Why media fragmentation is a cure for communications laziness

Simon RutherfordThe benefits of media fragmentation are beginning to outweigh the downsides, argues Simon Rutherford

It is surprising to hear media fragmentation is apparently still the number one concern for many clients. True, it’s now more expensive to reach your target audience through traditional media, or at least it’s more expensive to buy the same levels of reach that you may have historically. It’s also true you have to use a number of different channels to get a result these days and that it’s more time consuming joining these channels up.

However, there is a positive. Media fragmentation is forcing the media and marketing industry to think more about their customers. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it’s the cure for communications laziness.

Any media agency or marketer who desires wealth creation for their business or their client’s business needs to have greater discipline in looking at who their customers are (past, current and potential), they also need to seek relevant context in which to have conversations with them.

To see fragmentation as a positive, the benefits it brings to advertisers need to be viewed through a different lens because there are many. We now have access to smaller more defined groups of consumers; content is becoming more aligned to people’s specific passions; if you spend the time defining your target audience properly it means you can have more relevant conversations within the right environment; we can now reach our customers via a number of channels anchored around the same relevant content increasing effectiveness; if you get it right there will be less wastage; the result is forcing marketers and their agencies to become more disciplined.

However, there are some reasons why the media fragmentation conversation still rages.

It’s rapidly changing, however many agencies still get stuck in the numbers and see media as a commodity, sprouting reach and frequency figures and other media jargon, without really considering the power of connection, context or the relevance of a property. A tarp is not a tarp and TV networks are no longer TV networks, they are audience platform providers with each of their media brands being powerful vehicles in which to have conversations with consumers across multiple channels (TV, magazines, radio programs, in-store, mobile, online, events, etc). The fact Seven West Media is now calling itself ‘Australia’s leading audience company’ and Nine an ‘entertainment company’ is proof of that.

Some agencies still think the media environment – or context a client’s message is appearing – is just a distribution vehicle for a creative message. Your client’s customers have a far deeper emotional connection to the media environment than they do to most consumer brands so why wouldn’t you use that association or understanding to your client’s advantage?
If on a creative brief the channel or media context just says something generic like TV or magazines, it’s not giving the creative teams much to work with or any idea of exactly where their message will be appearing. Understanding the audience and contextual relevance more clearly offers a huge insight for the creative teams to work from. This inevitably pushes media upstream in the creative process. Media agencies need a seat at the table during creative development to get the best from the benefits fragmentation brings. In many cases, they already do.

With a lack of understanding of context and relevance, often agencies shoehorn a client’s message into a property where it either isn’t relevant or doesn’t belong. Based on fragmentation, with a far more relevant and engaged audience, agencies need to challenge clients to create or add value to the customer’s experience within that property, make sure offers are relevant and drill deeper than a demographic target.

The alternative is uniform campaigns that try to talk to everyone with no real insight.

This may not be news to many of you but people 18-to-54 isn’t a target audience, it’s a family reunion. If your agency is telling you media fragmentation is a challenge, the chances are they aren’t thinking enough about your business.

Issue_37_devicesThis piece first appeared in EncoreDownload it now on iPad, iPhone and Android tablet devices.

Simon Rutherford is the CEO of Slingshot Media.


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