Media: delivering business impact beyond marketing and communications

Posted 13 February 2015.

​by Robert Harvey, CEO, Dentsu Aegis Network New Zealand

​Media is no longer just a driver of marketing messages; today it is a critical component of our clients’ business.

In its simplest form, advertising used to be the domain of great creative storytelling. A brilliant piece of a creative was able to capture the attention of the nation in just a single night. Remember ‘Bugger’ for Toyota Hilux, or Instant Kiwi’s ‘Bungy’? All that the media agency needed to do was come up with a great targeting strategy, some brilliant negotiation, and the job was largely done. Sure, we would add some integrated media components to round out the campaign, add some deeper engagement, and sweep up those who were light television viewers, but effectively the role of ‘media’ was to act as a delivery mechanism for creative.

Jump forward a decade, and the way in which brands communicate with their audiences has fundamentally changed. How people access, consume, and share brands has been transformed by media; new channels have emerged, audiences and channels are fragmented, consumers have taken control, and the building of a brand is about much more than traditional advertising. Yes, great creative ideas and storytelling are still essential but the role that the media agency plays in both the creation and distribution of ideas has become even more important, particularly when it comes to creating business value.

There are two key drivers for this.

Firstly, as media convergence accelerates, the point of engagement (through content), and the point of transaction (through digital commerce) unite. A direct link between media and consumer action has been established. No longer do we simply deliver messages that influence consumers on a purchase journey that could take hours, days, or even months. The content itself has become transactional and consumers have the ability to respond immediately.

One example of great content with a direct link to transaction is the campaign that Carat, an agency in the United Kingdom, ran for ecommerce retailer, ASOS. Music videos, featuring artists such as Ellie Goulding and Azealia Banks, were embedded with unique technology that enabled the audience to ‘click and buy’ any item featured in the videos.

This type of convergence is rapidly becoming commonplace. Take a platform like Shazam. In its early days, Shazam was just a fun way to identify songs you liked. Today it enables people to instantly connect to iTunes and purchase the identified song.

Facebook and Twitter are now testing advertising units with embedded purchase functionality. Not only does this provide a direct transactional capability to the advertising on their platforms, importantly it also creates deep insight from the data collected for future targeting.

Data is the second driver in creating business value.

Today, media generates a stream of data that informs business decisions and feeds a brand’s relationship with consumers. Every piece of digital communication creates a data point that allows a business to understand demand and interest, as well as map communications to a consumers purchase journey. This combination of media data from search, social, location, and digital content interactions is invaluable to business decision making.

In a recent study by GlobalDMA and Winterberry Group across 17 markets including New Zealand, 92% of respondents said they expect data to contribute even more substantially to their advertising and marketing efforts over the coming years. This statistic is hardly surprising and I believe that the data generated from ‘media’ can provide significant value to businesses beyond just the advertising and marketing function.

Discussing the growing contribution of data is important, yet it is the data that is being collected now that is key as the real value in the information is being able to understand behavioural patterns over time. You can’t suddenly switch it on and expect to generate immediate insight. Imagine a world in five years time, a world where you already have five years worth of historic data, data that enables you to assess the lifetime value of your customers and attribute value to each individual media channel. Not only does this make marketing more efficient, it ultimately enables businesses to more accurately forecast future demand.

We know ‘data’ is not the exclusive domain of the media agency, but it is radically changing the role that media agencies play with their clients as we develop increasingly sophisticated ways to generate actionable consumer insight and connect communications data directly with that of our clients business.

The increased influence of media on advertising, the convergence of the point of engagement and the point of transaction, and the stream of valuable data generated by media suddenly means that the old world where media served as a delivery mechanism of creative messages seems a very distant past. Media now has the ability to have a very direct impact on the success of clients business.

Perhaps it’s time to rethink the very definition of media and look at the role it can play beyond the sphere of marketing and advertising.