New Media and its Impact
By Michael Madore, University of Lethbridge
Have you or a friend created a blog? Do you have an account with MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, or another social website? If you don’t, you are behind the times. Technorati (an internet search engine which searches for blogs) has indicated that there are close to “113 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media on the internet.” These types of numbers can have great media impact and can do so quickly.
Large corporations are no longer the only media players in the market and no longer hold monopolies over what communication is presented to the consumer, cites Paul Gillian, author of The New Influencers. In order to be competitive with product and service offerings, large corporations are going to have to consider non-traditional advertising methods, which include blogs, webcasts, and electronic social media such as Facebook, as well as the traditional methods such as print, television, and radio.
What non traditional methods work best? It is hard to say, one must do their research and see what non-traditional media the target market would prefer then use those media to attract and communicate the organization’s message. New media need to be considered if an organization wants to remain competitive in this age of digital advertising. What worked in the past, may not work now or in the future.
Canadian and U.S. businesses are starting to see the influence new media can have on their public relations and ad campaigns. Take Tim Hortons for instance; the news of a Tim Horton’s employee being fired, in London Ontario, for giving away a Timbit to an 11-month old child flooded the Web via blogs and other Web-based media. Tim Hortons was criticized on these electronic forums for the way the manager handled the situation. Tim Hortons had to react fast when the story broke or end up with a devastating public relations nightmare (a simple search online still shows scars of the fiasco). Long-term resentment was avoided by rehiring the employee and issuing a public apology shortly after the incident occurred. This is an example of public relations viral marketing at its worst. It doesn’t always have to be this way though; the viral marketing ad Dove promoted on their website was an example of a positive campaign at work. This ad has been viewed over 12 million times around the world; it has been well received and highly publicized.
Why are these non-traditional media becoming so popular? It can be partially attributed to involving consumers in the promotional process. Grant McCracken, research affiliate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, believes that “if they (consumers) build it, they (consumers) will buy it.” Grant believes the popularity of such non-traditional mediums derives in part from letting consumers be involved in the ad process. Take the ad campaign web surfers were invited to participate in when Chevy offered its online audience a chance to make their own commercials for the Chevy Tahoe. Surfers created the ads then uploaded them for the entire web to review. The non-traditional promotion campaign used for the Chevy Tahoe shows that thinking outside the box can help stimulate demand and buzz for a product. The Chevy website enjoyed over 2.4 million page views with their “create your own Tahoe Ad” campaign, which had over 20,000 Tahoe ads submitted by consumers.
Due to the lack of legislation in cyberspace, new media are basically unregulated; there are no government departments or regulators that ensure content on the web is socially acceptable. Hence, there are times when content presented on the web may be somewhat questionable or even unethical. Take the advertisement for Axe Body Spray ( campaign titled “The Axe Vice Naughty to Nice Program”. Content in this ad isn’t suitable to all consumers (ages) yet it is accessible to anyone who can turn on a computer and locate this web advertisement. How does one censor this type of advertising? Marketers need to be held accountable for messages they provide on the Internet and to groups they offer products and services to the question boils down to: how to do this online?
So do businesses stop promoting their products and services through traditional mediums and use only the web to advertise? Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief at Wired Magazine, feels that would not necessarily be a good move. A factor in choice of medium still depends on the target market. Baby Boomers tend to use traditional mediums (newspaper, radio, and television) while Generation X and Y are more inclined to use non-traditional media methods, such as blogs, webcasts, podcasts, and social forums. To ensure proper media coverage, a variety of methods— traditional and non-traditional—need to be considered in advertising campaigns.
1. What new forms of media are available to marketers as a communications tool? Identify each form of new media and the demographic group(s) to which it appeals.
2. List the challenges and opportunities that these new media forms present to marketers.
3. What roles do traditional media such as TV, print, and radio play in this new media landscape? How does their role change among marketers with (1) large budgets, and (2) small budgets?
4. Many new forms of media are unregulated. What ethical issue does this present to marketers?