Rich Media Should Be More Than a Prettyfest

Posted by Mercedes Romana on November 19th, 2012 at 11:59 am

So many experts are predicting dramatic growth in rich media spending over the next several years.  Forrester, to name just one, predicts almost 150% growth over the next four years.

And for good reason. As branding dollars rapidly shift to online media, it’s critical that brands find creative tableau that can deliver powerful and memorable experiences.

But rich media needs to be about more than pretty. As marketers race to align their plans to data-driven strategies and tactics, we need to ensure that our rich media efforts are part of that future. I call data-centric rich media Smart Rich, as distinct from Dumb Rich, where creative technique must carry all of branding water in an execution.

Smart Rich is about using user data to deliver tailored experiences. About pushing the envelope of dynamic creative to encompass every aspect of what will be persuasive to a customer. And about using first- and where necessary third-party data to give greater purpose to the engagement made possible with rich media technology.

To do this right you need to combine, clean, and make available all of your cross channel data for user insights. Then to create integrated teams of analysts, creatives, media experts, and rich media providers to carefully craft executions that can leverage all aspects of a user profile. If ever there were a situation where cross functional collaboration was essential, rich media is it.

The flip side of Smart Rich is that technology makes it possible for rich media to collect as well as use data. Not just impressions, time spent and clicks. I’m talking about using rich media interactivity to elicit user information that would be difficult or impossible to gather in any other way.

As we explore opportunities for clients in 2013, we should take a long, hard look at both the data available to strengthen our rich media executions and the persistent information gaps that prevent brands from having a truly 360 view of a user.

I can foresee executions where we learn just how “in market” a customer really is. Or about someone’s personal style so that we can tailor future marketing efforts in that direction. Or about the genuine depth of personal relationships.

One of the biggest opportunities, in my view, will be for CPG. Packaged goods marketing lives sleeps eats and breathes psychographics and brand personality. Think about Axe, Dove, Herbal Essences, Oscar Mayer, and Campbell Soup. There’s a lot more to these brands than efficacy or a nutritional profile. They’re at least as much about how they make you feel as they are the functions they serve.

So CPG is emotion driven. Whereas so much digital marketing user data is straight up rational. With rich media we can ask people how they feel, or collect insights based upon opt-in rich media activities that reveal what people feel and like.

Digital media have got the science of the mind more or less nailed. Data-informed rich media – Smart Rich - is the key to putting digital in service of understanding our hearts. Beautiful execution makes that possible. But the rich media of the future needs to be about beautiful execution and a whole lot more.


photo credit: garland cannon

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