With media consumption shifting to mobile platforms in an increasingly fragmented environment, media companies face the uncomfortable prospect of trading dollars for dimes, while marketers and agencies are challenged with greater complexity in reaching desired audiences.
But what may appear as a dark cloud is actually full of silver linings, and those who get ahead of the curve in embracing this change can not only survive but thrive in the post-PC paradigm. Below are five strategies to help digital media companies traverse this tricky terrain:
Capture value from incremental media usage.
The mobile revolution may be disruptive, but it's a net value-creating event for the media industry because it helps reach incremental audiences and drive additional engagement. The average Top 25 Digital Media Property measured by comScore extends its audience reach by 29% and drives 78% more overall activity via smartphones and tablets. While some cannibalization of computer access is undoubtedly occurring, there is the meaningful opportunity for publishers to realize more ad dollars from incremental media consumption and for advertisers to reach incremental but elusive demographic segments in a cost-effective manner.
Develop content and ads that scale across platforms.
A common gripe with the mobile medium is that it requires unique design and reconfiguration of both content and ad units to fit the parameters of a smaller screen. And the return on these investments may not look particularly attractive to publishers when considering the current state of mobile CPMs. But some media companies are overcoming these challenges by re-thinking their content design in order to easily translate to smartphones and tablets. Others are developing "native ad" units, such as Facebook's Sponsored Story or Twitter's Promoted Tweet, which seamlessly integrate into the content stream on any device. It may require a little upfront investment, clever design work, and creative strategy, but content and ads can scale across platforms.
Build an integrated multi-platform strategy to optimize the marketing mix.
Developing a truly integrated multi-platform strategy is a challenge for even the best organizations, many of which have dedicated teams for each medium. But the benefits of integration can be profound. Media companies who know their audiences and where each segment can best be reached have more ways to deliver high-performing inventory to their advertiser clients. Marketers and agencies who can plan across platforms can achieve their reach/frequency or GRP/TRP objectives more efficiently. The cost-savings benefit of optimizing through efficiency are clear, but top line gains can also be realized from increased campaign efficacy by reaching consumers at multiple touch-points. In years past, it was found that a radio campaign overlaid on TV was incrementally effective. Similarly, comScore research has shown synergistic effects when a display ad campaign is overlaid on a search campaign, and the same is likely true of being exposed to a brand's advertising across multiple media platforms.
Reinforce primary marketing and monetization channels.
In addition to the synergistic effect of exposure across multiple platforms, there is also potential benefit in simply reinforcing primary channels like TV or web. Mobile content consumption fills the gaps during many points of the day when consumers are not in front of a large screen, whether that's on the way to work, out for lunch, or in bed at night. These additional occasions can help consumers stay engaged with brands throughout the day and drive even more engagement with the primary channels. In a multi-platform study of the 2012 London Olympics that comScore conducted for NBC, we found that Olympics enthusiasts who engaged with NBC content across TV, web, smartphone and tablet spent 37% more time viewing TV than those who only engaged via TV and web. In other words, consumers who stayed connected to the action by way of mobile devices watched more TV, thereby bolstering the primary revenue driver for Olympics coverage. We also found no evidence of secondary platforms cannibalizing from the primary platforms.
Prove the value of mobile audiences and ads.
The mobile ad ecosystem is currently struggling to demonstrate the value of the medium, and has not yet put forth a sufficiently convincing argument. Beating one's chest about a 0.5% CTR is just building a house of cards; most marketers understand that (a) a sizeable percentage of clicks are of the fat-finger variety, and (b) mobile devices are inherently less transactional. Proving the value of mobile ads in the near term means communicating the value of smartphone audiences (22% more likely to come from $100K households) and tablet audiences (38% more likely). Over time, it will be crucial to demonstrate the branding impact of these ads and tie ad exposure to a lift in brand sales.
There are plenty of strategies available for both marketers and media companies to share in the value created by a multi-platform environment. It's not a zero sum game. Incremental audiences can be reached, consumer engagement enhanced, and improved advertising effectiveness both achieved and quantified.
It's a Brave New Digital World. Are you ready for it?