Handbook for the media revolution

So I came home from work the other day, and there it was. I kind of knew it would happen sooner or later, but when you actually lay eyes on it, it's still a bit of a shock.
I've seen advertising on the little blue plastic mats in urinals, looped videos running on cubicle wall monitors and I've read about Zig's bathroom makeovers for the W Channel, so obviously it was just a matter of time before advertising popped up in the can at home.

So I came home from work the other day, and there it was. I kind of knew it would happen sooner or later, but when you actually lay eyes on it, it’s still a bit of a shock.

I’ve seen advertising on the little blue plastic mats in urinals, looped videos running on cubicle wall monitors and I’ve read about Zig’s bathroom makeovers for the W Channel, so obviously it was just a matter of time before advertising popped up in the can at home.

Thanks to the unknowing assistance of my partner, who had only thought to put a practical sidewalk giveaway to work – a little green air freshener was dangling innocently from the flusher telling me to go visit getfresh.com (a new promotional Web site for Telus Mobility that launches today, as it happens).

There was advertising on my toilet.

And that’s when it hit me. Advertising creative is fun, but as a discipline, there’s not a lot of forward movement there. Strategy on the client side is exceptionally interesting, but new philosophies come and go, and I’d be hard pressed to say that the field is advancing in leaps and bounds.

Media, on the other hand, is in the midst of a revolution. Thanks to Borg-like media congloms, a bazillion new TV channels, the advent of digital radio, out-of-home ads appearing on every surface from escalator handrails to airplanes (to toilets) – and of course, that staid old standby, the Internet – media is moving at a million miles a minute. Heck, it’s moving so fast that even Canada’s top media pros can find themselves overwhelmed by the whirlwind of change.

So we at Strategy have decided to help out.

On Sept. 23 we’re launching a new monthly publication, one that’s devoted to helping marketers and media executives understand and navigate today’s media options. It’s called Media. (Period.)

It will cover everything from measuring media effectiveness, to trends in media pricing, to how consumers interact with media. It will offer up the big picture for those who don’t work directly in the field – but still need to understand it – and it will delve deeper into areas where media pros need to delve deep. It will help to decipher one of the most complex and important sectors in the marketing field for all of our readers.

And, say the media folks I’ve spoken to, it’s about time.

Media planning is no longer just an afterthought, in a lot of cases it’s the media team that’s running the show. Just look at some of the more innovative campaigns we’ve seen recently: M2 Universal’s RBC Group and Cadillac converged media campaigns were planned and executed with nary a creative in sight.

Even in more traditional campaigns, the important brand positioning work is often done hand-in-hand with media professionals who understand the target consumers better than their own children.

And while creative execution still makes or breaks a campaign, marketers are beginning to appreciate the fact that new options, techniques and measurement tools have made the media realm a lot more complicated than it used to be. If they don’t understand Canada’s evolving media playing field and how to use it, they might as well write their messages right on their marketing dollars, fold them into little paper airplanes and launch them out over the traffic inching along Bloor Street below. (Which on second thought, might not be such a bad idea.)

Apart from anything else, it’s a good time to launch a new media publication because there’s just so much cool stuff going on in the field, thanks to a surge of media inventiveness.

In Denmark, media marketing agency Nymedie is selling ads on prams. In New York, U.S.-based Sub Media is offering a subway tunnel ad system consisting of a series of large format backlit transparencies that flash on and off as trains pass by to create an animated flipbook effect. Somewhere, no doubt, marketers are still furrowing their brows trying to figure out how to project ads on the moon. Such an endeavour may indeed turn out to be easier than finding a blockbuster sitcom to replace Friends as a vehicle for reaching 18- to 34-year-olds.

Marketers realize that inundated consumers must want to come to you or you’ll never get through, and that means that research, planning, advising and consumer-centric thinking are usurping buying as the new heart of a modern media agency. Media will be there to guide our readers through the change.

As a marketing discipline, media is now in the front seat, grabbing at the steering wheel – so it promises to be quite a ride. If you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see in our new pub, please give me a call.

Duncan Hood

Associate Editor

416-408-2300 ext. 252