Two cents blog

Blurred Lines

by Paul Cornwell on 2 September 2016

I’d like to raise the subject of blurred lines.   But I’m not talking about the 2013 music track by U.S recording artists Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams & T.I.

I’m referring to the increasingly blurred lines between the traditional and new marketing communications channels.

Only a few years back the delineation between channels was very clear.  TV, print, radio, outdoor, transit and even online advertising were separated into neat buckets where media space and production could be managed.

Then, everything started to blur.

Static outdoor developed into a medium that had digital inventory.

TV morphed from free to air television to pay TV, digital TV, catch up TV, and online TV.  And most TV now is available in several formats.  Take the recent Rio Olympics coverage from 7 as an example.

Radio is now sold with their social media and online platforms as an integrated part of their offer.

Social media emerged and platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, LinkedIn etc. all became high reaching media channels.

Google of course is a channel and one of the most significant ones.  Search is now one of the most cost effective ways to target prospects.

In fact with an overall spend of $6 billion, digital advertising now accounts for four out of every ten dollars spent by marketers in Australia. This medium has now eclipsed television, the powerhouse of old, which attracts around $4 billion in spend.

So, now when a marketer is planning a marcomms program they need to be thinking about a channel plan that embraces, depending on their brand, prospect and objectives, many or all of these channels.

And that’s when it gets complicated.

Today’s comms program might use 10 or even 15 different channels and then a range of formats within those channels.

This can result in sometimes 50 or more different executions in different formats, including creating specific and relevant messages for remarketing to consumers as they move down the conversion funnel to purchase.

And then they need 50 or more different pieces of content that are purpose built for each format.

But even then the job isn’t done.

Once all this content goes live then a well executed program will mean constant measuring of the analytics to continually optimise the most effective content – on the fly in real time.

And just to complicate matters a little further, and to get to the point I want to make, the lines between each channel and format are now completely blurred.

For example, is a looping video served up on a social platform like Instagram a digital execution or a social execution or a video production? And who do you brief to create this content? A social media shop or a video production house or a digital shop?  Many PR companies now include social media as part of their PR plan.  So, should you brief the PR company to make this content?  And what about writing the copy for the post and the hashtags? Who writes that?

Plus maybe a different version of the same idea appears in other channels – who manages this? And who should one brief?  The PR shop? The digital supplier? The creative agency? The video content team?

The more complex the channel plan becomes the more there is to think through and manage. And the more suppliers one has to deal with.

But crucially the more blurred the lines between platforms becomes.

It sounds like a Marketing Director’s nightmare to me.

This is exactly the reason we’ve built our ‘New Breed Creative Agency’ which is built on the idea of having a range of specialists all under one roof.  They bring their specific expertise and skill set to both planning and executing these increasingly complex programs.   And because of the consultative way we closely collaborate then there is no need to draw strict lines between channel platforms and production disciplines.  Often a campaign planning meeting will include a programmatic media specialist, a search specialist, a social media specialist, a creative content specialist and content production specialist.   It’s managed for maximum efficiency and effectiveness – all without any discussion about whose ‘turf’ a component of the program should be on.

We think this is an excellent answer to the blurred lines.

What do you think?

I think Robin, Pharrell and T.I would agree.


Paul Cornwell is a Managing Director at BCM 

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