Turning digital disruption into a fresh advantage

How do you reach your target consumers in the digital age, especially when the efficacy of traditional media outlets is in serious decline?

There has been a marked drop in the number of people consuming traditional media such as commercial free-to-air TV, radio and print newspapers and magazines. This shift from traditional to new media has accelerated in the past couple of years, especially with the emergence of streaming services such as Netflix in the Australian market.

And this is really only the beginning. Technology and tastes will continue to flatten the media landscape, with traditional media slowly dissolving into the spectrum of media options available to consumers, as well as advertisers.

We’re already seeing major publishers such as Fairfax flagging the end of weekday editions of their print mastheads The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, with more resources being poured into digital and social media iterations of their editorial products.

The big free-to-air TV networks are pegging their fortunes on reality TV shows such as Masterchef and The Block, as well as live sports broadcasts. Those big blockbusters you used to wait months to see on Channels 9, 7, or 10 are now on Foxtel, Netflix or Stan – think Game of Thrones. Fewer people are watching free-to-air and many more are streaming or downloading.

Commercial radio is facing its own monumental shift, with not only streaming but also podcasts now taking a sizeable chunk out of its market.

The shift to digital media is well-documented and if you don’t believe the figures, just go and do an anecdotal survey of the media consumption habits of your friends and family.

According to this report in Ad Age, citing research from Standard Media Index, “about [US] $1.1 billion in national TV spend was rerouted to digital, of which a staggering 87%, or $960 million, was plundered from broadcast”. These are figures from the US market but the trend is similar here in Australia.

So then the question for brand managers becomes, how do we navigate this ongoing shift and target the consumers we want to reach?

Well the conventional thinking in the past few years has been to pump money into things such as banner ads, but the reach of these sorts of ads is questionable, and with more and more people using ad blocker software, the efficacy of such ads is now near to negligible.

In short, the passive advertising that companies have done in the past in order to get their brand message out to consumers is just that, a thing of the past. In some ways things have got harder for brands because consumers are now far more savvy, saturated in media as they are, and brands have to work harder at active forms of engagement rather than passive advertising.

I spoke about this issue a few weeks ago at the PMA (Produce Marketing Association) Fresh Connections conference, focusing on the experience my firm Bendalls has had working with Pure Gold Pineapples.

Without wishing to blow our own trumpet (OK, just a little toot), I thought it was a case study that exemplified how important things strong content marketing, social media engagement and brand advocacy have become, especially for companies that are not multinational corporations with pockets deep enough to just throw more money at a problem.

Pure Gold Pineapples have a great story to tell (I shared a little of it here previously), and just as important, they’re keen to share that story with an audience. That means they’ve put some serious effort into content marketing that targets their audience and jumped into social media networks to share and connect with people, who are then going on to become valuable brand advocates.

It’s an active brand strategy that takes into account the declining reach and power of traditional media for brand messaging and instead embraces the digital tools available to companies, big and small. It’s not the easy-fix solution of an expensive TV ad. It’s about building lasting relationships with consumers that lead to real brand awareness, engagement, and reach.

Pure Gold Pineapples have said more than two million pineapples have been sold in the last six weeks, which is more than ever before, so they’re definitely doing something right.

Fi Bendall is CEO of The Bendalls Group, a business that leads STRATEGY : ADVOCACY : MOBILE delivering the business acumen to drive effective positive results in a disruptive economy for the C-suite. Fi has recently won a Westpac/AFR 2015 100 Women of Influence award. 

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