A Brand New World

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Audiences are now more fragmented than ever before thanks to the continuous rise of social media, streaming services, and mobile. Resulting from these new technologies are countless niche groups of consumers that must be targeted differently than in the past. As many of today’s advertisers and brands know all too well, this makes reaching audiences incredibly difficult.

To help provide some guidance for advertising professionals grappling with this new environment, Contributing Editor for Deadline Hollywood, Dade Hayes, sat down with marketing and media leaders including former Executive Vice President and Global Chief Marketing Officer of Toys ‘R’ Us, Carla Hassan, Head of Marketing and Partner Solutions at Viacom, Sean Moran, and Chief Executive Officer of Investment and Integrated Services for Omnicom Media Group North America, John Swift.

The seasoned professionals offered a wide array of advice throughout the discussion, beginning with how to approach the challenge of audience engagement.

“We’re actually in a place where there’s a chance to target viewers through Vantage or to have brands exist on platforms that are measurable,” said Moran, referencing Viacom’s advanced advertising product. “So, we’ve embraced the fragmentation.”

In Swift’s eyes, fragmentation is a core part of his job today and something he views as a positive attribute.

“I’ve never been more excited. What we like to say to clients is ‘our job is to put the fragmented world back together for you,’” Swift said. “You have to balance mass reach with almost surgical precision.”

The notion of balance is something Hassan echoed in many of her thoughts, remarking that the true winners in this new world will be the ones who manage to “balance the heart and the science.” While utilizing the latter in the form of consumer data seems to be an obvious step for most organizations, many brands struggle to impact the “heart,” or the emotions of consumers.

A possible solution to this is event marketing, which invites consumers to intimately connect with a brand through a physical experience such as a concert or an exhibit. Hassan said this type of marketing is effective because it encompasses much more than the event itself.

“The opportunities there are endless because it’s not just what’s happening in a live event, it’s actually how the live event is being amplified through everybody’s social channel — not just yours — and I think that part is both exciting and also nerve-wracking,” Hassan said.

The social media platforms consumers choose to use is also of great importance to advertisers. As Swift explained, the context you put your brand into matters because the corresponding audiences active on each one will be drastically different.

As the conversation came to a close, Hayes asked each panelist to share their key takeaway with the audience. For Hassan, the advice was simple: be clear about your goals and slow down. Too often brands jump from an idea to immediate production without thinking about what its aspirations are.

Similarly, Moran told brands to focus on collaboration over anything else if they want to make progress towards their future goals. “The future is publishers, agencies and advertisers first agreeing on a value proposition, then making new formats,” he said.

Swift’s concise piece of advice: don’t forget the consumer. Because in the end, consumers control this new world of fragmentation and extreme connection, and today’s brands have no choice but to listen to them.

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