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Ad Advice: Get a Hobby

1/19/2007 7:06 PM Eastern

Las Vegas— The most successful companies going forward will be those that become adept at “lifestyle advertising” — or messages that allow companies and consumers to interact in a continuous, ongoing way.

Because of the boom in broadband and interactive advertising models, today’s advertising targets are no longer effectively defined by sex, race, ethnicity or income, according to a white paper on lifestyle advertising prepared by Pricewaterhouse -Coopers.

The paper, presented at the 2007 National Association of Television Programming Executives Conference & Exhibition here last week, indicated that new ad models must target recipients’ hobbies, lifestyles and thoughts. That’s the best way to reach those whose media consumption is evolving from fixed linear scheduling into personalized media catalogs.

TAPPING INTO TALK

“Today, consumer dialogue is happening in real time, with unprecedented speed and volume, with or without the willing participation of content providers, distributors, advertisers or their agencies,” said PWC partner Michael D. Kelley.

Some companies have already logged successes in reaching their consumers in an interactive way:

  • BMW scored a hit with its online films, mini-action movies created by noted directors. It amplified that strategy through a partnership with TiVo, in which the automaker placed interactive ads on the digital video recorder company’s platform to promote the launch of the series Test Drive on Speed Channel. The ads allowed TiVo users to opt into an offer for more information.

  • A Hong Kong network, The Interactive Channel, allowed 1 million subscribers to participate in its shows appearing simultaneously on broadcast TV, the Internet, radio and mobile networks. Viewers can interact with every show via short messaging service and show chats even continue, in a separate window through commercials.

  • Automaker Audi ran an ad for its A3 model on 400 blogs, an effort that generated 29% of the traffic to the automaker’s Web site during the time of the campaign. The campaign cost only 0.5% of the automaker’s overall media budget.

  • Procter & Gamble has established the Vocalpoint network, which allows young mothers to participate in product trials and give their feedback to the company. To date, according to the report, 600,000 mothers have enrolled in the consumer panel.

Such campaigns resonate with viewers while providing data on their reach that’s more measurable than the estimated “impressions” made by the traditional television commercial. The report notes, however, that advertisers and media continue to struggle with ways to monetize that contact.

Companies must follow discussion about their product and its branding on the Internet, as consumers are talking in a voice as loud as the marketing messages that are targeted to them, the report said.

By monitoring conversations, industries can identify and connect with their key influences, perhaps drawing them into business planning, the report suggests. A Belgian telecommunications company, for instance, actually brings consumers into the boardroom each quarter, to query users on performance and get input on future services.

Businesses must engage consumers in real-time conversations that are “relevant and trustworthy,” the report added. For instance, consumers will sniff out “fake blogs,” or “flogs,” and state their distrust for the company.

Currently, 2% of total ad spending is in the online social-networking space, a ratio that is expected to rise to 9% by 2010, according to research cited in the report from eMarketing, a company assessing online advertising.

TEAR DOWN SILOS

To create effective campaigns for this space, the report suggests that companies eliminate silos, or artificial divisions within companies between the “old” media and marketing division and new media, but also between the company and consumers themselves.

Businesses should consider “growth councils,” consisting of new-media and traditional-media executives, to plot future campaigns.

The chairperson of such a panel should not be an “old media” type, who tends to stay within their comfort zone, the paper suggested. If a company doesn’t know how to monitor the Internet and act quickly on the information gleaned there, executives should hire an outside firm that does know how to track activity in that space, according to the white paper.

The data and recommendation in the paper are based on other PricewaterhouseCoopers research on media usage and broadband penetration, as well as interviews with 40 industry executives.

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