Category Archives: High Touch Media

FACESofCHANGE: Engage Youth

An article about my last study, done in partnership with, in this month’s VUE.

The full text is here:   FACESofCHANGE

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Filed under High Touch Media, Research, Transmedia

Story Telling vs. Integration

I’ve been working with Andrea Hadley, eMetrics Conference Director, on putting together the “Transmedia and Multi-Channel Media Experience” panel for this month’s Toronto conference and we’ve been discussing what sort of panelists we should include: content producers versus marketers.

I asserted that a multiplatform advertising campaign qualifies as transmedia story telling if the messaging engages an audience with a brand narrative across platforms/mediums.  Andrea made the point that entertainment groups seem to have a better understanding of leveraging each medium for its unique value by producing unique ways to engage and in many cases unique content for each medium as opposed to repurposing the same content across each medium.  I had to agree that that is the case more often than not.

It wasn’t so many years ago that the dialogue around integrated marketing centred around the importance of having a consistent message in every channel.  Given budgets, timing and quality control that typically meant exactly the same message (copy, visuals, offer) reformatted for each channel used.  No one wanted to confuse a consumer or waste an impression by deviating from a single minded campaign message.  Today, to play effectively in that “high touch” end of spectrum you need to add to or augment the brand story in each medium.  It’s more possible now than ever before and more importantly, consumers expect it.

Ad noticability correlates with relevance.  People pay attention to what they are interested in and when they are really interested they want to get involved.  As part of a research project I’m working on, I talked to a number of 18 -24 year olds about advertising.  Over and over they recalled ads that appealed to interests they already had and expressed disappointment at incidents where they felt like the messaging ended in a dead end – pulled into websites and Facebook pages that didn’t provide more information or any real interaction.  I asked my 17 year if he could tell me about a campaign (good or bad) that he’s noticed recently.  He mentioned the current 5 for 5 Taco Bell campaign.  Good news: he’s in the target market!  Bad news: his criticism was that the online banner ads were identical to the subway posters – enough all ready.  Seems like a missed opportunity to me. (BTW while his perception is that the ads are every where and he’s being beaten over the head, I’ve not noticed them at all!)

One of my favourite transmedia stories is Bitchin Kitchen.  A well articulated brand with solid content that offers a different experience in each channel (TV, web, Facebook).  You can enjoy each element on its own, but they work together to deepen appreciation and engagement, turning audiences into fans.  The brand look and feel is consistent in every channel but the specific content/message is appropriate to the particular time and place.  Fun stuff and way smart too.

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Filed under High Touch Media, Transmedia


Yesterday I was asked if my idea of polarization was basically high touch = brand building activity and high tech = direct response.  I don’t thinks so.  In fact, I also don’t think this phenomenon is limited to media:  it a applies to marketing communications as a whole.

Sure brands are looking for love when they engage in high touch activities – consideration, preference, loyalty.  But these campaigns very often also involve opportunities for sampling/trial, being rewarded for referring new customers and other direct actions more closely tied to sales.   The win is engagement with the brand, not engagement with the message.

Direct response marketers have certainly been early adopters at the high tech end of the spectrum.  But package goods advertisers and others looking for awareness and influence play there as well – they want targeted, efficient, optimized, unduplicated reach and controlled frequency.

What does this look like from a creative rather than media perspective?   At the high touch end we see a focus on the big idea that can run across any media and by taken up by the consumer.   At the high tech end, dynamic creative is the goal – copy, images (and of course offers) are assembled from a pool of assets and optimized on the fly.  Again, ads and audience just don’t cut it anymore.

This phenomenon is happening in all areas of marketing communications.  In the social marketing/earned media/PR camp we see a ramping up of high touch activities with more emphasis on events and trans media story telling.  At the high tech end, we see earned and owned media optimized to drive organic search results and the quest to harness the power of social media monitoring.

I sat in on a “virtual microconference” this week that explored the high tech end of the spectrum and it’s impact on every single area of marketing.  The Future of Marketing 2: Technology-drivien Personalization had 60 speakers in 60 minutes sharing insights.   I highly recommend you have a listen.   Find out what leaders from CRM, Social Marketing, eCommerce, Public Relations, Advertising, Publishing, Media, Mobile, and more believe about how personalization is and will change marketing.

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Filed under High Tech Media, High Touch Media

Polarization part 2: High Touch

This is the sexy end of spectrum where we see experiential marketing, digital,  social and mass media marvelously orchestrated, compelling trans-media story telling, awards being won… Is this end of the spectrum the big win?  I love this video poking fun at it all:

Of course it really isn’t as simple as a just running a newspaper ad anymore – ads and audiences don’t cut it.   Here’s an interesting counterpoint: this campaign from the TVB was designed to show the power of television, but it clearly also illustrates no medium stands alone.

No doubt amazing things can happen when a big idea grounded in a consumer insight & on brand is powered by a well thought out combination of paid, earned & owned media.  Check out this award winner.

However, there are lots of challenges at this end of spectrum: nervous advertisers who want to see proposals but are reluctant to fund them, agencies expert in some channels but not all (and not always able to partner effectively), the incredible cost in labour to project management these campaigns, the importance of the illusive big creative  idea, and maybe most importantly, the uncertain outcomes – will consumers get involved and will this time and money payout?

The payout is a big question.   It’s a challenge to measure the effectiveness of each individual element and it’s a challenge to measure total campaign effectiveness; it’s almost impossible to measure the contribution each element made to whole.   I’ll be exploring metrics at this end of the spectrum at the eMetric Marketing Optimization Summit.  Look for me at the Transmedia and Multi-Channel Media Experiences session on April 29th.

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Filed under High Touch Media

the polarization of media planning and buying

I’ve talked a lot about this trend at recent seminars and conference.  While the bulk of what agencies do is ads and audiences, I see that advertisers are increasing wanting to see more activity at the far ends of the spectrum:

The high tech end of the spectrum is a hot bed of activity.  Check out Terence Kawaja’s talk on this.

Does this crazy world matter to anyone outside the display advertising world?  I believe so.  As more media goes digital, what we know about distributing, tracking and optimizating online advertising will apply to OOH, TV.  This will completely transform the media buying business.

No doubt there are hurdles.  The  legacy systems and resources big agencies and media companies contend with make it difficult to profitably “retool” at the pace demanded – plus there’s still lots of manual labour and intellectual leadership required despite the automation you might expect.   The reluctance, particularly in Canada, to invest in what is seen as a smaller piece of the media investment pie holds us back.  (although this does seem to be changing with recent activity at  Bell as an example).   Privacy issues need to be negotiated – are we citizens or consumers?  Rights of way have to be navigated between content producers, rights owners and distributers – the struggle between disintermediation (, YouTube) and vertical integration (Rogers, Bell) will continue.  Fun times!

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Filed under High Tech Media, High Touch Media