Friday, June 10, 2005

OMMA and Disruptive Forces

Themes at the Online Media, Marketing and Advertising (OMMA) conference in San Francisco on June 7-8 in San Francisco reminded me of the Star Wars Dark Side. This conference was valuable in highlighting the major changes shaping the traditional media world, which extend well beyond search. Geoff Ramsey, CEO of eMarketer, as Master of Ceremonies, provided a wealth of statistics as background. Then speaker after speaker described the need for change in all aspects, yet organizations , including their own companies, have resistance to change, a familiar situation. These are large scale companies, and adapting to the smaller scales represented by new and emerging technologies, represented by the vendors, is difficult for all the involved players.

The ramifications of technology are having an impact on all major businesses, and those changes are transforming the media industry from advertisers to agencies to publishers, with enabling technology companies providing tools to cope with the process. To begin with, the consumer market is becoming much more fragmented. Broadcast media is no longer the three major networks, but hundreds of TV channels, each with their own audience. And the consumer is in active control of the media, whether it be TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, blogs or podcasts. Traditional demographics, such as sex, age and zipcode are relatively easy to identify, but no longer make sense in this granular world. Instead there is a shift to behavioral targeting and identifying interest groups, approaches which run counter to traditional marketing methodologies, and are relatively untested, particularly for branding.

Traditional media thrived in silos, but online is more effective as part of an integrated marketing campaign, so agencies are struggling with a shift in skill sets needed to effectively manage the transition. Simple text ads and buying keywords on the major search engines is inherently a different process than producing a TV ad, which takes much more time and money. And perhaps even more unsettling is that those search engine ads can be tracked and measured to provide a definite ROI, unlike TV Super Bowl spots. This is attractive to advertiser CFO's, and this ripples into decisions on marketing budgets for different types of media. Now, the creative part of the business to forced to consider the business aspects in a new way, with the traditional CPM metrics inadequate for decision making. And in this new digital world, public relations assumes a new dimension since PR is best integrated into the marketing plan, particularly search marketing, a non-traditional role.

Just as businesses are having to deal with smaller, nimbler competitors without high cost structures, marketers and advertisers are unwillingly changing to meet the new market dynamics. The technology itself is just one component, with smaller niche markets becoming a bigger reality, represented at the extreme by blogging technology which allows individual authors to become publishers. The Star Dust will take a while to settle, as new methodologies and new players contend for leadership!
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