Relevance Plays A Big Role in Future Marketing

Josh GordonOf all of the speakers/panel discussion at Forrester Research's 09 Marketing Forum, the panel entitled, "The Future of Media." It was led by David Card, formerly a principal analyst with Jupiter (now with Forrester), and the rest of the panel included Greg Clayman, the EVP of Digital Distribution and Business Development for MTV Networks, Annis Lyles, VP of Media and Interactive for all of Coca-Cola North America, and David Verklin, CEO of Canoe Ventures.

I anticipated this discussion because the future of media is something that anyone who does Direct Digital Marketing for a living must take seriously because it could potentially forecast new opportunities.

To review this panel discussion with any level of accuracy I must split it into two parts. The first part of the discussion superficially appeared as a vehicle for David Verklin to get his message out about Canoe, a consortium of the six major cable companies coming together to develop technology that will allow for more relevant, targeted, and measurable ads on television. The level of attention placed on Canoe was overt, and that showed up in the Q&A. Perhaps I’ll share more on that in a later post.

The other half of the discussion was very compelling. Annis again hit on the major theme of the conference, saying that it is vital to, “Embrace technology as it evolves” – another comment to allay the economic fears (real or imagined) that marketers are experiencing. From here, the conversation turned to relevant communications, something that Annis believes very strongly in. “Content has to be relevant,” she said. “If you’re not relevant, your customer won’t care.” This isn’t necessarily new news, but what was interesting was her matter of fact delivery of the news. She said it in a way that left no room for debate – it was just a modern marketing communications fact we all must understand and leverage to our advantage.

Two more interesting points. First, Annis addressed the opt-in issues seen in behavioral targeting by saying, “We want consumers that want to be part of the experience. We go in expecting a long-term relationship with the customer.” Of course, it’s easy for a 100 year old brand to see every customer as a long-term relationship, but it’s a good lesson for all companies and brands.

The last interesting point came from David in the answer to a question about how TV ads through Canoe’s technology will supposedly be able to target specific households (so HHs with income above $100,000 see the gold card credit card ad, and not the regular credit card the majority of the mass market sees). He was asked a question I see often introduced into debates about behavioral targeting on Capitol Hill – aren’t you in violation of consumer privacy standards by executing this type of targeting? His answer was simple, “We will abide by the exact same privacy guidelines as Direct Marketers.” As often as the privacy issue comes up, this carefully crafted answer will be the retort, and I’m interested to see if it’s considered a good enough answer to subvert the opt-in.

What do you think the future of media and marketing communications is? Is it relevant, targeted television ads, or better targeting and more measurable ads served through the online channels?

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