by Brad Michelson
Have you ever noticed that you seem to come by the same advertisements wherever you go? Are you noticing that the same product or company is haunting your television watching, Internet surfing, magazine flipping and radio listening?
The world of media advertising has been constantly evolving over the past few decades. The growth and advancement of the Internet and electronic innovations have given companies the opportunity to reach more potential consumers than ever before. There are new marketing schemes that companies are adopting. They are right in front of you, but you may not notice them until someone points them out.
Multi-platform content, or referred to in the industry as ‘360’, is one strategy many companies have turned to to help expose themselves to the masses.
“360 basically means that you don’t rely on one medium at a time to get your message across,” says Brian Adler, “(You should) use many, if not all of them.”
Adler has been working in the media since he was a teenager, being involved in radio, television, internet podcasts and now with On Demand Production Network (OPDN), where he and his partner create online video content for companies seeking a way to keep customers and the like engaged and informed. This 360 marketing complements each medium by making sure that you cover each desired market.
360 marketing comes in when you want to use a ‘viral’ campaign. But what is viral marketing? Viral marketing refers to the technique of using pre-existing social networks to increase brand or product awareness. Early examples of viral marketing were those annoying forwarded e-mails you would get from your friends with some long joke and an ad for Hallmark at the end. This eventually transformed into what are now known as ‘e-cards’, which are basically virtual greeting cards you can send to your friends from a company’s website. Now viral marketing takes the form of almost anything on the Internet, including video clips (Doritos marketing on YouTube), games (Burger King X-Box 360 games), brand-software (Apple’s iTunes music player), images, and even those irritating spam text messages.
A viral campaign takes the elements of viral marketing, and combines it with the concept of 360.
“Say I own a TV station and that is where my audience and advertising dollars are going to,” says Adler, “I need to give my audience an opportunity to be interactive. That’s where the online element comes in. If you own a TV show, you want to hold onto the audience beyond the 30-50 minutes of your episode. Send them to your website where you have more relevant content. Now they’re still with you beyond those minutes, and now they have the ability to visit it whenever they want.”
This is exactly what television networks, like ABC, are doing. They host online content of their television shows so fans can go online and watch past episodes of their favourite shows, read character bios, and then share it with their friends.
“The possibilities are endless for content distribution,” says Adler.
This online content is referred to as ‘on demand content’ (ODC), and it’s very important for viral campaigns. The audience wants the power to be able to rewind, fast forward, and re-watch what they want, when they want. That’s what makes it ‘on demand’.
“The first time I noticed it was when I went into HMV, and saw that it was 80 bucks for a season of Seinfeld,” says Adler, ”and I thought like, ‘Wait a minute. That show is on every freakin’ channel, every freakin’ day, all day long. Why would somebody pay for that when they can get it for free?’ It’s because they want to have control. They want it on demand.”
This is exactly why websites like YouTube and Vimeo have become so popular.
One of the many companies that have greatly benefitted from viral campaigning is Apple with its iTunes store.
“iTunes has done it better than anybody, mainly because everybody knows about it,” says Adler,”That’s what makes it work.”
Apple was able to catch the eye of millions of consumers by advertising on the Internet, television and print for their iPod music player. When people buy the product, it comes with a disc for Apple’s free music program, iTunes. You will find a little blurb about it at the end of the iPod television commercials. Apple has integrated a music store to the program, where people can purchase music for as low as 99 cents for a single song.
“When (the) iTunes (store) started, they only had limited libraries, and the PayPal service was kind of shifty,” says Adler, “People didn’t know if they trusted it. It wasn’t that convenient and there were too many opportunities for the consumer to say ‘Nah, no thanks. I’m just going to steal it for free on Limewire. I know how to work that, or maybe I’ll just go to the record store. This is too complicated.’ But (Apple) have simplified it, and made it a one stop shop.”
Apple has been able to integrate relevant, eye-catching advertisements into the iTunes program itself. The first example of this is in the music store. On the main page, there are advertisements for newly released CDs, games, online movie and television show rentals. All of this can be accessed, purchased, and played through the iTunes program. The second example is the iTunes Genius feature. This newly integrated feature scans your iTunes music library and searches the iTunes store for content that you might be interested in purchasing to complete, or expand, your library. It will show you missing songs from an incomplete album in your library, other albums by that artist, or other artists from that genre. Apple has really outdone themselves in catching the eye of the consumers.
Viral campaigning, along with 360 and ODC, has swept the advertising market. Everyone from Joe Mechanic to the biggest Fortune 500 companies has adapted this marketing scheme to attract more business, label awareness and overall revenue. Next time you see that little annoying, dream haunting, cartoon character from the commercials, you will realize that you are in fact not going crazy, but that you are a victim of a company’s viral marketing campaign. Don’t forget to send them the bill for your psychotherapy sessions.