Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Digital Glue: It can work so well.

One of my other pet rant topics about digital marketing is against people who think digital is one of these:

I say NO to Digital silos. 

Digital should not be just another "channel" on the end of a media plan. Such thinking may have been true way back in 1999 but wake up people, it's 2009! The digital possibilities are much greater than the inclusion of some some banners driven by the buying / trading model.

Digital thinking needs to be integrated into planning right from the outset.  On the web your idea / message / product / service is available 24/7, 365 days a year.  It's there when people are actively looking for it, not just because at a given second you've interrupted them by shoving your message in front of them whilst they were probably doing something else.  So make the most of that opportunity.  Make the most of the fact that you can provide people with information  or an experience in a much more engaging / fun / meaningful way than you ever could in a 30" TV ad or a 25 x 4 print ad.

Whilst I may be passionate about things digital, I don't believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (Luckily for the friends who trust me with their children from time to time!). I believe that established advertising techniques whether off or online will continue to play a role in the comms mix of the future.  Those roles might just be slightly evolved from those they've taken in the past. Change is healthy! I love seeing offline & online working well together. It's the old sum of the parts theory. Make the most of both and you'll achieve more in total than you will using either in isolation. Or ignore the online piece and find that the consumer will note your absence and talk about that anyway. You can't ignore the fact that digital interaction is part of most people's daily lives these days.

So, let's put that argument about offline and online into context:

Yesterday I was on the Tube. I saw a series of digital outdoor escalator panels with a whole series of appealing , colourful images on. Space hoppers bouncing everywhere. It caught my eye.  But I couldn't see the brand / originator. Hmm. Intriguing but slightly confusing.

On the way back up said escalator a little later, I notice the same ads, and this time caught the end frame. Again, no brand mention, but it did say " Search: Spark something".  I made a mental note to look it up later.

Above the line advertising driving me to a search engine.  [geek fact, 67% of searches online are purportedly stimulated by activity offline]

This morning I duly searched, prompting PPC (paid search) result to appear, giving me somewhere to go but not many more clues.

Still intrigued, I follow the link which takes me to the Spark Something / Hoppervision site.

Where I am presented with a video and this invitation:

Join the world's first online invasion.[...]  Be part of the world's first ever online flash mob, Start by creating your own hopper.[...] Set it free and watch the mayhem start (don't worry we'll tell you where and when). 

Still no clue as to the brand behind it... until I noticed this give away clue.... when all of a sudden the notion of bouncing hoppers made a whole lot more sense [scans brain for large advertising campaigns I've ever seen folder, sub folder, brands that like things that are colourful and bounce....]

Ah ha, for the eagle eyed, the mystery is solved: Sony Ericsson!  Yes, OK it's a bit close to the Sony Bravia Bouncing Balls ad, but hey, imitation is flattery as I remarked upon in another recent post.

Obviously I did create my own hopper (at time of writing there are 2786 of them), happily agreed to set it off on it's own adventure wherever that might be, and now knowing that it's Sony Ericsson, equally happy gave my email address to see what happens next.

Whether I'd have been intrigued enough to handover my email without knowing that, I'm not so sure.

What do I think they could have done better?

Well,  a little bit of paid for search (PPC) spend on Bing might not have gone a-miss (naturally I searched on Google and Bing, and found nothing on the latter, which is a bit rubbish given it is growing, and also this kind of quirky web mystery appeals to us geeky-types who feel bound to try new things out a lot).

Some sort of search engine optimisation (SEO) might have got their site showing up in the natural search results, potentially saving them paying for a few clicks. Instead they had nothing of relevance showing up above the fold.

Some clues on the site as to who was behind the initiative. Doesn't need to be glaring, just there somewhere, for re-assurance. Had I not noticed the clue I'd have been puzzled why I was being required to make decisions about signing up to Sony Ericsson's T&C's when I gave my email address.

Maybe I'd have made the outdoor creative I saw work a little harder by saying "search for" not just search, but also making that message appear mid-way through the creative rotations too. Quite a lot of people (including me) tend to run down escalators = less time to wait for the punchline = missed opportunity to engage.

I might also have bought the search terms "hopper ad" & ""space hopper ads" for the consumers that were sufficiently curious from seeing the ad but didn't catch the end frame.  They didn't, I checked. Instead I got this link up first to a marketing trade press article about the broader Sony Ericsson campaign. Fine for me. I'm in the industry, but would that really be what you'd want to expose the consumer to?

Points awarded for making on and offline work together in a cohesive fashion. Extra marks could have been awarded for greater attention to detail.  I was curious, I did search, find and participate, and now I've written this blog post about it = word of mouth/keyboard, even before I've found out where my Space Hopper's adventures will go next.

To be continued....

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