog said...

Content might be King but it should be put out to cliche heaven. How about something new?