Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to Advertising & New Media
The rise of convergence culture and new media has derailed traditional advertising as it is known and made way for a new wave of advertisers who are adapting and embracing new methods of production and audience interaction into their marketing strategies. Convergence cultures have led advertisers to have to find new ways in which they are able to effectively reach their audience. Advertisers have had to open communication channels between producers and consumers, with the line between the two becoming increasingly blurred. In order to effectively communicate with these new audiences, advertisers have to produce advertisements that will reach their desired audience; this is possible through personalization of marketing through websites such as Facebook and other mediums. These points will be backed up with the real world case studies to further show their existence in everyday life.
Traditionally advertising has been mostly informational, appealing to reason and addressing the idea that a product can fulfill human needs (Spurgoen, 2006) however in recent times of cultural and technological change this informational approach taken by advertisers has had to change. Advertisers now have to create increasingly creative ways in which they are able to reach their desired audience without being intrusive however still getting their point across. No longer is an advertising campaign successful solely through television commercials rather it has to have a multiplatform existence in which it can be viewed and interacted with on many levels. An example of this is the Best Job in the World Campaign, launched by Tourism Queensland (2009). This campaign was launched as a series of job advertisements all over the world which encouraged people to apply to be an ‘Island Caretaker’ at Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef. The winner was to gain a six month contract to live and blog about life on the Island. The following video shows the numerous platforms that the advertising took part in.
The campaign has clearly embraced new media and all that it has to offer. This is evident from the YouTube application process that has been used as a substitute for a traditional job application. This generated a phenomenal amount of media coverage for Tourism Queensland. This case study is a really clear example of how companies are embracing new media and the convergence of different media forms in order to successfully advertise and gain worldwide coverage.
The increasing demand and success of participatory culture has meant that advertisers have had to find a way to increase the communication between producer and consumer. Advertising is continuously moving away from a “show and tell” environment to that of increasing engagement thus advertisers have to adapt to new methods of work to embrace the new reality of interactive content (Sheenhan, 2009). Spurgoen (2006) discusses branded content as a method in which advertisers are doing just this. Branded content is a cross over of traditional advertising and entertainment and aims to combine the two successfully to both promote and entertain prospective and current consumers.
Branded content works successfully in combination with new media. Consumers are able to locate and share the content with their friends if they find it funny, entertaining or useful and are therefore participating in the advertising for the company as they share and further the message. One such example of this is of company Blendtec and their viral campaign Will it Blend? Blendtec launched a series of videos in 2007 to demonstrate the effectiveness of their blenders in blending anything from marbles to the iPhone 4, the YouTube channel still continues to be a success, with videos gaining millions of views. Below is an example of their most viewed video:
Blendtec encourages consumer participation by allowing them to suggest what should be blended next through their YouTube Channel or through their website, http://www.willitblend.com/. These videos were successful providing entertainment for YouTube audiences as well showing the efficiency and durability of their blenders. Blendtec sales have increased 700% (Briggs, 2009) since the launch of these first videos. There has been an increasingly blurred line between the producer and the consumer as it is the consumer telling Blendtec what they want to see in these videos. This is successful in establishing a fun advertising environment that encourages consumer participation.
Advertisers have seen the opportunity online to be able to personalize their advertisements so they aim to only reach willing recipients (Taylor and Neuborne, 2002), taking a target marketing approach to a new level. This is an increasing trend in online advertising evident through sites such as Facebook, which are able to look at a users activities whilst both using the site and the sites they visit from the page after to collect data on their interests and banner advertise specifically to that. Below shows an image of contrasting Facebook advertisements. On the left shows an 18 year old female and on the right a 19 year old male, both advertisements reflect the ‘likes’ from their accounts and other information that they have posted on Facebook. This is evident of how advertisers on Facebook are making sure that their products are reaching real prospective consumers.
Facebook is not the only website using this personalization approach. Some companies are keeping track of consumers spending patterns and product purchases and will send emails of offers that are only relevant to them (Taylor and Neuborne, 2002). Pop up adverts have even had this upgrade, whilst typically invasive and intrusive the advertisers are able to look at past websites the user has visited so they only receive advertisements that are relevant to them. In an era where consumers can easily avoid traditional advertising, companies have to find new ways to reach their consumers personally and effectively.
Advertisers are continuously striving to reach audiences through new and unique ways, embracing new and convergent media and all that it involves. Consumers are tired of traditional advertising so advertisers must engage audiences in creative mediums, embracing multiple platforms to reach the widest number of responders. Consumers have an increased ability and desire to participate in a companies advertising campaigns, by making the consumers feel involved with the company they are establishing a new level of loyalty. Advertising is now able to become more personalized and is able to take the target marketing approach to a whole new level. Over all, the phenomenon of digital media convergence and new media has had a large effect on the Advertising industry and its practices and has revolutionized the industry as it was known.
Blendtec (2012). Will it Blend? [Online]. Avaliable at: http://www.willitblend.com/ [Accessed 30 August 2012].
Blendtec (2012). Will it Blend? YouTube Site [Online]. Avaliable at: http://www.youtube.com/user/Blendtec [Accessed 30 August 2012].
Briggs, C. (2009) BlendTec – Will it blend? Viral Video Case Study [Online]. Avaliable at: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/nursing/sonet/rlos/studyskills/harvard/index.html [Accessed 30 August 2012].
Deuze, M. (2007). Convergence Culture in the Creative Industries. International Journal of Cultural Studies 10(2) pp. 243 – 263
Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: NY University Press
Prospect MX (2012) 15 of the Best Viral Marketing Campaigns [Online]. Available at: http://www.prospectmx.com/15-of-the-best-viral-marketing-campaigns/ [Accessed 30 August 2012].
Sheehan, K. and Morrison, D. (2008) Beyond convergence: Confluence culture and the role of the advertising agency in a changing world. First Monday 34(3-2). Available at: http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2239/2121
Spurgeon, Christina L. (2008) Advertising and New Media. New York: Routledge
Taylor, C. and Neuborne, E. (2002) Getting Personal. MediaWeek 12(40) pp. 101-105
Tourism Queensland. (2009) The Best Job in the World [Online]. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCLDMGWZFFA&feature=player_embedded [Accessed 30 August 2012].