Warning: this is a long one, but I think a good one.
Take a minute and think about how brands are activating in new media. They are placing banners, building microsites, building mini-microsites in the form of widgets, they are placing pre roll, post roll and interstitials. The "savvy" brands are having conversations. This seems to be as far as we've gotten. This is sad. Putting traditional media practices into a new media environment is the equivalent of placing a print ad on the television. You may be communicating a message, but you're missing out on the essence of the platform! So why are we stuck in this innovation rut?
Because our industry is overwhelmed. Our current industry structure is not suited to holistic new media activation. In the interest of efficiency we all to often go after "the lowest hanging fruit". Rather than thinking about new media solutions for everything they can be, we're looking at everything we already have in the can (be it assets, messaging or marketing know-how) and porting it over into the new digital realm.
It has been a long time since I saw anything truly new in media. Call it a rut, call it a slump, call it maturation, but there really isn't all that much blowing my mind lately. Crayon did some cool stuff in Second Life, but I feel like this was just a first step in next gen social activation. I'm hungry for more.
Digital Media is revolutionizing the way we interact, they way we humanize, the way we live. Marketing is changing. But I'm still waiting for the next innovation, the next messaging oriented communicative step the ad world will take. I'm not talking about embedding interactivity or clickability in video, I'm talking about a fundamental change that rips through the entire marketing engine at major corporations. I'm talking about an overhaul of everything, from the content delivery to the end user experience. I'm talking about FREE ad supported itunes AND NBC content streaming directly to my television. I'm talking about an end to the fluff that is buzzwords and a shift towards substance.
I've had enough of hearing about streaming HD when we really mean streaming in HQ (because our computer screens aren't HD!). I'm talking about a Zune 2 dock that allows me to sync my Zune2 with my DVR AND use the wireless connectivity in the Zune to stream internet content to my TV - all brought to you as an add on by a brand (Microsoft, are you reading this?). I'm talking about holistic solutions that work. I'm talking about ads that target users by cross-pltform behavior, not by an invading of private user interactions and conversations.
Traditional media is going to take a dive in 2009. When the spike of the Olympics and the Presidential Race are over, there will be enormous amounts of ad revenue available for digital media. The time to begin building out a holistic digital solution is now. It's time to stop thinking about interrupting and start thinking about living. It's time to stop selling and start delivering. It's time to take everything we know about sociology, psychology, ethnography, user behavior, marketing, advertising, messaging, creativity, business development, research, analytics, reporting and experience design, and build out solutions that work.
New Media isn't about eyeballs, it isn't about impressions, it's about meaning. Seth Godin always says that he doesn't want sponsors, he wants attention. He drives attention by delivering value that WE need. If you build out a solid consumer solution, the creative monetization solution should eventually follow.
There is so much that we can do as an industry.
Let's stop activating against yesterday's users and starting thinking about what we can do tomorrow.