Mad Men 2.0

Wikipedia now defines “direct marketing” as, “Direct marketing is a form of advertising which allows businesses and nonprofit organizations to communicate directly to customers through a variety of media including cell phone text messaging, email, websites, online adverts, database marketing, fliers, catalog distribution, promotional letters and targeted television, newspaper and magazine advertisements as well as outdoor advertising. Among practitioners, it is also known as direct response.”1  Wow!  That’s a lot to think about.  Why, one might ask, would the definition of direct marketing possibly include so many references to advertising?  Whoever wrote that Wiki has lost their mind, right?  Well, as it turns out, not exactly…

The New World of Big Data

The term “big data” can sometimes elicit a gentle sigh, sort of like talking about The Cloud.  Yes, it’s “big data” and the Interwebs again, making things more interesting and alas, more complex as we go about motivating buyers and donors everywhere.  As we browse the vast expanse of the public internet, we know marketers are hard at work creating and collecting all sorts of information about us and our behavior.  Our interests, buying preferences, demographics and profile information, location information, what kinds of devices we use, what time of day we’re interacting with which websites, and on and on.  It even reaches beyond the Internet to digitally enhanced products we use, electronic systems in our homes and the stores we shop in.  The days of the analog advertising model have vanished in favor of a digital approach with attribution and accountability as the focus.
In this new model, targeting someone purely on the basis of transactional activities occurring on the Internet is not even the best adtech can offer today.

Deeper Connections and Context Revisited

In a previous post I spoke about putting people and their interactions in context.  Big data that knows you.  A target personae extrapolated from online behavior is ok, but placing people in context with a richer information set is better.
As advertisers seek to “pre-identify demand” what they are really seeking is the ability to directly address a pre-qualified buyer or donor much in the way direct mail has been used for decades.  Their goal is to deliver a relevant message to a targeted audience, at a preferred time and location, on a preferred device.

Master Your Media

Does this mean marketing and advertising are really the same thing in this brave new digital world?  Not exactly, but like many things today they are converging, and the lines are becoming blurred.  The good news for professional marketers and advertisers alike is the skills they have developed in their respective crafts are still relevant, but need to be applied in new ways.  Service providers are increasingly mastering the nuances of this rapidly evolving and converging space as well, and are better equipped than ever to assist clients in media optimization, helping create contextual categories, content to serve them, and services to execute on a bold new strategy.  Master your media, and boldly go where no marketer (or advertiser) had dared to tread before!

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