The "blurred" line
In the marketing industry you will often hear agencies talk about ATL (Above The Line) & BTL (Below The Line) and then there was the introduction of TTL (Through The Line) all of which are essentially different advertising strategies.
The concept of the "line" was born out of an accounting definition in terms of above the line (capital expenditure) or below the line (current expenditure). I feel that this so called "line" is becoming blurred with the enhancements in technology and the changes in consumer behaviour.
There is no longer a simple clear line and there is definitely no way any campaign in this era can sit either above or below the line in isolation, as it is my opinion that there is no longer a definite "line". The way consumers gather information and consume media has changed completely. Google recently launched an eBook called ZMOT or The Zero Moment of Truth which I really love and truly believe is the future for all marketing strategies. ZMOT in a nutshell is the fact that previously consumers would see or hear an Ad, they would then walk into a store and purchase the product from the Ad and then once they get home and experienced the product they would then share this experience with friends and famiy.
The ZMOT concept is essentially once a consumer receives the stimulus, whether it be on TV, Radio or Print, the Ad firstly needs to be enticing enough to get the consumer to want the product or at least want to find out more, now with ZMOT (Zero Moment of Truth) consumers will firstly ask friends and family for advice specifically about that product, then they might go online and do some more research about the product and see what the reviews are like and they might even use a mobile Apps to help them gather relevant information about a product, all of this takes place before finally deciding whether to purchase the product or not. This is the Zero Moment of Truth.
Think back to the last time you bought an electronic product like a TV, cellphone or laptop, did you (A) see a
TV commercial the night before about a laptop and then immediately decide you wanted it and went to purchase it the next day or (B) did you see a TV commercial about a laptop that seemed like a good deal and then did some research online and saw that the reviews were good, the price was right and the specs were extremely good, lastly asked your friends on Facebook and Twitter what they thought and then decided to go to the shop the next day and purchase the laptop?
The ZMOT principle is a great explanation of why the "line" has become very blurred and why it is so important to ensure that any marketing campaign has a strong presence at the Zero Moment of Truth.
To further substantiate my thinking around the blurred "line" I came accross this great article by Nate Elliott, "The Interactive Brand Ecosystem: Putting digital at the heart of your brand campaigns". The article is about how everything has changed since the creation of the World Wide Web, how we communicate, how we build brands, how we purchase, how we research etc. Think about the question below, what would your top three media sources be and then look at the age groups below and think of the consumers that you are trying to target and how you are actually currently targeting them with your existing campaigns?
This is the existing model that most companies of today follow, often forgeting about the digital landscape.
This is the model that should be applied for campaigns (think about your call to action on your Ads, where does it go, to a website or mobile site? Yet, so little focus is placed on these channels and the actual conversion process)
Integrated campaign (get all three layers to work together)
The "line" has even become blurred in terms of the actual channels themselves, think about it, you now have SMART TV's (interent TV's) and print media can now come to life with augmented reality, so in the very near future media strategists will start buying banner space on DSTV and on print AR executions but this is a post for another day :)
My last point to emphasize how the "line" has changed is a quote from "The Thank You Economy" by Gary Vaynerchuk, one of my digital heros (even you haven't yet read this book make sure you do).
He says, “When you place a traditional ad, whether it's on TV, radio, print or billboards, you're spending a lot of money to hold on to the microphone and say your piece over and over and over again. You're pushing your way into the consumer's consciousness.”
“If you are going to launch a campaign, it has to be one that evokes an emotion so that people feel compelled to share. Give them something to talk about, unleash the power of word of mouth, and allow them to pull you into their consciousness.”
“Develop creative work that allows the platforms to rally, to work together to extend your story, continue the conversation, and connect with your audience. It’s not enough to simply throw a Twitter or Facebook logo at the bottom of your ad, or show Facebook.com/yourbrand at the end of your TV commercial. That’s about as exciting and useful as saying “We have a phone!” or “Found in most stores!”
I think this quote from Gary summarises up everything that I have been trying say in this post. Agencies need to work harder to ensure that their campaigns are completed integrated and ensure that the creative work evokes emotion and excitement and ultimately gets the consumer engaging with the brand online and sharing their experiences.
ON MY MIND: Mark Schefermann