Marketers still shy with new media

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Consumers are spending a great deal of time online and are spending more and more time on user-generated media channels like blogs, video blogs, YouTube and social networking sites like MySpace.com and Facebook.com.

Since consumers are so attracted to this new media, one would assume that marketers are embracing user-generated channels. However, the 2007 "PRWeek/MS&L Marketing Management Survey" finds this is not the case at all. In fact, only 7.9 percent of the 279 marketers surveyed say user-generated media is a very important part of their marketing mix.

"Marketing execs are thinking about the impact of digital because they want to be thought of as innovative and because they hear the footsteps of the likes of YouTube and Google, which have gained strength because of their ability to facilitate and organize consumer-generated media," said Mark Hass, CEO of MS&L. "But these execs still think of new media in traditional ways."

When asked why their company was not adding user-generated content to their marketing mix, 31.5 percent of respondents said there is no clear return on investment and 6.1 percent said they don't want consumers that close to the business. Almost one-third gave other reasons, such as "Management doesn't embrace it yet," "[We] simply haven't given it enough priority to consider at this point," "[We're an] old company with old ideas" and "[We've had] difficulty in getting the establishment to understand it."

"Despite the increased awareness of the power of consumers in a digital age on brands and sales, marketing execs are still control freaks, unwilling to give up control to these empowered consumers," Mr. Hass said. "They allocate small, if any, budgets to CGM, and basically address this trend by using Web sites to get consumer feedback. CGM is still regarded as an alternative add-on rather than a core pursuit."

There is a demonstrable desire among respondents to get into this new media, with 35.8 percent of respondents stating they would like to be more innovative to get ahead of their competition.

So what's keeping marketers from diving right into this media channel?

The answer is simple. Money and a lack of clear ROI.

Funding seems to be the top reason as 30.5 percent of those surveyed said their company does not allocate money from its budget to this marketing vehicle. In addition, 43.7 percent say there was no change to the amount allocated for new media in the last year.

Nearly 50 percent of respondents allocate 10 percent or less of their company's marketing budget on new media and user-generated media. However, it depends on a company's industry and marketing goals.

"There are two types of brands that need to be more heavily engaged with new media and user-generated media: those that have emotional involvement in people's lives and those involved in social matters," Mr. Hass said. "The more emotional the issues the brand is involved with, the more important it is for it to be engaged in this space."

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