Thursday, May 14, 2009

Making A Brand Relevant In Social Media

There are two components to advertising in the broader sense. One is the content that you manufacture, and the second is the channel and method you use to distribute that content. My sense is that the issue here is one of distribution and manufacture. So from a manufacturing point of view, the messaging that sums up the message of brands and even creates them is in a state of very, very rapid evolution. It's in a state of evolution in a number of dimensions -- in terms of the duration of messages, the formats of messages, and everything that goes with that. The world is not doing badly in terms of involving that manufacture. So that's a good thing. And the good thing for the agency business and the creative community, if you like, is that there has never been a bigger demand for more granular messaging to go in different formats.

The purpose of brand communication -- pretty much above everything else -- is to create social relevance for brands. What social relevance means is having a substantial cohort of the population, or certainly a big enough cohort of the population that justifies the cost of whatever it is you were planning to do in the first place -- that knows what the brand is, like it, feel it's relevant, and that is suitably exposed to it. That's what social relevance is. You still need to do that. So the question is: Has the bar for social relevance gone up? Yes, it has, and so the way you do that is to create a platform of some description, and you build social relevance around that platform.

Where can digital fill in the holes that traditional often leaves behind or completely ignores?
Digital fills holes in a couple of ways. The first thing it does is it helps by replacing the reach that's lost by the somewhat diminished use of other channels. But what digital really does is break the relationship between cost and duration. One of the reasons why the structure of the market was positioned the way it was in the old world is because it was limited either by the number of pages the magazine publisher could use to print and distribute and carry around on trucks, or the amount of spectrum that was owned by a broadcaster, and so forth. So the industry was capped before. When you think about advertising, think about it in two ways. Part of it simply pushes visibility into the market, and another part is much more directional. And what that direction is doing is taking people from a fairly superficial form of contact into the opportunity to engage much more deeply with that content.