Had decided was not going to write anything about Web Clubs last and but-last because, being the moderator, I was not supposed to have an opinion but merely to make sure other people's opinions were heard.
However, I was rather disenchanted with the performance of people present so I spent some time to "simmer" what I had heard and come up with some ideas.
As you may know, WC last and but-last dealt with online + offline, integration and relevance. The major questions were "how do we integrate online in offline" and "is online truly relevant in the big picture of adv?"
Now there's two things that need to be said here:
1. What are some replies to the above questions?
2. How did the people questioned in the panels decide to tackle them?
1. For questions A and B, I think there are some obvious replies, namely:
- Internet is free, fast, intuitive and measurable: therefore it is poised to become one of the major purveyors of content of any kind (witness The Economist which reports that November 2008 was the first month in which more people said they got news from the Net than from any other source). This does not mean that TV will go away, nor radio, nor print, nor OOH. It simply means that, in the medium term, one has to include Internet among the key media to touch consumers and businesses alike.
Does online make a shitload of money in Romania right now? Obviously not, for obvious reasons: we screw up even the basics of online adv - banners, and then hate them, there is not enough inventory to support the money that could be poured into adv, even though we trumpet efficiency, the life span of online adv and online projects is usually to short to enable true measurements, and most importantly EVERYONE is still learning about it, so is skittish about puttin money into it. BUT, the most serious mistake we could ever make is to think online is not relevant because it is currently not making billions.Relevance in this case should be measured in affinitty and growth power and not in current earnings.
On integration, I feel that, measurements and processes aside, one thing needs to lead integration and that is brand. We do communication online, not because online is cool, not because we MUST do online but because brands are kept alive by touchpoint communication - namely communicating anywhere the brand touches the consumer - and as seen above now Internet is touching almost everyone and everywhere. So, integration should be based on two considerations:
- what does online do best in our category? - meaning does it sell, does it do WOM, does it brand
- what does our brand need online? - do we need sales, do we need feedback, do we need awareness, do we need R&D resources etc etc
With this in mind, we must also realize that Internet cannot do BEST all things for all brands. Please do not think you will do awareness with Internet for Coca-Cola. You will probably not do sales either because it is a mass brand, with huge volumes and Internet penetration is now under 15% for above 30yos which are the key targets for CC. So, when integrating one must think on how to, well, integrate - namely dicover which of the objectives are best served by which media and use that accordingly.
So now onto, number 2. How did the online world reply to these two simple questions?
My two cents: poorly. There is a widespread habit with the online world here, it seems, to beat itself up for being young and unprofessional. We brandish about words like "measurements", "research", "efficiency" but are unable to stand up to offline people when they come up with absurd statements like "all people do online is download movies and watch porn". Everyone was ashamed we have no research and everyone complained clients do not get it. We have online in Romania for over 8 years and still we complain that "nothing is being done". And therein is the classical Romanian problem, "nothing IS being done" - the impersonal, the non-committal. Even after the end of WC no one seemed to be willing to stick around to discuss what, if anything, we could do so that we might get our hands on some data and research to support our claims. Clients have been silly for over 8 years but nothing IS being done, we have no definite research or interest in finding out facts about our users but nothing IS being done.
And as for integration, we had one publisher, one media, one client and one agency. They all have projects. They all think it's okay for all to have projects. Nobody thinks about what this does to the brand and nobody is thinking of a clear-cut process to make sure everyting we do is brand centric. It's dog eat dog or, as some suggested, dog help dog and that's that.
to be continued
communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.