The impact of new media Featured

7:00pm EDT December 31, 2006

The “new media” is having an impact on all avenues of marketing — and forcing marketers to be more analytical and creative than ever. As marketers attempt to woo consumers in this information age, they encounter increasing competition from the onslaught of images and messages vying for people’s attention. Known as “clutter,” this onslaught is encountered on virtually every surface or air wave available, from clever copy on billboards to screaming images on Web ads. One estimate is that this exposure exceeds 1 million impressions per person per year.

So how do marketers convert their impressions into sales in this new-media jungle? By making those impressions more meaningful to potential customers, says Bruce Ramsey, program chair of undergraduate marketing at Franklin University.

According to Ramsey, in today’s marketplace there is a certain amount of clutter in each area of both the new media and traditional media, and marketers need to quickly determine what is best for their company and make adjustments — as rapidly as possible.

Smart Business asked Ramsey how corporate marketing departments should react to meeting their increasingly difficult goals.

What is the new media?

New media is communication that is enabled by digital technology, such as the Internet, Web sites, e-mails, electronic kiosks, blogs and podcasts.

These areas — in particular the Internet, Web sites and e-mails — have grown so rapidly and garnered so much attention that it is now difficult to find new ways to market products that are not already in use. Plus, the line between new media and traditional media is blurred because the old media, such as print, have been recreated to work in concert with technology.

For example, not only does the corner gas station advertise with video on the pump, but there is also a product advertised on the pump handle. The sleeve that goes over your coffee cup at the corner coffee shop contains an ad for a cell phone, and ads surround you in doctors’ offices, on menus, outdoor video screens, and just about anything else that you can think of.

What changes do you see in the traditional media?

Subscription numbers are going down for print media. We are also seeing more consolidations. It is not that people aren’t looking for more information; rather, they are simply looking in new places. We’ll be seeing more creative ways to mitigate the decline of readership, listenership and viewership.

What is the impact on marketing programs?

Companies are putting more emphasis on branding as they look for more creative ways to get their messages out.

Related to this, there is exceedingly more pressure on marketing departments to measure costs and effects as those companies venture into new modes of advertising. Even more pressure is exerted because it is so much easier to measure with the Internet and Web sites.

How does a company make the most of marketing?

To quantify marketing efforts, marketers can look at their statistics, analyze what is working and what is not, and then maximize return by tweaking messages almost instantly in response. This type of analytical process needs to be built into each marketing campaign in order for it to be effective — and therefore successful. To accomplish this, marketing firms need to have employees who have more than just great creative minds; they need to have an analytical skill set.

How does a company make the most of customers?

Firms need to look even harder at the lifetime value (LTV) of the customer, as well as Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Some companies have looked at the C and the M and have completely ignored the R, or relationship part. The relationship you build to keep your customers is essential, because reaching a customer through today’s clutter can be a monumental task. Keeping customers also helps gain new customers. As satisfied customers talk to noncustomers, some of them are more likely to try your product or service.

How do we educate for the demands of new media?

As the new media emerged as a factor in marketing, universities stayed in step. We thoroughly studied the Internet and developed ways to use that media in marketing. Now, as the electronic formats have become so pivotal to marketing, we are looking at the total marketing picture and teaching students how to use and measure the various media holistically.

BRUCE RAMSEY is program chair of undergraduate marketing at Franklin University. With more than 18 years of professional experience in the field of marketing, Ramsey also holds an M.S. in communication from Indiana University and an M.B.A. from Ohio University in addition to being a doctoral student at The Ohio State University. Reach him at ramseyb@franklin.edu or (614) 947-6147.