The quest for an omnichannel ad strategy is about the evolution of storytelling. The latest buzzword taking root among the digerati is nothing more than a cry for direction in how to frame, parse, and deliver a brand’s story to the audiences most likely to embrace it.
The search for a new storytelling paradigm is part of the evolution of advertising from an awareness medium to an engagement medium. As channels and devices proliferate and classic brand loyalty ebbs, it’s harder and harder to find, reach, motivate, and persuade people. Add mobility and the functionality to connect and share in real time across geographies and you find your target audience infinitely more elusive.
People don’t think or act in a straight line. They use a variety of media and devices in millions of idiosyncratic ways to learn about brands and make purchases. The sequence of actions and the cumulative effects or the reinforcing factors of messaging are logical to assume but impossible to measure accurately. We know our customers use these channels and seek out an array of media. We’re not sure how or when to engage them emotionally, intellectually, or cost effectively with our product or brand story, though we suspect there is a sequence or a formula to achieve optimum attention, consideration, and preference.
This suspicion is driving the search for an omnichannel strategy that can be measured and proven to work. Generally, organic and paid search form the baseline for most communications campaigns. Like musical baselines, they define the terms and establish a rhythm mirroring the first expression of attention or interest by consumers. But search might be the only consensus vehicle.
Two principal creative approaches seem to be in perennial test.
One Voice. Put the same message everywhere. This surround-sound or matching-luggage strategy is classic for new product or service introductions or to hammer home a new or improved selling point. It gives brands a way to generate significant reach, frequency, and memorability quickly and to engage customers and prospects with a one-size-fits-all message. It trades awareness for nuances and segments, but can give a brand significant attention for as long as the campaign is sustained.
Parse the Messages. Make assumptions about the role and relative persuasive impact of each channel and device and craft creative content so that the sum of the parts is equal to or greater than the whole. Put your heavy product description on the website and bring it to life or animate it on YouTube. Drive traffic with related messages in search, display, and email. Bolster the concept; solicit consumer reaction, input, and reviews; and expose the backstory on social and mobile media and assume that customers and prospects will use some combination of channels to get the key ideas in your campaign. Put features and benefits in some channels and offers or incentives in others. Link the pieces and parts as best as you can and hope for and measure the result.
The proliferation of channels and devices, 24/7/365 communications, and usage patterns by segment that are equally hard to identify, predict, monitor, and measure demand creative testing to get to an optimal omnichannel strategy.
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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