As more consumers switch to smart phones, emerging channels are gaining importance in a marketing space that SEO has dominated. For years, brands have used SEO strategy to market their products, but it has become harder to find as an increasing number of search results are returning unrelated content. Also, according to one entrepreneur, in 2013 organic search results made up only 13 percent of screen space. The rest of the screen was dominated by “ads and junk.”
Problems with SEO-lead strategy are only magnified as more consumers view content on mobile devices. For instance, vertical and native search on mobile is continually threatening traditional search. Google’s traditional search traffic had declined 3 percent by the end of 2012.
Emerging Channels Explained
Advertisers are turning to emerging channels for help. These are marketing pipelines that lack established ad exchanges or ad units but hold massive audiences. They include social networks and sites beyond Twitter and Facebook such as Quora, StumbleUpon and Tumblr.
With a strong emphasis on data, advertisers such as Unilever, Rhino Linings, and others are testing out emerging channels too. These methods are especially strong in the mobile ecosystem. Native applications such as Pinterest, Instagram, Pheed, and Vine are designed to encourage organic sharing — even relevant brand content targeting specific age ranges and demographics.
The need for a mobile advertising solution is only becoming more paramount. Mobile advertising is growing at 61 percent year over year and will be an $18 billion market by 2015, according to an Emarketer forecast. SEO and SEM will likely remain dominant players in the near future, but mobile has a unique appeal to advertisers.
“The Next Big Thing”
Take Rhino Linings as an example. A leading manufacturer of spray on truck bed linings, Rhino was looking to engage consumers across mobile channels. Working with San Francisco based startup Buzzstarter, Rhino got consumers to share infographic content across Instagram, Pinterest, and almost 280 other channels.
“Putting Rhino content in the hands of consumers is important to us,” said Russell Lewis, founder of Rhino Linings. “Looking at mobile, we are seeing great engagement at the right place and the right time.”
Unilever, the global consumer products company that sells personal care and food products, has recently been exploring emerging channels like Pinterest as a means to engage mobile consumers. Working with their media agency Mindshare, Unilever is finding mobile engagement opportunities closer to the point of sale. All of these initiatives steal away dollars traditionally given to SEO and SEM.
“We are always on the lookout for the next big thing,” said Lou Paik, Shopper Marketing Manager at Unilever.
Entertainment Brands Take Notice
Rhino Linings and Unilever are not alone as entertainment brands are seeking out emerging channel marketing too. Some of the first advertisers to dive into the space are film studios like CBS Films. They are using more nascent channels to drive shares and views of trailer content, behind the scenes information, and film specific homepage traffic. It culminates in helping drive ticket sales for films’ opening weekends. For a field that has seen much reliance on SEM and mostly upstream marketing opportunities for new release awareness, emerging channels are a welcome and downstream driver of demographic specific marketing.
“Emerging channels allow content creators the opportunity to reach specific demographic subsets at a fraction of the cost,” said Michael Tringe, the Co-Founder of CreatorUp!, a web-series and entertainment marketing firm based in Los Angeles. “Rather than casting a wide net, emerging channels allow entertainment marketers the opportunity to specialize messages and tie ROI more tightly into their marketing budgets.”
Considering the cycle of entertainment offerings and output, we may see more experimentation from other entertainment brands. There is a wide array of options for doing this. In some instances, both marketing and consumption can be mixed. Some pioneers have attempted this. One instance is “Heroes” creator Tim Kring’s online series with production firm The Company P. Called Conspiracy for Good, the program attempted to put viewers in the show across multiple channels. But now, the multitude of channels just starting to take hold is going to open even better possibilities.
“What’s really exciting,” said Tringe, “is the opportunity to go where our audience goes.”
Using these alternative platforms, creators may be able to reach people much more organically across disparate communication formats. That in turn, could tie much better into the story they are trying to tell with content products. This type of marketing experimentation also creates a potential new path for nearly all advertisers.
Image courtesy of Jason Howie/Flickr