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Booz Allen Hamilton: Advertising reaches the digital age

United Arab Emirates: Sunday, April 15 - 2007 @ 16:00

These changes have never really begun to occur until now.

Many marketers have been left behind by this changing environment, but some have thrived. Super CMOs like Mary Minnick at Coca-Cola and Jim Stengel of Procter & Gamble have become architects of their companies’ growth agendas, taking into their portfolios such functions as innovation.

“In virtually all areas of the globe, including the Middle East, we are starting to see the impact new technologies can have on marketing,” said Karim Sabbagh, Vice President, Booz Allen Hamilton. “Marketing executives in this part of the world, as well as elsewhere are in danger of being left behind if they don’t evolve with the times. The technological revolution is occurring everywhere.”

New technologies are allowing marketing companies to tailor advertisements for the smallest of audiences. Technology now allows commercials to be individualised for audiences as small as a few neighbourhood blocks in size. Booz Allen Hamilton has found that winning marketers who utilise new technologies well can be defined by several notable characteristics:

• They shift spending and management attention to digital media, and use those media to more effectively influence consumer purchase behaviour.

• They develop formats to promote interaction with audiences, especially their most likely consumers.

• They create new research approaches and metrics that measure outcomes, not inputs.

• They combine “above-the-line” advertising (TV, radio, and print) and “below-the-line” marketing (promotions, sponsorships, events, public relations) in new two-way, integrated campaigns.

• They create their own branded entertainment assets and appeal to customers directly through them.

• “In-source” new skills and capabilities to achieve greater sales impact and other measurable results.

Advertising budgets aren’t increasing, but the amount allocated to on-line advertising is increasing dramatically. Marketing executives have to cope, or else. The on-line audience is so important, that to many marketing executives surveyed by Booz Allen Hamilton, the new “prime-time” audience is between 9am and 5pm, when most people are using computers.

Some marketing companies and executives are getting left behind, but the culprit behind their laggardness is not incompetence, but rather an ingrained culture in the companies they work for. Many companies simply do not see on-line advertising as a reasonable area to spend in.

Marketing executives are now being required to change their roles entirely, and become immersed in the world of their customers. Enormous volumes of data are needed to process what consumers want and how they want it. Many new metrics will, at least in the short term, be compiled by marketing companies in an effort to truly understand the group that they must advertise to.

What does the future hold for marketing executives and marketing companies? Booz Allen Hamilton predicts that leading media companies will in-source much stronger relationship marketing and experiential marketing capabilities to enable the targeted consumer dialogue and lead generation that marketers crave. The distinction between “above-the-line” and “below-the-line” marketing will continue to blur, and in general, the requirements for success in the marketplace will be more demanding and more complex.

Though the challenges are great, the rewards are considerable. At no other time has the potential been so great for smart players, whatever their size, to invent new rules for the game. At no other time have marketers and media companies possessed so many compelling platforms to entertain and engage the consumer.

“The tools that marketers have at their disposal are considerable; the key is finding capable individuals who know how to use those tools,” said Karim Sabbagh. “The importance of finding executives with these abilities cannot be underestimated. We are witnessing dramatic changes in technology and consumer culture. Companies will have to cope and evolve, or face extinction.”

The challenges are numerous, with both companies and executives challenged with the task of finding out whether they are capable of taking on a marketplace, that to put it mildly, is unpredictable. The coming months and years will truly be both a revolution in the approach of marketers to marketing, and a revelation as to which marketers are capable and incapable.

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Sunday, April 15- 2007 @ 16:00 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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