Mark S. Pendolino
|INTERACTIVE MEDIA aND MARKETING|
|The Future of Interactive Media and Marketing|
The Ever-Increasing Participatory Movement
Interactivity will Increase in Marketing and Advertising
The very nature of interactive media blends well with marketing. Marketers want people to understand their products, to identify with their company, to know how great everything they do is. It's a little dicey at times, as not all companies are on the up and up, but the more we educate ourselves about the companies we do business with, the better. And although interactive advertisements are pushing only positive messages to consumers, at least it will the consumer the power to decide whether or not they want to play.
Effectiveness, Cost, Leads to Adoption
As shown earlier in this study, rich media has a greater effect on consumers. A greater message lift. And although it may cost slightly more than a static JPG or GIF banner ad, it is still significantly cheaper than any television ad and most print ads. For these reasons, we will see greater adoption of the practice in advertising. The fact that interactive and integrated marketing rely on consumer feedback and participation demonstrate that the need for this medium is imperative for companies to survive in the future.
Consider some of the findings of a recent study conducted by eMarketer:
The study, conducted in October of 2004, surveyed consumers on their reactions to popular mediums, looked at ad revenue and ad spending, and included analyst predictions in advertising and technology. The findings can be considered a glimpse into the future of interactivity in marketing.
The study found that the drivers behind rich media's rise will be the adoption of broadband by consumers and the migration of traditional brand marketers to the Internet. On the consumer side, the study indicated that by 2005, 53% of US online households will access the Internet via broadband. On the advertiser side, it found that Yahoo!'s 200 largest brand-advertising customers spent 38% more on branding ads in Q1 2004 than in 2003's corresponding quarter (eMarketer 2004).
"The single most important factor supporting rich media growth is the audience," says David Hallerman, Senior Analyst at eMarketer and author of the report. "More people are going online, they spend considerable time online and do more things there and more of them are accessing the Internet using high-speed connections that make rich media ads palatable, if not always welcome" (eMarketer 2004).
One of the more telling signs, however, was the predicted rise of the Internet as a main source of entertainment.
Borrowing from a study on consumer media preferences, an Online Publishers Association report titled "Generational Media Study," eMarketer reports that when the trade group asked 1,235 US adult Internet users to choose two, and only two, media outlets, 45.6% made the Internet their first preference. As the clear-cut second choice among the respondents, 34.6% picked TV as their first choice, with every other medium in single figures (eMarketer 2004).
And if you look at the responses divvied up by age, you'll see that the emerging generation of entertainment consumers may end up helping the Internet supplant the television as the preferred source of entertainment. This would create a virtual immediacy for all advertisers to make their presence on the Web.
Huge Changes Online
The data and the evident movement back to the online world foretells for huge impacts in the advertising world. Interactive media holds a new promise, a way to involve the online user and create brand awareness without annoying them. Let them play a game, get involved, get control. When you empower the customer, you give them greater confidence in you. And you receive greater loyalty.
The promise of interactive media to help educate people is enormous. Learning is easiest when we, as the primal beings that we are, are able to play, interact, do it ourselves. Incorporating a sales pitch into a fun game, or even in a module that allows the user to directly experiment and get involved, allows for the greater potential of retention. Sitting passively and listening to loud, invasive advertisements is the antithesis of this concept. The mind wanders, the consumer gets annoyed, there's no fun, no involvement.
Hence the idea of incorporating interactive media into marketing campaigns. It's one thing to push your ad through the television, or on a printed page: it gets attention, but your target consumer is on the other side, sitting passively, perhaps looking past the ad. Technology will evolve to give all consumers the power to pick and choose what media they want to consume. And they invariably skip past the clutter, the clutter we know as advertising. They will only be exposed to an ad when they have an explicit purpose. When they are prepared to buy and they want to research and evaluate. Marketers must grasp this concept moving into the future and plan accordingly.
You want your target audience to buy your product. And online advances have allowed companies to zero in on their target audience, select who gets what message and when. That's the beauty of the Internet on both sides. So why go back to the same old "push" mentality of television and print? You have to consider getting maximum use of the tools available.
If people do actually learn more when they have fun, then let them have fun. Build something that promotes your product yet gives the end user some pleasure in the process. This may mean dropping the aggressive messaging, but the value in brand awareness could come back tenfold - marketers must consider the long term effects and the medium that carries their message.
We're beginning to see this trend, and the early numbers try to quantify its success. Does interactive media in marketing campaigns result in higher sales? We may not know the hard answers for some time, but if the general movement is any indication, marketing and interactivity will become a marriage for the ages.