New media is only as good as its message: Ad:tech

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At yesterday's Ad:tech Chicago keynote, Brad Jakeman, former EVP of marketing at Federated Department Stores (now Macy's), said that while he was a long-time supporter of ROI, the industry was too focused on channel tactics rather than unified ideas.

Jakeman spoke of “big idea marketing,” pointing out that if marketers drive for only predictable results, they will always run similar campaigns.

“The pendulum has swung over too far toward relying on tactics,” Jakeman said. “There's a burden on marketers to create communication that people seek out vs. screen out.”

Pointing to recent work from JetBlue and HBO, he noted that a big brand idea was media agnostic, reaching customers at every touchpoint with the same unified message.

This idea of consistency from marketers and the need to be everywhere that is relevant was repeated later in the day on a panel about social media and marketing conversations. On the panel were Jory Des Jardins, co-founder of BlogHer; Michael Moore, head of digital marketing at Nestlé; Jennifer Khoury, VP of corporate communications at Comcast; Rick Murray, president of Edelman Digital; and Richard Binhammer, senior manager of social media and blog outreach at Dell Inc. Each of these experts echoed the sentiment that marketing messages must integrate with consumer conversations online.

Binhammer likened today's digital world to a dinner party. “Brands aren't serving dinner anymore; we're just at the table trying to have a dinner conversation like everyone else,” he explained.

But the ideals of crafting an engaging message and reaching consumers on their terms is far from straightforward. Nestlé's Moore acknowledged his company's slow growth in the space saying, “Right now we only participate when we think the conversation has reached a critical mass. I'd like to get to see it evolve to a more participatory experience.”

Des Jardins had advice for those corporations that may not think they are ready to address product criticism cropping up online. “Acknowledgement is key. You may not have a response ready, but you can at least acknowledge what's being said and tell them you're working on it,” she said. “The first step is showing up to the table.”

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