Amidst the noise and the cacophony of the new it’s sometimes worth looking for simplifying thoughts. For generations advertising has been a message delivery function. You decide what you want to say, you decide to who you want to say it, you identify the media consumption habits of the who and buy exposure in those media to deliver the what. You measure its effect. That’s it.
Today message delivery remains important, there is no dimunition of the craft skills, on the contrary creating messaging that engages, and aggregating reach in environments that consumers care about is both harder and more important than it’s ever been. If you aspire to selling millions of units you just have to reach millions of people.
The flip side of delivery is discovery. The multiple billions of searches and social actions represent a complex puzzle that reveals a great deal about consumer behavior and intention. This presents a creative and media challenge that can be summarised as “where should I be found? what should they find? what will they do with what they find?
Developing a discovery strategy is the real heart of the emerging marketing practices of search and social media. It involves asset creation, optimization and distribution and is, in a general sense, a far more atomized approach than advertising with a far higher failure rate.
To operate such a practice at scale offers limited economies and requires more human inputs from both clients and their agencies and it’s probably true to say that vigorous supply side optimization on both sides over many years has hampered progress. The current economic unpleasantness is hardly helping as the emphasis of price over value has never been greater. The simple truth is that every brand needs more and more complex creative assets to push into the ecosystem, it needs more channel experts that understand discovery and more resources to apply to both. In the delivery business brand owners have received a recession dividend in reduced costs per thousand. The smartest ones will re-invest the delivery dividend in the assets and processes required to win in discovery.