“Great stories can come from anywhere and they can travel everywhere, as long as we use technology to get the right story for the right person and make that a great experience”. Greg Peters, Chief Product Officer of Netflix, used this sentence a few weeks ago to close his lecture at the Web Summit in Lisbon. The vision: to make Netflix the place in the media landscape with the world’s best formats, the best user experience and the best opportunities for producers to tell their stories.

At the moment, however, Netflix is just one provider among many and the likelihood of a single medium ever fulfilling the function of ‘main medium’ again, i.e. becoming the symbolic campfire around which the nation – or even the whole world, in the era of globalisation – sits, seems unrealistic. Nonetheless, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube represent a fundamental shift in media use that has taken place over the past ten years: the age of mass media is coming to an end.

My grandma is never going to get up to speed with Netflix. But what about my parents?

My grandma likes to watch television. However, she turns 100 in February and, before the internet even came along in the 90s, she wasn’t that interested in the entertainment innovation that was the video cassette – there was always television.

It’s a different story with my parents who, both in their mid-60s, are regular users of Amazon Prime Video, even if conventional television still accounts for the majority of both their media usage. There are still lots of regular viewers of traditional TV in all age groups, but the number decreases with age and consumption becomes less frequent.

However, television is still just one medium among many and the big winner is the consumer, as the choice of fantastic formats available on all kinds of media is wider than ever before. Alongside the major media brands, the internet has also given thousands of micromedia and content producers tools and platforms to tell their stories. Whether it’s on YouTube, Twitch, Instagram TV or as a podcast on Soundcloud, however niche the topic – practically all of them can be used any time and anywhere.

Mastering the complexity: fragmentation as an opportunity for agencies

From a marketing perspective, fragmented consumer use of media means that there are now an unmanageable number of touchpoints in the consumer journey. This development has been exacerbated by the long-standing trend towards maximum personalisation of consumers’ life plans, with high demand for products and services that are personally relevant. “One size fits all” has long been a thing of the past.

The complexity of marketing has now reached levels that are no longer manageable without experts at every interface – from strategy to technical implementation – with pressure to be efficient at every stage. On the other hand, the modern marketer has an enormous toolbox of touchpoints and technical solutions to reach every target group with exactly the right message at the right time. AI-assisted differentiation of budgets and channels and programmatic modulation across all media channels enable this. Nonetheless, there are still potential hiccups along the way – a lack of comparable metrics across channels and platforms, greater regulation of the data collection required for precisely tailored delivery and the rules set by major platforms for their ‘walled gardens’ are all issues that agencies will need to wrestle with for a long time to come.

Marketers navigating the touchpoint jungle: stay calm, try out ideas, learn.

Even if it isn’t easy to be an agency in the highly fragmented and complex world of marketing, in all honesty you wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the customers who account for the marketing. The Board supports flagship projects for the brand image, Sales wants to sell, the CRM team needs leads and Product Management services the trend towards consumer customisation with a stream of new line extensions to be offered to the public. And all these requirements have to be met, ideally at the same time and for less money. Then, the long-standing, tried-and-tested measures start to lose their efficiency; whether it’s target audience penetration, short-term available reach or advertising impact – nowadays it’s difficult to work with one medium alone.

Nonetheless, we can only recommend not letting it drive you crazy. You don’t need to start exploiting every new touchpoint straight away and stop using the tried-and-tested methods overnight. Instead, you should plan and optimise across multiple channels, seek to maximise impact and make best use of the strongest channels. Quantify success with the handful of KPIs that are truly important rather than getting lost in thousands of metrics. ROI and contribution instead of last click and cost per order. Start from the beginning of the customer’s journey and invest in awareness and image, instead of skimming the surface. And, last but not least, view the user’s interest as a rare commodity. In future, major brands will emerge as the sum of several small, tailored measures.

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