Well, the call for a new Online Marketing Requirements doc to correct the Wrong Model, Dumb Money problem did not get much traction so far. So I’m thinking maybe you need a new Online Marketing Model first to hang the Requirements doc on. Fair enough.
Here’s the challenge: I don’t think there is a universal enough agreement on what online brings to the Marketing party. Sure, it gets explained in tons of ways, but for the most part these explanations are all Tactical stuff – do this, get that.
That’s not good enough, that’s too small, and it’s not unique to online. CEO’s and CMO’s are looking for the Strategy edge, and they are looking for ways Online is a “logical fit” into the Marketing Mix. What is online “for”, and perhaps more importantly, what can it do better than what we already have?
This is important because if you can get to this place, then you have leverage, then you have the ability to draw more money into Online Marketing / Analysis - because it is different.
When everything we come up with replicates the Offline model but doesn’t work as well – take Display advertising, for example, the business model most every “new idea” uses – then how would you expect to get any respect? Seriously, it looks ridiculous from outside the small world (Marketing budget-wise) of Online. What other medium relentlessly pursues a failed business model so persistently, hoping something will change? There are exceptions. But most of these exceptions play in such a small sandbox or are so recursive (selling Facebook widgets on Facebook) they are irrelevant to the broad scope of Marketing (example). They don’t scale.
I have always loved the Lean Back versus Lean Forward model – one of the earliest attempts at explaining why online is different. The first time I heard this phrase, back in 1997 on the ClickZ discussion list (RIP), I knew exactly what it meant. It’s visual and I could immediately write a page or two describing the “Online Difference” this idea implies. But I’m a Behaviorist, I get all the implications of this idea. Problem is:
1. The vast majority of Marketers are not Behaviorists, they are GRP-ists. For these people, Marketing is about demographics and psychographics, not Behavior.
2. Lean Back / Lean Forward is probably too abstract to be very directional for the Technologists, they can’t get to the Requirements from there. And direction is what they need.
3. I’m not a fan of “Either - Or” models in Marketing, just too cute. I often talk about the concept of a “slider” on a continuum between ideas like Brand versus Direct (like a Low - High Volume control). Marketing is always a mix, and the Optimal slider position between ideas like this varies by product, media, audience, etc. Marketing is not an Either – Or concept, much as I’m sure some would like to think it is. Would be more convenient for the Tech side!
I’m not going to try to convince you what the right model might be here. I would much rather have a discussion about concepts, and build the model together. But I will tell you something that keeps coming to my mind over and over as we watch all this play out, as the different business models succeed and fail. I see a high-level commonality running though all the results to date.
As you probably know, I’m into Marketing Productivity – Online and Offline. I want to generate the highest, most accountable return to the company I possibly can on Marketing spend. This attitude does not mean I can turn every dollar spent into an ROI equation. I look for probabilities, likelihoods, any signs I can find of Marketing impact.
When I look at the Marketing world through this lens, and holding true to the Psych model AIDAS (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action, Satisfaction) that describes how humans process Marketing information, here is where I land:
Media – offline or online – are in the business of aggregating audiences. Marketers want to access those audiences to spread messages. The fundamental “model” problem I see is a dimensional one, meaning how the audiences are “described” or segmented.
In offline media, all you have is demographics, maybe psychographics. This is useful because you can quantify Reach and Frequency and talk about “Awareness” among a certain population, the first step in the AIDAS model. Online, the very nature of the activity – the “Lean Forward” idea – is past Awareness in the AIDAS Path.
Thinks about this: are Demographics and Psychographics relevant when you have Interest? Do you care what the characterisitics of an audience are when they are already Interested?
Online, you are talking about audiences that have reached the Interest stage already. This is why “Broadcast” or Display messaging is so irrelevant to these audiences unless it is hyper-contextually targeted. They literally don’t care to be Aware of other things when they already have Interest in a specific thing. Their minds tend to be shut to Awareness in this mode.
And this is what Online brings to the media party that is new, is different, is desirable. Something very difficult to find Offline – the idea of Aggregated Interest - and a reason to invest in Online.
In other words, Dollar for Dollar spent,
Offline is more efficient at aggregating Awareness than Online
Online is more efficient at aggregating Interest than Offline
If you have Marketing budget to waste, I’d agree this line of thinking is probably irrelevant. But if you’re looking for the highest and best use of that budget, does this idea make sense to you?
Can we start building the new Online Marketing Model from here? If the Tech side developed more “Interest tech” and less “Awareness tech”, don’t you think Online Marketing would be better off?