September 11th, 2006

Marketing Services Is the Future of Media

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I’ve advocated that media should evolve into marketing services — according to lastest Veronis Suhler Stevenson Communications Industry forecast, that’s increasingly where the money is going.

NON-ADVERTISING-BASED FORMS OF MARKETING – especially newer sectors such as branded entertainment, event marketing and experiential marketing – have emerged as the fastest growing segment of the media economy, outpacing advertising, as well as consumer and industrial spending on media. The finding, which comes from the 2006 edition of the Communications Industry Forecast being released this week by Veronis Suhler Stevenson, comes as strong evidence that U.S. marketers and their agencies are shifting spending into forms of marketing that have tangible measures of ROI associated with them. It also suggests that Madison Avenue’s shift from conventional ad-based media planning toward marketing-based communications planning is also having an effect, and that the definition of media is expanding well beyond traditional formats like TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. Perhaps most significantly, much of the shift toward new forms of marketing spending, especially the kind of experiential marketing aimed at active young adults, is a sign that marketers need to find new ways of reaching some important consumer segments.

Just as the media is bleeding into technology, we’re seeing advertising, marketing, PR, and CRM all bleeding into each other — companies are starting to de-silo the end-to-end processes of customer acquisition and customer relationship management. This presents a huge opportunity for media.

It used to be that media was strictly a delivery mechanism. Now that media is becoming a two-way, participatory, community-driven 2.0 entity (MySpace, YouTube, blogs, etc.), media companies can do more than just deliver messages — they can create services across the entire marketing services value chain.

PQ’s Kivijarv says much of marketing services growth, in fact are forms of media that are not classified under traditional advertising spending, such as custom publications created by consumer or B-to-B marketers that are beginning to supplant conventional ad spending in magazines – a big factor holding down growth in the magazine marketplace.

But as much as these new and traditional forms of marketing are beginning to cannibalize on traditional ad-supported media, VSS’ Greenberg notes that many traditional media companies are beginning to become significant players in marketing. “Take event marketing aimed at 18- to 34-year-olds,” he says. “Companies like MTV are helping to drive that.”

There is an opportunity for a single entity — call it media, marketing services, agency, whatever — to help companies connect with current and prospective customers through meaningful brand experiences and to empower those customers to participate in and increasingly drive the marketing process.

Media companies need to focus on leveraging their most important assets — relationships, engagement, and community — these are the new “vehicles” for marketing. Companies have these same assets with their loyal customers, but media holds the key to new customers. It’s no longer about just delivering a message — it’s about leveraging the connection that media (be it New York Times, MySpace, Boing Boing, YouTube, Digg, or Google) has with its users, who are increasingly driving the media (and in the case of MySpace ARE the media). It’s about enabling people to discover and connect with brands through meaningful, entertaining, and useful content and experiences, which media companies, who should know their audience/users best, are ideally positioned to facilitate.

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