Nearly every time I review statistics and trends in the media and advertising marketplace I catch myself saying, “What an interesting era.” In the past few weeks our team at Levels Beyond has been working with media companies, brands and agencies all addressing mobile apps as a channel. Not just an app for app’s sake, but an honest to goodness channel strategy that has become part of the media advertising mix. While you might consider an ABC content app or a Netflix app as unique channels, there is a growing effort to support the movement of corporate and media content through many different apps as channels. Content published into apps may support commerce, subscriptions, or deepen a relationship to the application’s service.

The Communications Pyramid

In a simplified way most communication falls into four broad buckets of generalization, a structure I call the communications pyramid. This communications pyramid exhibits the flow of content through groupings that describe the content and its relationship to a consumer. The net of it is the view of having real-time personal communications on one end of the continuum to Mass Media communications on the other end.

Simplistically, organizations have considered these pyramid levels and focused content or advertising into the appropriate segment. While the current model continues to shift it looks somewhat like this model.  Spend less to target more.

The expense-to-audience-size correlation has traditionally been the driving force, with declining spending per campaign or content placement on lower levels of the communications pyramid. However, in our ever-changing world of new platforms and communications tools we are now observing pyramid spending as a coordinated effort. Here are the new patterns:

Spend 3

Highly tuned allocation for mass media based on the results of spend 1 and spend 2

Spend 1

Partial audience discovery, segment testing

Spend 2

Content tuning for connection and affinity

We’re working with innovative studios and network promo groups who are exercising this type of decision process. They’re electing to test trailer and message content earlier in the creation of a program, refine it along the way and then use their refined results for highly tuned mass advertising.

Secrets for Audience Engagement

I refer to apps at the beginning of this blog to make a point: audiences are branching into platforms and media where they have the most interest and affinity, and apps are one example. The secret to connection is threefold:

  1. Compelling content
  2. Connection at the right place and time
  3. Consistency of value

Content Platform Trends

As we examine the trends in content platforms, there’s been roughly a doubling in the number of platforms per decade.

1975 – 1995
4 content platforms with one way communication. 4 major shifts in TV, Cable, Satellite and early internet.

1995 – 2005
8 content platforms in the following categories: timeshift, internet audience, small segment. Yahoo, Google, Facebook, DVR, Satellite Radio, Game Console, HD DVD.

2005 – 2015
16 content platforms in these categories: new digital audience (Youtube), new digital placement shift (IOS, Android, Tablet, etc.), real-time on demand (Netflix), real-time connection (Facebook), etc.

App Channels

In 2016, the App Channel is the hot, new and evolving ‘channel.’ That we will have 32 New Channels by 2025 is a low guess.

The app channel can be broken down into two distinctive types:

  1. Connection Channels, which bring together content and product, like Etsy, AirBNB, and Expedia.
  2. Placement Channels, where your product and message may be embedded in many other apps, like Amazon, Alfred, Homejoy, Munchery and more.

Break Down Silos to Engage Consumers Across Multiple Platforms

Given all these shifts I ask you, “Can marketers and communicators in general work in silos?” I don’t believe so and here’s my reasoning:

  1. No decade of platforms disappears, instead they become cumulative so communicators have 28 platforms to produce for and optimize in 2016.
  2. Creating ads by platform is an organization’s first foray into how a platform might be used, and this strategy should be only the beginning.
  3. The new rules of marketing: great content, connection regardless of platform or device, and consistency of value to ensure relationships seem coherent between platforms
  4. Organizations have to be prepared to create content and disseminate it across as many platforms as required to continually engage with their audience.
  5. Optimal success is found using different content across all platforms to optimize and improve value, affinity and discovery of what will work.

These compelling criteria don’t leave CMO’s and marketers with a lot of room for silos. We look forward to tackling strategies with you that address the explosion in this platform/audience segment.

ART RAYMOND / CEO – For the past five years he’s focused on client strategy across most segments in the media space: networks, studios, sports, brands and agencies. Looking across the mix has been enlightening and challenging and as he loves to say, “we’re only about 30% into this media transition.”

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