Q: IN YOUR seminar on ad effectiveness we recall your telling us that ad media is responsible for attaining the target consumers? awareness and recall responses. It?s the ad copy especially its ?creative? that takes care of the advertised brand?s image and consumer motivation response.
We recently attended a media briefing. Among others, the claim now is that media has the power to ?inspire and provoke consumer engagement.? You used those three words in your column on activation four or five weeks ago. Are media the means or forms of activation? And are not ?image? and ?motivation? the same as ?engagement?? And if so, isn?t it therefore wrong to claim that media can inspire and provoke consumer engagement since this is the function of copy and not media? Your answers will help us decide whether to place our priority on media over creative or the other way around.
A: Let?s start with a bit of history to lend perspective to our diagnosis and prescription. When advertising was born in 1704, advertising was media. In fact advertising was defined then as ?salesmanship in print.? The ?salesman? was the advertiser who took charge of copy and creative (i.e., the what and how to say the ad message), and the ?oral sales presentation? was via newspaper first and later the magazine (i.e., the where and when to advertise).
Then in the early 1840s with the opening of the first ad agency, advertising separated from selling and ad copy redefined advertising as media plus creative. It was in the ?50s and ?60s with the 1954 Marlboro Man Campaign, the 1960 ?Creative Team? approach of DDB to crafting the Volkswagen ?Think Small? campaign, and the 1962 reign of David Ogilvy?s ?Big Idea? to advertising creative, that advertising redefined itself as creative first and media second.
It was in the ?80s and ?90s with the fragmentation of the media landscape, the coming of the Internet, and consolidation of mass media via a series of acquisitions and mergers, that advertising came full circle. Media regained first position above creative in the advertising hierarchical equation. Along with this change, came attribution of ?new? capabilities to media. One of these is its influence on consumer engagement.
We used the word ?new? in quotation marks because the idea that media engages consumers is not really new. In 1964, I was an ardent reader and devoted fan of Marshall McLuhan who became famous for the aphorism ?the medium is the message.? McLuhan explained the concept in his 1964 book, ?Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man.? The book called attention to the ?intrinsic effects? of media and its influence ?independent of its content.?
That there is such a thing as media engagement may be said to have originated in McLuhan?s pioneering work. But how exactly do media engage consumers?
In our column on activation, we said that activation as a stimulus is after the consumer?s end-response of engagement. How does activation provoke and inspire consumer engagement? Activation does this by being present and then working its influence in the consumer?s ?contact points.? Activation makes its presence and work felt via the appropriate media for a given contact point. Some quarters in fact talk of activation as being inside all of the consumer?s contact points.
Here, media has a broadened definition and includes both traditional and non-traditional media. This is why McLuhan includes even seminars and dialogues as media. By its presence and work in a consumer contact point, how does this end up in an engagement response from the consumer?
When successful in being present and in working on a contact point, a media is actively and positively experienced. The different media effectively working on different consumer contact points sums up to a totality of experiences that synergize into that end response of consumer engagement.
From the foregoing, media engagement research therefore means researching into those experiences of media vis-ŕ-vis consumer contact points. This was the media research I was working on in the late ?80s and early ?90s in partnership with a creative media professional, Malu Vasallo. We had crafted and completed a logically strong research design and were about to test the design when we had to part ways because the ad agency that was funding our research was acquired by a leading global ad company.
If Malu will agree to my writing about that research project for this column, this should be a good sequel. Or better yet, we will invite Malu to be our guest columnist in that sequel.
Keep your questions coming. Send them to us at MarketingRx@pldtDSL.net or firstname.lastname@example.org. God bless!