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Media Issues (II)
Contemporary Media and its Advantages :
1. Introduction : One-way media are used most often for creating brand awareness, helping position a brand, and keeping the brand top-of-mind with customers and prospects. In contrast, interactive media are used not only for generating repeat purchases but also for communicating with prospects who have expressed interest in a brand. Interactive media are extremely valuable in building brand relationships because they enable companies and customers to get to know and trust each other. 2. Communication and Technology : The internet is a powerful interactive media. Despite its failure a few years ago, it can do wonders. Results of several companies show that when the internet is properly integrated, it can be a wonderful and powerful medium that successfully drives e-commerce. E-Commerce is the online business transactions and interactions. E-Business is actually much more encompassing, and is how all business operations (accounting, production, distribution, as well as marketing and sales) are driven by computers that use the internet as a data communication platform. a. Integrating Interactivity into relationship building : One of the major changes in today’s marketplace is the increased communication between companies and customers. Earlier the marketing world was much simpler when all that the company did was to send the brand messages to the customers. The increasing use of interactive technology leads customers to expect two-way communication with companies, i.e., better customer service. They want to ask questions, place orders, and register complaints. b. The Internet : Driving this increase in interactivity is increasing access to and use of the internet. Consumer and business use of internet is expanding rapidly because the internet is both inexpensive and easy to use. But the rapid growth has created a problem for many companies, namely, how to handle and manage the increase in interactivity. In an attempt to better manage make use of internet facilitated interactivity, intranets and extranets have been set up, Broadband has been greatly expanded, and companies are experimenting to discover how best to integrate wireless communication into their MC operations. c. Features : There have been important advances in communication technology throughout history, but from a growth perspective, the most phenomenal is the internet which is a world wide system of linked computer networks. The internet’s greater characteristics from a marketing perspective are being a relatively inexpensive, interactive communication medium. It helps companies connect and build stronger brand relationship with customers, employees and other stakeholders by increasing the power of two-way communication.
d. The Intranet and Extranet : The internet has also become a major internal medium for companies that have set up intranets. Companies also use extranets, which connect employees with all key external stakeholders such as MC agencies, suppliers, distributors etc. As a medium of MC, the internet combines the characteristics of many other media- newspapers, magazines, catalogues, TV and directories.
e. Disadvantages : But the internet is like a two-edged sword. Today, a major problem with a brand can be communicated around the world within minutes by dissatisfied customers. The greater the problem the faster the word will spread. f. Convergence : TV, Cable, Computer, and Phone companies all are scrambling to take leadership positions in the new world of convergence, which is the combining of telephone, computer and TV into one interactive communication device.
g. Building Brand Relationship : Using sophisticated software, the companies can target brand messages to individuals and quickly modify message content with customised image and appeals. The same info can be used to make a company more responsive to its customers by providing easy access to information. Real time, targeted, personalised, and interactive brand messages- that is one of the major differences in MC created by the internet. And it is a powerful tool in building customer relationship. h. Advantages : Although dot com bust at the turn of the millennium put a dark cloud over e-commerce and the internet, the internet continues to play an important role in MC. The internet is still a minor ad medium and buying channel, it has tremendous potential to be critically active in consumers’ and B2B customers’ brand decision making by : i. Shifting power from companies to customers by offering them more choices. Customers can do comparative shopping and learn about brands, not only from the brands’ websites but also from third parties, more quickly and easily than ever before. Being accessible to the majority of the population. Individuals who don’t have access at home can go on line at work or public locations such as libraries, schools, and internet cafés.
iii. Providing an extensive range of info. Internet users have access to a wealth of information about companies, brands, and nearly every subject one can think of. iv. Allowing for unsurpassed speed and coverage. Especially since the advent of high-speed connection services, info travels across the internet almost instantaneously in most parts of the world. v. Reducing the cost of entry. Opening a business online is far less costly than opening a traditional brick-and-mortar business. vi. Reducing operating costs. Selling online is less costly than operating a brickand-mortar facility. i. Wireless Communication : Wireless transmission of data and information is probably the single most significant change in media technology, during the first decade of the new millennium. Marketers will be attracted to wireless advertising for several reasons : i. ii. Customers are increasingly mobile, Messages can be targeted not only by individual cellular phone no. but also by time and location of targeted customers, and
iii. Wireless provides one more way to reinforce brand awareness and motivate customers to respond. It is expected that wireless messages will be most successful when used to redirect customers to certain web-site and to 2
sponsor web pages that are likely to be accessed with cellular device, and for “click-and-dial”. j. Addressable Media and Interactive Media : Addressable media and interactive media are reshaping brand relationship. i. Addressable Media : Besides serving as communication vehicles for product offers to customers, addressable media- e-mail, mail, phone, and fax can deliver messages asking research questions about level of brand satisfaction, further purchase intentions, and reactions to new promotional offers. With the right messages these media can help retain current customer and increase a brand’s share of their category spending. For major-purchase goods and services, it can often be cost-justified to use addressable media to reach targeted prospects. Interactive Media : Interactive media take a step beyond the ability of addressable media in making more intimate the relationship between the brands and customers. Companies have traditionally asked, “How best can we send messages to our customers and prospects?”. They are now beginning to recognise that another question is just as important : “How can our customers easily send messages to us?”. Companies that sincerely want customers and prospects to talk to them need to provide options for communicating with the company- fax, phone, e-mail, a website, or mail. The more flexibility there is to interact with a company, the more consumers are likely to do so.
iii. Difference Between Addressable Media and Interactive Media : The difference between addressable media and interactive media is simply in how they are used. The internet can be used as a mass medium (banner ads) an addressable medium (e-mail), or an interactive medium (live chat). From a customer’s perspective, interactivity means accessibility, recognition, and responsiveness – and all these things people require in a relationship, whether personal or commercial. iv. Difference Between Mass Media and Interactive Media : There are four characteristics which set interactive media apart from mass media : 1. They can target individuals as well as customer segments, 2. They can demand more attention than mass media because of the personalised brand messages they can carry 3. They can be used by customers and prospects to talk to a company, 4. They are more measurable and accountable than mass media. k. E-Mail marketing : Today more and more people are going in for e-mail. And this is good news for marketers because e-mail is the least expensive form of one-toone communication; E-mail has become a very popular and effective way to reach customers because of its simplicity and low cost. Although unsolicited emails (called spam) are a major source of irritation, many internet service providers provide e-mail service free and with advanced spam filter and control. To take care of the spam, the companies may adopt Opt-in and Opt-out Strategies : i. Opt-in Strategy : E-mails are highly intrusive and customer receptivity is an important consideration in the proper use of e-mail campaigns. Customers who “opt-in” actually give permission or agree to receive e-mails from a company or a brand trying to sell to them and they don’t perceive the 3
messages as spam. Spam is very bothersome, and needs a lot of time and effort to remove. To motivate customers to opt-in the companies use quizzes, games, sweepstakes or promise of rewards or wallpaper, screensaver, etc. to get the personal data which can be used at a later and more suitable time. Benefits of the opt-in strategies are : 1. To qualify the person or the company as being interested in the product category, 2. When customers do sign up, smart companies ask profile questions (without asking name and address) so they have a better idea of their customers’ demographics, lifestyles, which can be used to anticipate needs and wants. ii. Opt-out Strategy : Another method which is less harmful than spamming is the opt-out e-mail, which is a series of messages the companies keep sending automatically and regularly until specifically notified or requested to stop. Or in other words, when a consumer signs up for some info giving its e-mail id, by default he starts receiving several other messages which are unwanted. The consumer has to opt-out to get rid of this. For this there are some guidelines formulated by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA). According to this e-mails can only be used : 1. To solicit current customer only, 2. To contact individuals or companies who have opted-in, 3. To contact individuals or companies who have not opted-out after being given the opportunity to do so, 4. By marketers who have assurance from list brokers that name supplied conform to one or more of the above. iii. E-Mail Formats : E-mail marketing can be done in several formats which can be selected on the basis of MC objectives. They are : 1. Ads : Companies can send e-mail ads in plain text, rich format, or Multi Media (MM) format which is e-mail with audio, video, animation etc. This can come in the e-mail itself, or as an attachment or as a link to the original website. 2. Newsletters : Marketers send mass e-mails in the form a standard newsletter of a company regarding brand related topic. These e-mails can’t be replied. 3. Publicity : News releases are distributed online not only to editors but also to others to know about a company’s announcements. iv. Strengths : 1. Delivery of e-mails is very inexpensive and consumes less time and space or postage. 2. Research has shown that e-mail is the most effective form of online marketing, because it can be personalised and relatively inexpensive. 3. It is particularly an effective way to retain customers. 4. Most e-mails ads are designed to encourage “click through” – the act of responding by clicking on a link to go directly to a particular website.
5. Once an e-mail message is produced, it has a relatively small distribution cost. It doesn’t depend on the size of audience or the size of the messages. v. Weaknesses : 1. E-mails produce clutter, even if the customers have “opted-in”. Internet research companies have forecast that the clutter is going to be the worse in future. 2. The cost of equipment, hardware, software and the personnel are high. The spam control software etc. is also expensive. 3. The cost of collection of the e-mail IDs of the target customers and prospects are very high and difficult. 4. Customers have a perception that e-mails are very fast and hence they expect replies to their queries within a short time say 12 to 48 hrs., which is a tall order for the companies that receive tens of thousands of e-mail queries a day. People are not satisfied with an automated answer or acknowledgement. l. Website Marketing : Most of the major MC functions use internet along with the other major media to connect with the customers and prospects. The internet and websites are brand message expanders, which mean that regular MC messages can direct customers to visit the company’s website for more and detailed info about the brand. These are some features : i. Users spend about 25% of their online time in gathering info. This is good news for the companies. It means (1) an increasing no. of customers and prospects are getting into the habit of gathering info, and (2) the internet is becoming an economical medium for distribution of brand info. Websites provide unique brand touch points with online communities and chat rooms. A creatively designed website that is interactive and fun to visit will not only attract the visitors but will extend their stay.
iii. The most important step for directing customers and prospects to a website is to register it with as many search engines as possible in order to gain visibility and site visits. Search engines are internet tools that use key-words to find websites and page contents. iv. Online Brand Communities : A valuable aspect of a website is to bring together customers and prospects to share ideas on how to use company’s products. These are known as virtual communities, which are groups of people who focus on certain online activities and establish relationships with one another. Some corporate websites have provision for chat rooms that allow people to talk to one another in real time. The marketing benefits of collecting internet users into like-minded groups is that it aggregates people into addressable target markets. It creates bonds, which may deliver goodwill to community sponsors, and it allows company to listens to its customers providing a type of real time research. v. Online Customer Service : Responding to customers is a critical management responsibility, and another area in which a website can add value to a brand or company. Experts say that customer service is not the last rung on the ladder at the end of the sale, but rather the first- it begins the moment someone arrives on a website. There are three necessary elements for delivering good customer service online : 5
1. Thorough and easy-to-use information at the website : Simple sites may employ a frequently asked question (FAQ), a question list, which supplies the answers to commonly asked questions. More sophisticated sites usually offer an index or search engines, which allows users to find help by typing in key-words. 2. Customisable products and services : More and more companies are creating websites that allow customers to design the products and services they want. 3. Human interaction : Rarely does a site provide answers to all possible questions. Often there’s still a need for a user to communicate with a real person. Companies should provide toll-free numbers so that online users know where to call. They should also allow for easy use of e-mail. But all these options should not be provided if the response rate is going to be slow. No online consumers should have to wait more than 24 hrs for an answer by e-mail. A quicker solution is a direct online link to a customer service representative. The user is able to type in questions and receive immediate responses. Another variation allows users to type in a question and then receive an immediate call back from a customer service representative. 3. e-Commerce : In the beginning it was thought that the online companies would dominate the e-commerce. But slowly more and more traditional companies switched over to e-commerce. Most of them are traditional retailers. Some of the reasons for this evaluation are that these retailers are established brands have marketing experiences, and have installed IT systems. a. Features : From a customer’s point of view, online shopping is fast, convenient, and easy. A study by an MR group found that online companies have done a fairly good job of attracting customers to their website. They have been less successful at retaining customers, however; the retention rate overall is actually decreasing. One reason for the disappointing level of retention is the fact that more than half of online retailers don’t make use of the internets interactive technology. i. ii. The product categories with the highest volume of online sales are electronics, CDs, Books, Computer software, apparel, and toys and games. Online ticketing is another growing category. People have found that they can printout tickets for air travel, rail travel, sports events, and so on from their home printers, along with other information that won’t fit on conventional printed tickets, such as schedules and maps.
b. Reasons for using e-Commerce : Some business groups who do business thro’ ecommerce say that half of their online sales are coming from new customers, indicating the reach of the internet. The following list shows the main marketing reasons why businesses use e-commerce : i. ii. To reach world-wide audiences. To provide alternative channels of distribution.
iii. To have a cost effective dialogue with customers and prospects. iv. To aggregate niche audience in order to reach a critical mass of customers. v. To provide information. frequently updated prices and other important product
vi. To improve customer service by providing access to the company 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. vii. To collect instant feedback and conduct market research, which can be interactive and immediately tallied and tabulated. c. Internet Barriers and Concerns : We all agree that e-commerce has great potential, but there are several barriers, as follows : i. ii. The internet has become an information jungle that is cluttered and difficult to navigate. For the companies using e-commerce, the MC challenge is to make the website easy to find within the clutter, and once found, easy to navigate. and much less in it’s only about 3%). them have dial-up slow and torturous.
iii. Only half of the population in developed countries developing countries have access to internet (in India Even among those who have access, majority of (narrowband) telephone lines, which makes downloading
iv. When it comes to buying online, people are unwilling to disclose their credit card numbers. This means that the trust is lacking. And also for security reasons because of the possibility of hacking. d. Offline Advertising for Online Businesses : Originally online companies tended to place their brand messages only on their websites, and not thro’ any other media, on the assumption that offline (outside the website) advertising is too expensive. If the company wants to reach only people who have internet address then why advertise anywhere else ? But slowly these companies realised that offline advertising, properly planned and targeted could be cost-effective. The most economical way to advertise is to do joint links and off-line cross-promotions with sites whose audiences are similar or related. e. On-Line Brand Communication : For the online business to mature, marketing is getting more and more important. New online business companies spend 25-50% of their total budget on MC. Unfortunately many of the earlier online companies paid little attention to building their brands and paid the price- bankruptcy. They focused on technology and other things, but not on brand knowledge and respect. Brand building is especially important for online companies for two reasons : i. ii. f. The internet lowers the barriers to entry; starting a company online is easier than setting up a traditional company for retail operation. The internet makes it possible to build brands incredibly fast.
Online Advertising Growing Fast : Although still a fraction of total media spending, online ad is growing faster than any other type of ad. i. Advantages : Advertising online offers a number of advantages : 1. Interactivity : Companies and customers can engage in a dialogue. 2. Flexibility : Brand messages can be instantly changed / revised if not producing desired results. 3. Precise targeting : People who come to a website are interested in site’s topic, product category, or brand and therefore more likely to respond. 4. Quick results : Because people are online 24 hours X 7 days, as soon as an offer is placed online, it has a potential audience that can immediately reply. 7
5. Measurable : Hits, click-throughs, and purchases can easily be tracked. ii. Features : Online ads come from online companies as well as from offline retailers who want customers and prospects to visit their websites. As online advertising has become more common, however, users have learned to ignore it. Thus ad or MC agencies are always on the lookout for new and better ways to attract attention. Often this results in increasingly intrusive online advertising. Thus the real challenge is to find out the right balance between attraction and irritation.
© Himansu S M / Written Oct-2006, Published Feb-2010