New technologies serve as ad platforms

Rebecca Weeks Watson · April 6, 2010 · Short URL:

Case studies reveal how to use new media in clever and revolutionary ways

At the MI6 Conference last week, video game marketers gathered to share inspiration and information around best practices in marketing and advertising their games.

One of the most enlightening keynote presentations was given by Jonathan Haber, the U.S. Director of Ignition Factory, part of OMD USA. Through his day-to-day role of developing creative ideas, educating team members about new media, and consulting to any and all OMD clients, he’s clearly at the forefront of the most promising communication tools.

“In today’s age, a new purchase pathway for consumers has emerged. People don’t need advertising anymore,” said Haber. “They hear about and discover new products on their own and from their friends. Media and marketing professionals have to recognize and leverage these patterns.”

What’s more, marketers have to respect and understand each technology platform and its unique capabilities before jumping in to craft messages for distribution on it.

In the span of twenty-four hours, digital-savvy consumers typically access at least a dozen different media platforms for specific functions.  Haber gave an example of a day in the life of a young male, perhaps 24 years old. He wakes up and checks his blackberry, sends a text message to a friend, listens to music on Pandora while at work, view’s his friends’ activity on Facebook, checks his bank accounts and finances on, runs on the treadmill while listening to his MP3, and falls to sleep watching programs that he recorded through Tivo.

With an eye on the future, OMD is one of many agencies inventing new ad platforms on new technologies. It was the first company to use Amazon’s Kindle as an ad platform.  For its client Showtime, the agency created a pilot script for the “Nurse Jackie” TV program that was accessible for download on the Kindle. Another example of innovation was an iphone app the agency developed for the Dockers brand: an interactive utility that served as a shake-able ad. When a user moved around the app imagery would move in tandem. Haber noted that they didn’t simply create an app and assume they were done; they had to promote it and maintain its entertainment value over time. Otherwise, users would play with it once and never think about or use it again.

“The Dockers’ brand app worked well because it was aligned with the iphone’s culture of having fun,” Haber said.

Other big brands are also experimenting with new media formats, especially social media and social gaming. Tools like foursquare, Flixster, Digg and Linked continue to increase in adoption and engagement because they enable sharing and connecting with others at all times. IKEA saw this trend and wanted to participate, but knew it couldn’t just buy banner ad space on Facebook in order to achieve success. Thinking more cleverly, it created a Facebook profile for an IKEA store manager who would post photos of IKEA furniture and items on that page. He told Facebook users that the first person to tag a photo with his or her name would “own” that item. Of course the hidden agenda behind this approach was that IKEA knew every time a person tagged himself in a photo, his friends on his newsfeed would be notified and interested in clicking over to check out the IKEA page himself.

As many advertisers can attest, connecting with startup companies is important in order to find products and services early on in their life that may reach a target audience in a clever way. In a partnership between a brand and an entrepreneur, the startup is valuable because it can provide experimentation, publicity, preferred pricing, exclusivity and equity, whereas the advertiser can provide knowledge, operating capital, and market legitimacy.

A prime example is how eHarmony’s digital agency worked with gWallet, a new network of social games and applications, to distribute its online video and drive registrations to its site. The campaign performed so well because gWallet enabled the online dating service to  tap users at peak engagement – while they were playing a game and searching for an easy way to get more virtual currency for use in the game.

A new media trend report wouldn’t be complete without a mention of cross-platform integration. Typically it’s easier said than done, but Dockers succeeded again. The company and its media agency had been thinking about leveraging the rise and power of audio recognition. They partnered with Shazam , the uber-popular mobile app, to record and recognize the Dockers Superbowl TV commercial music. By doing so, people could hold their iphone up to the song and once the app recognized it the Dockers ad creative would appear on their screen. The agency pre-promoted this functionality online so that consumers were aware they could “Shazam” the song.

Now with these clever campaigns in mind, we can begin to brainstorm about how to use new platforms differently and wisely.

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