Sunday, July 27, 2008

Brands Adjust to Media Fragmentation

JUNE 27, 2008

One way media synergy might pay off

Marketers have long focused on segmenting consumers, to approach them via the media channels and destinations they use most. But in many markets, media fragmentation has made reaching a large enough audience increasingly difficult.

Addressing this problem, Rishad Tobaccowala, CEO of Denuo and chief innovation officer at Publicis Groupe Media, discussed future trends and brand strategies at the recent Online Publishers Association (OPA) Europe conference.

Mr. Tobaccowala said that a shift is on from segmentation to reaggregation, thanks to the key role of search and clever use of online options by brands to appeal to a wider range of consumers. Marketers, he said, should think less about "spaces" where their audiences spend time and more about the audiences themselves. Focusing on the way one target group—college kids, for instance—moves through the media landscape can alert brands to big opportunities.

Fox Interactive Media, the fifth-most-popular media property in the US, is an example. The Fox online empire includes,, GameSpot and MySpace. Fox is already doing much to encourage appropriate crossover of content elements, ads and promotions between its own properties. So advertisers working intelligently with one or more of these properties can leverage the interconnections to reach their potential audiences in more places.

Interviews with contestants on American Idol may appear on the program's Web site, for instance, and a viewer's favorite clips can be posted on MySpace—where brands associated with the show have a second or third chance to connect with likely buyers.

For marketers, the challenge is to reach communities at multiple touchpoints, using both online and offline channels.

Carmaker BMW is doing well at this. Its global Web presence now includes a polished, award-winning site with an emphasis on video.

The site highlights many aspects of the brand, including the latest models, its design history, Formula One involvement, breakthrough technologies, contributions to major charities and support for headline music festivals. Fans and customers can register at the site, post car-related videos and rate videos posted by others.

Because BMW is an aspirational brand, its appeals to a wide spectrum of consumers—including owners, potential buyers, history buffs and design creatives. Clever sponsorship deals also bring BMW and its brand values into the lives of sports and music fans.

Similarly, Nokia's Green Room ties mobile with music fans. The concept began with a Web site offering exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of performers, an insider blog and links to the Nokia Music Store. Now Channel 4 in the UK is putting some of this material on broadcast TV. Inevitably, some Green Room content has also migrated to social networks and (surprise!) into the mobile sphere.

Tero Ojanpera, executive VP for entertainment and communities at Nokia, stressed at the OPA conference that the company is moving beyond its handset focus, to take a central role in an always-on environment. Now the iconic Finnish brand aims to be a hub for consumers' media experience, providing access to music and "everything else that matters to them."

"The proliferation of online and offline channels is not such bad news for brands as it used to be," said Karin von Abrams, senior analyst at eMarketer. "Not every brand has the market clout or technological know-how of Nokia. But most brands can take a leaf from Nokia's or BMW's book, and think of new ways to reach consumers—wherever they are."

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