When it comes to retail advertising, do you get the message?
Marshall McLuhan, a media futurist was born 100 years ago (July 21, 1911), he authored “the medium is the message” in 1964. In it he explained that the type of media you read, listen to or watch influences the messages received without the audience even realizing it. For instance, video requires less interpretation by audiences than radio.
Internet marketing validates the same point in a completely new way. The technologies spawned by the Internet allow messages to be fleeting (e.g. twitter), even expendable, as media platforms test and refine them.
The Good Ol’ Days
In the 1960s, the era of Mr. McLuhan’s writing, was a much more simplified age. Good copy could break through because media channels were not yet saturated with noise and consumers had not yet learned to tune out annoyances.
Traditional marketing anointed messages as king. Magazine ads are a perfect example. Text-rich pages catered for patient readers who would spend the time to read their message. Copy was storytelling, emotion won over promotion, and benefits won over features. Virginia Slims weren’t just thinner cigarettes; they liberated the women of the 60’s.
The age that began in the 90s and continues today has been called the “unbundled era,” the “cyber era” and the “consumer era.” The biggest change brought on by digital media has been time compression. Both the advertizing creative cycle and the consumer feedback loop can now be instant.
Advertizing product and services can now move from strategy to execution, not in months, but in a matter of seconds.”
Leading product advertisers are abandoning the concept of long campaigns in favor of the the free flowing internet channel (Facebook, YouTube and Twitter). Campaigns have points of no return on investment; then they either work or they don’t. Internet channels go on forever; they can be measured, evolved and improved in real time.
Access to individual customer profiles makes instant “markets of one” possible. Retailers can learn to identify customer needs and deliver relevant offers, both through digital channels and direct from bricks and mortar stores.
Digital marketing has anointed the internet medium as king. Marketers can diversify their investment in personalized messages rather than being forced to make big mass campaign bets. This has yielded a law-like pattern: consistent messaging channeled intelligently beats intelligent messages channeled through mass traditional mediums routinely.
When advertisers adopt “internet medium” thinking, digital shopper media generate higher returns for a fraction of the risk.
McLuhan’s Global Village
Mr. McLuhan coined the “global village” and envisioned the worldwide web almost 30 years before it existed. It’s doubtful he would recognize marketing today. But his predictions about the reign of medium over message have never been truer than today’s digital era.