Rethinking Media Mix for the 2020s
Most brands have an established, consistent approach to their media mix between broadcast, digital, search, out of home, print and radio that allows them to make year-over-year tweaks and achieve better outcomes.
That’s a long way of saying that most brands “go with what works”, but often that prevents brands from uncovering the latest and greatest opportunities to promote. No matter how hard they try, brands can tend to get siloed in old ways of doing things, and inevitably face the issue of diminishing returns with the channels they’re already on.
Large organizations always have a tendency to resist change, even with innovation teams surfacing new methods and channels. This is particularly challenging as the modern media mix can’t simply rely on top-down planning and execution, but needs to be responsive as campaigns, channels and consumers evolve.
The channels themselves are not as likely to change as the content and interactions we find on those channels, and this can be reassuring for brands. With new visions for advertising emerging almost weekly now, you need an intellectual framework that allows you to adapt to changes as they come. In order to properly rethink your media mix for the next decade and beyond, don’t think about reinventing the wheel – think about making it roll more smoothly.
Broadcast Advertising offers so many possibilities to brands, whether it’s through major networks, specific cable channels or more. The best consideration here is really how goals can be tailored to an individual channel and where your interactions can be best suited to generate more business.
Your goal for broadcast advertising will likely skew towards awareness, and your major measurable in this case will be any noticeable change in brand recognition before or after you run a campaign. The only exception to these are the cases where brands may be using a cable channel – news or otherwise – to push larger ticket items and generate leads among consumers (whether it’s for reverse mortgages or mesothelioma lawsuits).
For most brands, these latter cases don’t apply, but that’s why we also see larger brands driving awareness for products, although apps and digital services are increasingly marketed via those channels – typically pushing consumers to a landing page or a specialized signup offer that allows for tracking and attribution within advertising performance. Since forms aren’t always the best, some brands are even pushing consumers to a chatbot – however subtly – at the end of their advertisements.
For traditional brands to stand out amidst these upstart promoters, consider ways to make your brand awareness messages more engaging, or offer a user-friendly call-to-action that allows consumers to interact with your brand without triggering a complete buying experience. Informing your consumers – offering them guidance, recommendation and personalized responses – is slowly becoming the best way to influence purchasing decisions. Instead of forcing a transactions, doing more to make transactions easier now promises the best result.
A “Rule of Thumb” for Broadcast Advertising: Devote every dollar you can to brand awareness, up to the dollar you as a brand could better spend on engaging and converting consumers to actual customers.
Digital Advertising – Non-Search
Non-Search Digital Advertising generally applies to social and display advertising as one whole category, no matter the network. At their base, these are image-based, animated or video ads that can promote an offer, free trial, product discovery, purchase process or any other call-to-action that drives to a brand’s landing page.
Retargeting campaigns are a prominent use of non-search digital – particularly cart retargeting for ecommerce – which makes sense considering that the medium is best suited to engage consumers a little “further down the funnel”.
The goal for these sorts of campaigns are often either awareness or education. In terms of measurables, the best data to pay attention to is engagement and conversion. Engagement can come through in metrics like clickthrough rates or total minutes of interaction with a brand, while conversion can come through as email captures, downloads of content or increases in product interest.
All of these measures are relevant because they are all leading indicators of an interest purchasing – if, for any reason, because most consumers are not likely to devote time, energy and interest to a brand if they’re not also considering devoting dollars.
These aren’t the only goals and measurables to consider, however. In this example campaign from Adidas via Think With Google, brand marketers deployed a multi-stage video campaign that generated awareness, engagement and conversion through multiple stages.
With the right technical capabilities in place, they were able to generate huge lift in product interest and drive more consumers along the path to purchase by conditioning a great customer experience through video. Brands need to consider the best ways to bring a complete customer journey to bear, no matter the channel they use. Conversational advertising is one such way that brands can generate new forms of engagement through classic formats like display ads.
A “Rule of Thumb” for Non-Search Digital Advertising: Devote meaningful dollars here if you have high engagement and conversion, but if they’re lacking consider offering new engagements or more segmentation to achieve better results first.
Digital Advertising – Search
Search Engine Marketing – SEM – “the Grand Pooh-Bah”, the big kingpin of digital advertising, both with respect to inbound and to tracking, iterating and generating revenue from campaigns.
The best-fit goals for most SEM campaigns fall somewhere between Education and Conversion. These measurables come down to downloads of content, subscriptions to newsletters, or full-fledged paths to purchase that provide immediate return on investment. The knock-on benefit of search engine marketing – whether it’s through Google, Bing, Duck Duck Go or whoever else – is that search visibility is shown to increase branded search and traffic that lead back directly to a brand’s site, increasing their lift towards conversion.
This means that with all the generic searches out there, whether it’s “best lotion for dry skin” or “safest family SUV 2019”, your brand needs to be visible at the very top end or else it will simply be ignored. Be cautious, however, as you can generally only earn product interest within the limits of existing search volume for a given topic, and that can make competition intense and bid costs high.
To address this challenge, you can also consider adding guided selling experiences or virtual product advisors to your website. Tools driven by Conversational AI are shown to increase engagement and sales conversion over traditional web experiences, and can help you brand overcome any high costs associated with relevant SEM campaigns.
A “Rule of Thumb” for Digital Search Advertising: If you’re looking for immediate return, don’t hesitate to spend your first dollars in SEM. Please try to keep your lifetime ROI on these campaigns to at least 2:1, and if you’re looking for a new way to shake things up, many retailers are turning to Amazon advertising to capitalize on existing product search.
Out of Home, Print and Radio Advertising
In certain respects, these are all the forms of Broadcast Advertising that set the tone of goals, KPIs and campaigns before Broadcast Advertising became possible for brands with the mass availability of television, and can play a similar role in your overall media mix (without necessarily taking the lead).
With that being the case, your goals for Out of Home, Print and Radio Advertising should be to generate awareness above all, and measure the impact via brand recognition. However, in the same way that more broadcast advertisements include a push to a website, landing page or special offer, which have the dual benefit of converting more consumers to sale while also adding more trackability to traditional mass media campaigns.
The perfect example of this is in the early work of direct-to-consumer brand Casper, which generated great returns from out of home advertising with a location specific promo code (“Subway”) to measure the outcomes of their campaigns. The placement, incentive and the visibility of the ad all proved to generate not just great engagement and awareness, but substantial ROI for the advertiser.
A “Rule of Thumb” for Out of Home, Print and Radio Advertising: Like with Broadcast Advertising, devote every dollar you can to brand awareness, up to the dollar you as a brand could better spend on engaging and converting consumers to actual customers. Of course, these suggestions are simpler in theory than in practice, but they are fundamentally consistent no matter what you scrutinize in your media mix.
How Can Your Brand Do Something A Little Different?
In the scope of channels and media available that a brand can include in its media mix, there is certainly no lack of reach. You can deliver almost any message, price, proposal or offer to almost any person or group at almost any place and time of your choosing. The problem is usually in knowing whether your efforts are working – particularly in whether they’re engaging consumers on a one-to-one or at least close-to-one basis.
There’s a lot of new formats and ideas bubbling up on the “same old channels”. Right now, for instance, podcasts, stories, messaging, live video, Duck Duck Go and Reddit ads, new social influencers, vlogging and native advertising of all kinds are slowly eating the internet. Mr. Zuckerberg himself is even talking about many of these together becoming the way forward for channels like Facebook.
So, you can keep “doing what works”, but slowly turn the crank to “make it work harder”. For instance, take a display ad and make it conversational, add different calls to action on broadcast media, Facebook or Instagram. Put QR codes in your stores that let people access podcasts or open up interactive experiences. There’s nothing you shouldn’t do in order to chase deeper engagement on channels that already have currency with consumers.
With engagement remaining a challenge, brands need to consider new ways to engage consumers across the customer journey. Conversational AI can empower brands to leverage conversational marketing and advertising techniques – both as practices and technology – to achieve multiple minutes of engagement per interaction, generate unique data points, maximize customer satisfaction and improve sales conversion by 30% or more.