Interactive Media – The New Golden Goose of Branding?

Interacting with your customers in today’s business world has become a must.
Does this sound like too much of a strong statement? Well, maybe “must” somehow overplays what is today’s reality, but it is indeed true, since all you hear marketers and advertisers talk about lately concerns interactive medias, how these are changing their panorama and how much are they gaining momentum.

In fact, a recent research conducted by WPP’s GroupM shows that interactive media’s share of worldwide advertising expenditures is likely to reach 15% in 2009, which would be double from four years ago 먹튀검증. And apparently, this will remain the main source of growth, as advertising spending in traditional media seems to be on the decline.

At Labbrand, we have looked at how interactive medias are changing not only the world of advertising, but also branding practices in general.

Our starting point for this article comes from the core of our own brand vision: the key to every successful brand is continuous innovation. Being on the forefront and differentiating yourself meaningfully once you’re there are the most important means brands have to satisfy market needs and ultimately gain customer loyalty.

Naturally, every well-conceived communication strategy needs to be well-balanced to achieve the brand’s different communication goals. As for increasing mass brand awareness, traditional media has been and still remains the better performing tool that a brand can use, especially in the short run.

However, when analyzing brand communication from a wider angle, it becomes clear that traditional tools are becoming obsolete. TV and radio commercials, web banners, sponsored links, magazine and newspapers ads, billboards…for decades people have been bombed with a multitude of promotional messages dictating what to buy, and how to do it. Well, now that there are the means to answer, people can and want to have their say on this!

Furthermore, and maybe even more importantly, as the market changes at an ever-increasing speed, it has become more and more difficult for marketers to spot and understand new trends in order to develop products & services relevant to their customers.

In this context, interactive medias give marketers a practical tool to:

1) Conduct interactive advertising campaigns: either by involving consumers in the creation of the ad or by creatively engaging them in the message through interactive medias.

2) Have consumers experience your brand outside purchase-like environments. Interactive medias give people the tools to try, play, and live your brand, which eventually can forge a closer bond between this and its potential or existing users.

3) Conduct research among groups of consumers that are gathered online, in communities, networking sites, groups and industry blogs, or that are linked together through interactive media devices.

4) Empower consumers with the means to co-create and co-develop new products and services.

These four issues are, we believe, the reason why interactive medias are taking, and will take even more into the future, such an important role for advertising and branding.

Companies and professionals have been talking about this for a decade or so already, but it is only in the recent few years that marketers have begun to conceive and launch interactive advertising campaigns. And apparently the initiative has been really successful, as more and more brands are now following pioneers’ example.

One of these examples goes back to 2004, when Converse launched one of the first interactive advertising initiatives to date: consumers were asked to create videos showing what the brand meant to them. The result – the Converse Gallery – is a collection of 24 second-videos, made entirely by customers, the best of whom were broadcast on the Converse website, as well as on cable networks. Getting consumers involved in the creation of ads promoted the brand image among target audiences. Also, videos developed by brand fans could quite intelligently address the real meaning of the brand in consumers’ minds, in a way likely more meaningfully than traditional promotional messages.

And what about the more recent Nokia project 95 in China? The brand launched a blog-supported N95 road show: Peter Schindler, an experienced traveler, has been called to do a one man road trip across the country and maintain a mobile blog of the whole experience. What a smart way to show and advertise the mobile capabilities and functionalities!

What is really important to note here is that even if brands want to ignore interactive medias, interactive medias are not likely to ignore them!

Online communities, networking sites, industry or users blogs…brand fans and consumers groups are well up and active. Moms talk to each other from one side of the world to the other about diaper brands (very often enabled by the brand itself i.e.: P&G’s research section), while sports fans get tuned in on the latest trends and models of their favorite brands through communities. Communities suggest, advise, judge, and complain about brands, creating buzz that can affect the brand both positively and negatively. And they do it regardless of brands themselves.

By ignoring them, brands can be swept up by the noise. However, by using them smartly, brands can participate and somehow lead the conversation inside the community. And if it is true that “buzz advertising” is not easily controllable, it is also true that it can spread virally and it can arouse immediate awareness about new products launches and brand messages in users’ circles.

And what can be said about initiatives in interactive brand experiences? These might not be called direct advertising, but they surely end up creating relatively more brand awareness among industry fans, while performing better than any ad in spurring customer loyalty.

Take Nike ID for instance. The sport brand website gives people the instruments to build on-line customized shoes which can then be bought to order. The attractiveness here is not really in selling customized shoes (even if triggering sales can never be discarded – and what is advertising about if not triggering sales?) but rather in letting customers play, experience, and live Nike, eventually feeling unique and irreplaceable.

Exemplary interactive brand experience campaigns in Asia can be found in the Adidas “The Rook” campaign. This ran throughout 2007 across China, South Korea, Hong Kong, and the Philippines and was based entirely on an interactive digital web platform that enabled users to “live” a rookie’s first season in the NBA. Web users were given access to exclusive footage and 3D video games designed to create a 360-degree experience of the games. Ultimate goal? Naturally, to bond Asian basketball fans to Adidas’ brand, but also to create buzz advertising, drive sales of the NBA related products and leverage the sponsorship agreements in the Asian region.

One of the unexpected joys of many people’s trips to the Big Island is their discovery of the rich and varied tapestry that history weaves around the Island of Hawaii. Hawaii is the only state in the union that has king’s palaces, temples to the gods of surfing and and architectural history that spans a millennium and a half. Many people don’t realize that the Kona Coast was an important region of major fishing villages, taro farms and religious centers for a millennium and a half. However, the Kona region rose to ascendancy as a religious and political center when King Umi founded his capital here in the 16th century.

In 1812, King Kamehameha established Kailua Kona as the Capital of his newly united Kingdom of Hawaii. For almost 400 years, temples and palaces around the Kona region served as a kind of “Rome of the Pacific”, one of the great political and cultural centers in Polynesia, until the capital of the Kingdom was moved to Honolulu in 1850 by Kamehameha III. Slipping into a sleepy, territorial back-water torpor, Kailua Town and the Kona District dozed gently through the decades of the plantation era and early statehood into modern times. Today, booming and exciting, this fast-paced area is the center of the Big Island’s financial and cultural reawakening in the new century. Just remember, when I describe the Kona District as a “booming and exciting…fast-paced area”, I mean “booming and exciting” in a very Hawaiian, mellow and relaxed way.

Some of the most important historical sites in all of Polynesia are right here in Kona—let’s take a quick tour of the Kealakekua Region of Kona, that portion which lies along the Hawaii Belt Road from Kainaliu south, turning at the junction with Highway 160 down to Napo’opo’o and into Honaunau. It was in this region the Kings of old ruled and dispensed justice; where the great explorer Captain James Cook spent time among the Hawaiians and ultimately lost his life; and where the two sustaining agricultural industries of ranching and coffee farming were born on Hawaii and flourish today.

Kainaliu Town

Napping gently on either side of Highway 11, Kainaliu Town is one of the principle commercial centers of Up Country Kona. Kainaliu grew up at the intersection of two donkey tracks that serviced the sugar, coffee and ranching industries, sometime after the construction of Lanakila Church in 1867. The star attraction in Kainaliu is, by far, the Aloha Theater and Aloha Angel Café. This historic and beautiful theater is still the center for stage productions of all kinds as well as cinematic shows; it is the centerpiece for the Kona Association for the Performing Arts (KAPA). Another of the town’s interesting attractions is the amazing Oshima Grocery and Dry Goods Store (“If we don’t have it, you don’t need it”). In addition the town boasts numerous other businesses, galleries, furniture, thrift, herbal medicine shops as well as several wonderful restaurants and coffee houses. Donkey Balls has a candy factory that offers fun tours and tasty samples and Captain Cook Coffee has a roasting house right in town that gives weekday tours. When the weather turns wet in West Hawai’i, or you need a relief from the heat on the beach, a day spent browsing and eating in cool, shady Kainaliu is a real treat.

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