Delivering the message via every possible channel

Faced by fragmentation, media owners need to provide more than one platform in order to ensure advertising messages reach consumers, says Simon Lynds

For too many years, media owners have failed to regard their properties as brands. Unless they understand their own brand values, how can they provide a truly effective brand communications platform for their clients?

The phrase “brand architecture” sounds like just another piece of marketing jargon, but it isn’t. It is the reason why some specialist television channels are closer to their consumers than others.

Underlying brand architecture, there are two simple truths, which we are all familiar with. First, there is already too much fragmentation for a client to be able to rely on any single media platform to get its message across effectively. Second, media brands have come of age. Partly via satellite technology, specialist channels have started to build strong brand identities that are capable of commanding serious audience loyalty. What is important is that this loyalty can be extended beyond TV.

The challenge is to understand the consumer’s life, to track their movements, needs, moods and media consumption, as they change over days, weeks, and, ultimately, throughout life. Brand architecture should develop platforms that reflect these components, and communicate at different levels and in different environments.

From the starting point of the small screen, we at Channel Health developed a second TV “channel” in health centres and surgeries. It offers the advertiser a second, valuable opportunity to target their customers closer to the point of purchase.

Creating a linked website is nothing new, but it does enable the media owner to build a substantial community that is not watching TV, but is in another location, such as a shopping centre. Launching a monthly magazine completes the obvious brand architecture. Radio presents the final hurdle.

Closed circuit “TV” shown on private premises is exempt from the tight Independent Television Commission’s rules. The Internet and magazines offer other opportunities.

Each of us wants to dominate our own segment of the market – client or media owner. As digital broadcasting becomes the norm, there will be a rash of specialist TV brands attempting to emerge from the cocoon of good marketing thinking. The victors will be those that have the right brand architecture in place, and invest long term.

Direct sales created via the red button on digital interactive TV present a huge opportunity to link advertising and sales processes. Because each shares the same editorial approach, they can present unique coverage for the advertiser. You are, quite literally, covering all the media bases.

This, I believe, is a sound media model for the future as each cross-promotes the other. The day is fast coming when the entire process of marketing, from raising awareness to customer acquisition to sales transactions, can be completed under a single brand umbrella.

Simon Lynds is chairman of Channel Health

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