For many years I have been witness to the debate on the merits and demerits of 'new' media versus 'traditional' media. I worked in the internet space more than a decade ago but I have to confess that the contours of the debate have remained rather constant. So constant, in fact, that it is now all getting a tad boring.
The problem is that 'new' media has trapped itself into the 'everything is measurable' corner. This argument has been used to show digital in a favourable light as compared to, say, television, radio, print and out of home. As a result, for many marketers, the impression of new media is inextricably linked with ROI and is hence used largely for either lead generation or customer acquisition. This has led to a compartmentalisation of media - traditional for brand building and new for leads and acquisitions. Hence, for lots of marketers who do not have the wherewithal to work on leads or have last mile digital fulfilment capability, new media budgets have been confined to what I call The Leftovers Syndrome and is a small part of the overall spend.
For others who have the ability to either work on leads through outreach programmes or have last mile fulfilment capability, new media has become an acquisition engine.
In either case, new media is still not recognised for its ability to build brands. Given the expanse of new media connectivity and the likely rate of growth, this has to change. Computers and the internet are no longer accessible to a chosen few. As the mobile networks grow their data services penetration, the internet is becoming more and more ubiquitous through a multiplicity of devices and across multiple screens - feature phones, smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Technology is allowing customers seamless transition between screens, depending on their location and mobility.
This is opening up new vistas that currently remain relatively unexplored - the ability to build brand engagement and awareness through new media that transcends the classical CPL or CPA approaches.
In today's world, possibly the device closest to a person's heart is the mobile phone. It is the single window to the world using voice, text and data to allow people to stay connected. Modern tablets are becoming an extension of the mobile phone. These devices, beyond connectivity, enable simultaneous interaction with multiple media.
Hence, more and more customers are simultaneously watching television and browsing the net through a mobile device of some sort. This is a trend that is likely to accelerate over time. This sort of behaviour enables brands to interact and engage with customers in never before ways. A person could be watching your television commercial and responding with a code through the internet or just simply through a text message. QR codes or augmented reality options embedded into print advertisements can also create great opportunities for seamless offline-online communication with customers. The possibilities are limitless and expanding.
In my own experience, I would like to share that new media has worked well for my brand. Not just to help generate leads and acquire customers - as a financial services marketer I have the means to do both, outcall customers or sell them a product online - but also to maintain and build awareness during the period when there was no brand communication through other media such as press, television radio or out of home. I have also found that a new media campaign running in tandem with classical media tends to boost the brand awareness much faster than a standalone campaign.
We are standing on the cusp of a genuinely brave new world. As marketers, it is our responsibility to make the most of the opportunities that lie ahead. We can work with traditional media or new media as the case may be to stretch the boundaries of our brand communication and make it genuinely seamless for our customers and prospects. To do that, it is critical to shed the 'media' hat and don the 'idea' hat.
The author is COO, Aeogon Religare.