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Laura Davis-Taylor responds to digital media network article

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I recently had a nice exchange with Laura Davis-Taylor (of Retail Media Consulting), one of the writers of an article I mentioned in last week's discussion about retail digital media networks.  In that blog article I talked about the growing trend towards digital signage deployments in retail venues, as well as some drivers for growth in the space during 2006.  If you haven't seen a copy of the retail networks article (co-authored by Davis-Taylor and Bill Collins), you can either log on to the In-Store Marketing Institute's site here (if you're a member), or else, email Bill Collins directly.  I found Laura's comments to be quite useful, and felt it would be helpful to share them here (with her permission, of course).  This also saves me from having to type out another long article myself, and for that I'm also thankful :)

 The focus of our discussion was on this paragraph from the original article:
"[I]t's important for retailers to remember that satellite radio, digital video recorders (such as TiVo) and blockers for online advertising are increasingly eroding the value of garden-variety media advertising. This trend is likely to accelerate as young people who are accustomed to media interactivity - and to tuning out marketing messages - enter middle age.

In the not-too-distant future, traditional one-way electronic media that is laced with advertising (broadcast and cable TV, along with commercial radio) will decline in significance, leaving the bricks-and-mortar retail store as the only place (or medium) that is guaranteed to reach consumers."
In last week's blog, I suggested that:
[I]t's a bit unrealistic to think that cable, satellite and broadcast TV providers are just going to roll over and die any time in the near future. As much as I'm enjoying the rise of digital signage and other in-store media, it's pretty clear that video-on-demand, interactive (two-way) cable, and the ever-looming specter of a Google-powered TV advertising system will keep in-home advertising relevant for a long time to come.
Then I received this e-mail from Laura, clarifying a few things:

The main point I want to make is that we did not say that we thought traditional venues are going to roll over and die. We called out that traditional, one-way media is going to decline in significance.

Traditional, one-way broadcast has already declined in significance. It continues to do so. I make a healthy living because of this and the Agencies are panicked about it. They know that they can reach people via cable, satellite and broadcast TV, but they don't know if the audience actually watched the message and they certainly don't know if the message had any significant recognition. It's one thing to see a message; it's another to deliver one with relevance and impact. As Donny Deutsch says about the future of advertising, "The fundamentals stay the same: great ideas sell. The media mix simply gets more fragmented."

Net-net is that the store is an increasingly valuable part of the media mix. But, it's not planned as part of the media mix right now! The potential can be negative or positive...it depends on how it's executed. But, its ability to provide Recency and move an audience to immediate action is huge. And, one can not doubt that the ability to be seen is as well.

Our challenge with RDS and (every other media vehicle) is to become "outside-in" -- deliver the right message to the right customers in the right media at the right time. If they don't want to see the message, they aren't going to recognize it...therefore no action. If they don't want to see the message, they will also find a way to block it out. As my friend David Polinchock
[of Brand Experience Lab fame] says, "history has proven that captive audiences revolt."  He's right, and we're seeing that more than ever. We don't want RDS to be another way to "capture" people, we want it to another way to use media to add value to people's lives. Then we all win!

I think this is a very astute set of observations, and an accurate conclusion.  As I mentioned to Laura afterwards, the one-way nature of traditional media allows them to be virtually anywhere (without regard for things like Internet access or display mounting), but also limits the possibility of following a direct feedback loop from viewing to action. TV and print ads are losing significance, especially in comparison to interactive Internet ads or more timely and salient in-store ads.    Enabling traditional media with some type of back channel communication will certainly improve their relevance and viability (easier said than done with print, until we have cheap, flexible disposable screens that can replace paper), but at the point where motion, interactivity and two-way communication come into play, we're really talking about a new medium altogether.  In fact, the media channels that emerge may look a lot more like the displays being pioneered in retail venues today, with dynamic, targeted ads being delivered to consumers in locations far beyond the retail floor.


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