Splintering of the Consumer Market
Before the 2010 Super Bowl, what was the most watched television show? Surprisingly, it was the final episode of "M-A-S-H." The record stood for over 25 years, even with a growing population. In 1983 there were essentially three networks, so the television audience didn’t have many choices. This was a marketer’s dream. Not only could you reach a massive audience, but you could count on these significant shared experiences as common points of reference.
Marketers face a very different environment today with the proliferation of media channels, the internet, user-generated content and so on. The mass entertainment media market has been continually segmented into finer interest, demographic and lifestyle groups. This segmentation creates new opportunities in target marketing, but it also creates many challenges.
The most obvious opportunity is to be able to target products and marketing messaging to very refined segments. Whether it’s automobiles, music, apparel or consumer electronics, there are products that fit every lifestyle and interest segment. Marketers can dramatically improve conversion rates and advertising effectiveness by targeting their products through these splintered consumer markets.
On the other hand, the challenge is fewer shared experiences. Individuals are ordering custom content and experiences that appeal to their unique tastes. In most households, mom, dad, sister and brother are all attentive to their own smartphones, tablets, televisions and MP3 players. In this splintered environment, marketers have a harder time appealing to shared experiences and frames of reference understood by the mass audience.
Reaching the Splintered Consumer
The new environment favors a direct marketing approach to online advertising rather than a more traditional branding and awareness approach. Sophisticated marketers are using several different strategies to not only maintain advertising effectiveness, but to actually improve it.
The most fundamental direct marketing principle at play here is to go where your customers are. In a splintered media world, that means contextual targeting, behavioral targeting, social media targeting and mobile marketing.