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February 12, 2014

The Convergence of Advertising

February 12, 2014

Did you know that digital marketing is changing rapidly? Of course you do, because you’re likely in on the action yourself. You probably found this blog post via a SmallBox marketing effort… our monthly email, Facebook or one of my beloved team members’ tweets.

Change can be scary, but I have great news! Advertising is getting awesome and converging across mediums in an incredible, experience-driven way. I have some great examples below, but first let’s talk about what’s happening and why:

Advertising is Fueled by Content Marketing

Much like modern SEO, online and offline advertising is becoming critically dependent on content marketing efforts. This is primarily due to the “servant” nature of content marketing that is focused on solving problems and helping as opposed to simply creating awareness. Customers are too smart and inundated to care about flash-in-the-pan offers anymore.

Mobile is Forcing the Cross-Channel Revolution

Cross-channel marketing has typically included thinking about the user experience and customer life cycle across multiple mediums. We call this the digital ecosystem: website, email, social, search and then content is the conduit. Now that mobile and tablet adoption has skyrocketed, customers expect the digital ecosystem to expand beyond mediums into experiences at every touch-point. We can expect this year that an average of 50% of these touch points could be on mobile devices.

Social Pay to Play

Facebook is 10 years old and those rapscallions we call millennials have been using it long enough that they’re over it! Part of this is fueled by not wanting to intersect with their parents online, but part of it is due to a saturation of brand activity. Facebook is paving the way for social media platforms to go the way of the publishing industry: dominated by ads. Likes are no longer enough, brands now need to pay for social activity making advertising a "must".

Retargeting is Becoming Accepted as a Norm

Ads and content are now following us across channels and platforms. Click on a link to a blog post in an email and you’ll soon be seeing promoted Facebook posts and Tweets for that topic. Even more interesting: my former life was in the music business, and even in this industry, there is a shift occurring from paying for earned media (PR) exposure to paying for guaranteed eyeballs via retargeting and Facebook ads.

What Good Advertising Looks Like in 2014

Let’s look at an example of this in action using a very well executed Super Bowl campaign for RadioShack. I recently visited a local Indy location to find a rare cable and was transported to the 80’s through their decor and even the amount of dust that sloppy displays were covered in.

This dated experience was central to their rebranding. The process probably began with a visit to multiple stores through the lens of a smart agency (we call this process Discovery – using data to frame marketing opportunities). They brought back a giant stack of recommendations that said:

"Your last store update was in 1991, and your customers stopped caring right around then. Oh, also, charging people $25 for a 6in cable is highway robbery."

They took what could have been a total slap in the face and turned it into a tongue-in-cheek campaign that addressed the issue head on. The experience begins with a Super Bowl commercial:

So that’s a pretty traditional ad, however, towards the end of the Youtube video we’re encouraged to “see what’s possible when we do things together” including another video with our favorite cat-eating TV-star alien, Alf, who teaches us about cell phone automation.

This is where the magic happens. Great follow-up content bringing the experience to life. A quick visit to the URL in the video brings us to our next touch-point…


Here, users find a giveaway contest and funny video examples of how “doing it together” solves wacky scenarios such as a father of triplets wanting to watch awesome action movies while rocking his babies. The call to action for each video is a helpful PDF download showing you how to accomplish the feat yourself.

Radioshack Whitepaper Let Sleeping Babies Lie Video

The missing touch-point: Facebook. If Radio Shack really wanted to impress me, they should have been there when I got onto Facebook after watching these videos (if anyone at Radio Shack is reading this, SmallBox can help!). The missing link would be a retargeting campaign geared towards finding a new digital home solution that we can “do together."

Creating meaningful digital experiences

One of our big takeaways from our recent Factory Week is that our mission has evolved to creating “meaningful digital experiences." I think the Radio Shack example fits well into this ethos. They won me back with a smart branding experience that touches multiple mediums and platforms.

The way to begin using these concepts is to take a step back and begin with some data analysis.

  • How are users interacting with your content?
  • What does their user path look like on your website?
  • What browsers are they using to find your content - mobile, tablet, desktop?
  • Where are your customers hanging out online - social sites, online communities?

Then, map out the customer life-cycle.

  • Inject meaningful, problem-solving content at the critical touch points such as a confirmation email when a user signs up on your list.
  • Use retargeting to help customers find your new whitepaper and like your brand on Facebook.
  • Promote your blog posts on LinkedIN and target potential customers based on data.

In short, developing an experience, no matter how simple it may be in the beginning, is where advertising will truly shine in 2014 and beyond. No longer is it as simple as impression > visit > conversion.

Hero image via Flickr.

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