Media has evolved from being a mechanism of relaying information to a vessel hosting conversations. It has shifted from channelling discussions in various mediums, with separate audiences, to creating a unique converged ‘universe’, says Riona Naidu. This broader space allows consumers to interact and engage not only with the information provider at hand, but with each other.
The power that lies in harvesting these consumer thoughts, opinions and actions in this complex universe is, at times, beyond comprehension because harvesting this data has never been straight forward. Not too long ago, when media was a static medium with one-way communication many considered this limiting. Today, in a time when television channels have their own magazines and consumer brands have their own TV shows, each with a feed from social media, harvesting information is as multifaceted as communication is multidimensional.
Having worked on consumer related projects at Knowledge Factory over the last few years, it’s become apparent that strategic focus on collecting ‘valuable’ consumer data, which allows for a brand’s understanding of peoples’ wants and actions, is consistently on the increase. The focus is to move away from just collecting dead noise but rather create a hub that sanctions actions and where success can be measured. Hence, the birth of harvesting touchpoint data.
Harvesting is twofold and is based heavily on the following elements:
- Asking the appropriate questions,
- Having the necessary strategies in place to ‘listen’ to the answers.
It’s quite simple really; the guiding light that drives this is intention. What do we intend to create, mould, action? Once we understand what the expected outcome is meant to be, we then start ‘listening’ to the consumer universe to find the drivers of this action.
Media has always had the power to start the ripple that creates the wave. Harnessing the power of the wave is the space that we find ourselves sitting in today. Running consumer analytics across various media types in the last year has become an exciting and fruitful place to be and has not gone unnoticed. Non media brands are learning very quickly about the value that media plays in their day to day. This goes beyond utilising it as traditional advertising tools and progressed to content creation and consumer understanding.
In this media rich era, there are enough platforms available for collecting this two-way communication with consumers, the challenge is to consistently ensure that what we absorb from the conversations are valuable insights and not a hazy blur.
Radio, for example, has in recent years managed to do this quite successfully. They have managed to get a glimpse into what people are thinking through various mechanisms and can tweak their shows accordingly, almost instantaneously.
In all honesty, consumers are talking to us all the time through various platforms. They are also talking to each other all the time and it’s these observed behaviours and subtle nuances that can prove ground-breaking for brands. This is why, in my view, media convergence has become a buzz phrase.
If we capitalise all the media platforms that we use to communicate with customers in unison, as opposed to isolated universes, then we have developed a powerful tool. Brands can, and some do, use media as holistic medium in effort to listen to these touch points and how they interact with each other.
It is my belief that brands need to define what they’re looking for the answers to, and then interrogate all platforms that they’re using to communicate with their customer in order understand if they are getting anything back that answers those questions. Once you understand what you want to collect make sure the relevant questions are being asked on those platforms and then ensure the technologies that you have in place to read that information can pick up those market sentiments and nuances.
A converged universe really helps amplify this conversation with an audience. It can be likened to an orchestra starting up a beautiful piece of music. It starts by creating a little buzz in the market and slowly as more instruments, or in this case media channels, are added it builds up to a harmonious crescendo.
Media role players have always understood the value of convergence thoroughly, which is why so many media houses have diversified their product offering. However, one of the most common limitations in creating a converged offering sits on the clients end at times. Moving from a traditional understanding of media usage, which in many instances, is in silos, towards a holistic one may seem a bitter pill to swallow. As such, changing the consumer view may take longer in some cases.
And so, our role within media is to help drive the education process along. The difficulty is that the industry needs to create a precedent in order to be able to show the value of one holistic medium and the touchpoints that come with this.
So the question really is: are you willing to sit with the short-term discomfort of this shift towards using media as a holistic universe in order to listen to what’s being shared? The value, in my view, promises to be almost as infinite as the universe itself.
Riona Naidu is head of Consulting Services and Marketing at Knowledge Factory, a division of Kagiso Media.
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