Picture: THE TIMES
Picture: THE TIMES

No longer are radio, television, print or out-of-home (OOH) discrete advertising opportunities – they’ve become bound in a web held together by the silk thread of digital technology.

Integrated 360˚ omnichannel marketing campaigns that create touchpoints at every part of a consumer’s day – by combining traditional and digital mediums – is what it’s all about if brands are committed to boosting their sales.

But how do advertisers, media planners and agencies get multichannel marketing right?

In the most recent Future of Media event, the focus was on how to navigate the new media environment to prioritise the right amount of attention and resources to the various platforms – whether its social media, print, online, radio, TV, or OOH. The discussion was moderated by Siya Sangweni of CliffCentral.com, and the huge panel of experts included Livia Brown, general manager at Posterscope; Eben Gewers, head of advertising sales and trade marketing at Arena Holdings; JD Engelbrecht, MD of Everlytic; Isla Prentis, intelligence lead at Tirisano Consulting, within The MediaShop; Merlin Naicker, group executive for television at the SABC; Michelle Randal, sales director at Christopher Africa; and Rivak Bunce, MD at United Stations.

Covid-19 arrived and OOH was hit quite hard with people being in lockdown. Brown started the conversation by looking at a silver lining on how OOH has relearnt and transformed “None of us could’ve seen the pandemic coming, but the benefits to the industry have been that the industry has stood up and reshaped itself. We’ve seen lots of changes bringing online and offline together and among this huge disruption, there’s been a lot of positive change within the industry.”

One could argue that many elements of human behaviour are going to change permanently. Sangweni asked Prentis if she has seen a change in people’s spending and consumption patterns because of Covid-19 and whether she thinks it has made it hard to determine the future of how brands should advertise and what platform to use.  She responded: “For me 2020 has taught us that we can’t predict the future. It apparently takes 21 days to form a new habit and that will inevitably change some consumers’ behaviour and buying patterns.” She said she believes that it’s not so much about what people are doing, it’s a reminder that we don’t know what everyone’s doing.

Finding commonalities between what brands offer and what consumers want can surely be achieved with personalisation and authenticity when interacting with the customer, but is that enough? Engelbrecht said: “The key is knowing what the relationship is between your customer wants and needs in relation to your business goals. Thereafter, it’s easy: put the right message up at the right time, leverage the most engaging channels and content options, and then use automation to follow it up with the next message.”

The digital space has been placed at the forefront of where we are now, which does give it a head start when advertising to customers, simply because the digital space provides more access to data and is more agile to react and respond quickly.  Randal said: “The challenges for media owners that are not a part of the natural three [Facebook, Twitter and Google] has been to show brands how to connect more meaningfully. Now more than ever, especially with budget constraints, there’s an opportunity for brands to look into other platforms that may be able to provide a more effective reach and relevant messaging, allowing them to break through the clutter.”

Focusing our attention on the television space, Naicker was asked whether he has seen an effect on in-home media consumption. He said his experience at the SABC has shown that in-home media has been affected; they have found that TV consumption has remained quite high. “We had some of our highest viewing audiences during lockdown, but we know that this is because consumers were forced to stay at home. Outside of this, the story that is more telling is that the consumer is no longer home-bound and is seeking content driven by their needs. It will start to settle at level 2 and media owners will need to pick up the pieces and attract their audiences again.”

Bunce said this is the most exciting time to be in radio because radio has managed to keep up with big digital changes. “Digital changes conspire in radio’s favour, pushing radio to thrive.” In his opinion, radio is finding new ways to leverage technology to spread its influences and grow audiences in different spaces.

Across the board, the pandemic has forced advertisers and brands to find new, innovative ways of reaching and building robust relationships with current and new audiences. So how has the print sector managed? With people saying “print is dying” and with the industry seeing an immediate drop in advertising spending, why is it still so attractive? Gewers said he thinks print is enduring for a variety of reasons in this “post-truth” world.  “Print has a lot of gravitas behind it. It’s still perceived as having a lot of truth behind it. There have obviously been natural declines in print sales, but I believe that in our current environment print is doing quite well simply because people want trusted information and good news with credible sources behind it.”

With all channels having positives and negatives associated with them, and some being elevated or completely flipped upside down by the pandemic, at the end of the day the multichannel topic is not a new conversation. Each media type has its own role. It’s about understanding what you are using the media type for. Don’t stick to one lane; use all channels in an innovative ways in order to bring the full brand experience to life. 

The next digitised event, The Role of Telco Tech in the Future of Media, will be taking place on  September 2 at 10am. For more information, or to register click here.

The big take-out:

Don’t stick to one lane; use all channels in an innovative ways in order to bring the full brand experience to life. 

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