Clash of the Titans? Blurring the Boundaries Of Traditional & Online Media

January 18, 2010

Watching the movie industry’s HFPA Golden Globe Awards over the weekend was a hit and miss affair, from the usual schmaltzy self-congratulation to real, heartfelt appreciation of talent. What particularly caught the attention here, however, was during the commercial break and how it relates to the blurring boundaries between traditional media marketing and its newer online sibling.

Tug_of_war

Is the media tug of war coming to an end?

It occurred during an advertisement for the new romantic comedy When In Rome. If you follow that link, you will probably be conscious of the fact that it takes you through to Facebook rather than a dedicated movie or organization site. It not only struck a chord, but raised a number of reflections as to the choices media and marketing teams are now faced with as the online social networks proliferate.

To step back a second, this was a prime time commercial for a Hollywood release, aired during a major movie awards ceremony and with just 30 expensive seconds to spare. The marketers made the choice to direct the millions viewing to a third party marketing space, as opposed to a site over which they have full control and design rights. For the time being, these control issues remain the foremost concern for many with a more traditional marketing mindset. Barriers that frequently relegate online social media to cast extras rather than the leading lights of marketing campaigns.

Avatar on Facebook

Avatar on Facebook - Over 950,000 fans & counting

Yet the lure of the 100 million plus Americans on Facebook and 18 million or so that frequent Twitter, not to mention the possibilities on YouTube and other platforms,  is increasingly compelling.  Especially when nearly 1 million of said Facebook users have felt strongly enough about box office record breaker Avatar to become a fan and interact with the flash community that has formed within its corner of that site. For those willing to spend time  and creativity putting social media at the core of their campaigns, the rewards seem to be limited only by the user base of their chosen platforms. And those bases continue to grow on a daily basis.

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CNN Tweets

CNN breaks news on Twitter....or vice versa?

Nor is this enthusiastic adoption of online social media by marketers limited to the movie industry. Increasingly, traditional media reporting on television and in print references sources on Twitter, often as the primary source for their story.

From trivial celebrity announcements to worldwide catastrophes like the tragic earthquake in Haiti, reporters not keeping a close eye on their web browser may well miss the opportunity to break a story. Or at least break it on their traditional platform after social media has done so online.

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In future posts we will examine this phenomenon in more detail across a variety of industries, particularly the beleaguered music business, for which online social media is rapidly becoming the channel to connect with and engage their customers. For the moment it is heartening to see savvy marketers embracing such platforms as a valued component of their overall marketing mix, blended with traditional television and print campaigns to grab the attention of a wider audience.

Have you noticed specific examples of traditional media engaging social network communities? If so, what were they and how effective would you judge them to be?

What are your thoughts on tried and trusted marketing practices when compared to the options presented by social networks and online media?

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