By Pete Davis
// Fri 14th
‘Traditional marketing channels are dead’. This is the cry that we hear
repeatedly from digital evangelists, who tell us that our more
established channels of communication are being swallowed by online
media platforms, sidelined into becoming one small, insignificant part
of an overall mix that has digital at its heart.
A recent article published by the Harvard Business review made such a
bold statement, suggesting that in today’s ‘social media-infused
environment’, traditional marketing just doesn’t work as well as it used
Yes, social media may seem to dominate the marketing agenda now, but
this doesn’t mean that more traditional forms of marketing have lost
their place, merely their place has shifted to adapt to their
technological surroundings. Far from being dead, now we are simply using
traditional marketing techniques to send out our brand messages via
online media, which allows the same messages to be distributed to bigger
audiences, only quicker.
Human recommendation has always been a powerful weapon in a marketer’s
armoury and this hasn’t changed in the face of the digital revolution.
Social media is today’s equivalent of the water cooler moment of ten
years ago, or of women gossiping while hanging out their washing forty
years ago. Traditional media models still exist, technology just
enables their execution to be faster and cast to a wider net.
Any argument that suggests we should drop activity across traditional
channels, such as TV or outdoor seems a little naive. There are still
plenty of living and breathing examples of campaigns that are
successfully lead by TV and outdoor activity.
It’s the things that we see on TV spark the biggest debates on Facebook
or Twitter. Old Spice has been noted for award winning viral work and
Twitter campaigns, but would any of that happened without the extensive
TV activity that made Isaiah Mustafa and his series of spoofs so famous
in the first place? Would Susan Boyle have become such a national
treasure on the basis of a well-seeded viral ad or Facebook campaign to
get her talent noticed?
Outdoor media is proving a powerful driver of consumers to online media
channels. Brands are embedding QR codes into outdoor ads to drive people
to Facebook pages and microsites. Brands advertising on digital outdoor
sites (can even these be considered ‘traditional’ now, given the rate
of technological change?) are making great use of opportunities with
social media to enhance the audience experience. Earlier this year,
Volkswagen used real time content created by its Facebook fans on giant
billboards across theUK. By becoming a fan of its Facebook page,
visitors could choose to compliment the Volkswagen up! model via a
special tab, and were then rewarded by having their name and picture
displayed on one of the digital boards – a great example of how far from
killing off traditional media, technology is enabling it to become ever
more exciting and interactive.
On top of all of this, social media, online and viral marketing aren’t
always a good brand fit. There is a lot of talk currently of the ways in
which social marketing can give consumers access to new knowledge. But
if I’m a functional brand – say for example I manufacture a brand of
lighter – then its harder and perhaps not right for me to try and start a
conversation around my brand proposition. What do my customers need to
know other than that my product will light my fire? What other insights
can I offer? For these types of brand, traditional media and word of
mouth are still so important.
A brand conversation rarely starts with social media. Instead social and
more traditional channels have become intertwined. What the internet
can do for us now is to speed up the process of message delivery,
awareness spreading and public reaction to a concept. If anything, the
digital revolution is actually breathing new life into traditional forms