The Convergence of Product and Marketing
I just put down Advertising Age's issue on the Digital A-List. If this issue is any barometer of how digital marketing is evolving, the lines between technology, entertainment and business goals are continuing to rapidly blur. Profiling the year's best interactive creative work and the people who make it happen, it is this convergence that is defining the digital future:
"Our belief is that marketing and product have converged. The consumer doesn't separate the marketing experience from the product experience."
Rather than merely relying on clever creative work, brands are blending form and function to create branded utilities that effectively utilize social media to create community and brand loyalty. As one agency executive said, "The new 'viral' is going to be a business solution for clients." This whole new approach means that brands and agencies need to begin developing a marketing-as-service strategy:
In other words, marketers can build websites that do cool, useful stuff...examples include Johnson & Johnson and its BabyCenter, a deep repository of information about raising a newborn that's a clear competitor to Bonnier or Meredith, the publishers of Parenting and Parents magazines respectively. Nike Plus, whose sharp interface connects runners all over the world, is a real threat to any traditional media owners who wants to engage with that running population.
It's time for marketing agencies and the companies they represent to think different. Perhaps something a bit more radical like Jakob Nielsen's perspective:
"The basic point about the web is that it is not an advertising medium. The web is not a selling medium; it is a buying medium. It is user-controlled, so the user controls, the user experiences."
This represents a powerful shift for brands and agencies. Those that tackle this change with creativity and a marketing-as-service strategy that engages their audiences through useful and functional online experiences will be the ones that define success in this convergence of product and marketing.