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PwC: Advertising Is About Lifestyles

1/16/2007 8:58 AM Eastern

Las Vegas -- The most successful companies going forward will be those that become adept at “lifestyle advertising,” defined as messaging and ads 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 and income, according to a white paper on lifestyle advertising prepared by PricewaterhouseCoopers. The paper, presented at the National Association of Television Programming Executives’ confab here, said new ad models must target recipients’ hobbies, lifestyles and thoughts through campaigns that boost brand trust and are relevant to end-users. That’s the best way to reach consumers whose media consumption is evolving from fixed linear scheduling into personalized media catalogs.

“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,” PwC partner Michael D. Kelley said.

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

• BMW scored a hit with its online BMW films -- mini-action movies helmed 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 Speed Channel series Test Drive. The ads allowed TiVo users to opt into an offer for more information.

• A Hong Kong network, The Interactive Channel, allows 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.

In the panel discussion on the report, Shawn Strickland, vice president of FiOS TV product management for Verizon Communications, said his company actively monitors Internet blogs on its HD product, for instance. Project managers are held accountable for finding consumer comments on performance of the product. That buzz may allow the provider to find and correct a delivery problem before it might surface through conventional product monitoring, he added.

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

Currently, 2% on total ad spending is in the online social-networking space, a percentage expected to rise to 9% by 2010, according to research cited in the report from eMarketing, a research firm studying online advertising.

To create effective campaigns for this space, the report suggests that companies eliminate silos: artificial divisions within companies between “old” media and marketing division and new media, but also between the company and consumers themselves. Businesses should consider “growth councils,” consisting of new and old media executives, to plot campaigns for the future.

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

The data and recommendations in the paper were based on other PwC research on media usage and broadband penetration, as well as interviews with 40 industry executives.

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