More telly, Monkey – the impact of digital

Do you remember the adverts for ITV Digital, with Johnny Vegas and the monkey? Not to be confused with the PG Tips ads (though it is the same Vegas and Monkey duo).

Anyway, the advert (from 2001) went:

Vegas:  “Monkey, we need more telly”

Monkey:  “We need better telly, silly man.”

A year or so later ITV Digital was no more.

So what’s the lesson? Well, that Monkey was right.

Unfortunately, delivering ‘better’, especially when it’s inextricably linked to delivering ‘more’ can be difficult to achieve.

It’s certainly more expensive.

The more channels you have, the more content you need.

This is also an issue facing many marketeers following the boom in digital communications: online editions of magazines and newspapers; independent blogs; email marketing; forums; and social media, as well as companies’ own websites.

Whereas a B2B company was once able to address its prospective customers through a select number of trade magazines, industry-specific exhibitions and old-fashioned direct mail through the post, the options have now increased exponentially, while, in many cases, the cost of fulfilment has dropped dramatically.

For example, sending direct mail by email is significantly cheaper than sending stuff through the post. Social media is free to set up and use. Webinars can be attended by the click of a mouse, rather than driving two hours to an exhibition hall in Birmingham or getting on a train to London.

Having said that, ‘more channels’ hasn’t necessarily made things any easier.

If we have more channels, it makes sense that they don’t all reach as many people any more (unless people now spend a lot more of their day checking ‘news feeds’ from many different sources). So you’ve got to use multiple channels to get the same reach.

As many of the new channels work differently, you’ve also got to have your messages in different formats and maybe in many different mediums e.g. video for YouTube, snippet style for twitter, html for emails.

And because of the digital nature of the world and the ease with which we can update digital communications channels, the need to feed is constant. A simple illustration of this is the need to frequently update a company website to stop it looking out of date, whereas a company brochure might only be updated every couple of years.

The upshot of all this is that the digital explosion has created an almost insatiable demand. Literally hundreds of communications channels that are possible conduits for your marketing messages.

The $64,000 question is: which ones are most (cost) effective.

The answer’s the same as it’s always been: it depends on your audience.

Even ‘free’ communications vehicles like twitter and facebook, might at first appear to be a ‘no brainer’, but they still take resource to create and disseminate messages and they can also present a risk in terms of presenting your organisation badly if the person entrusted to use them on your behalf posts something inappropriate or isn’t equipped to deal with a negative response or public criticism.

Often the ease with which we can disseminate messages (encouraged by the nature of twitter and facebook) leads to a ‘need’ to post regularly and frequently, regardless of the quality of the message.

Similarly, email marketing is so much easier and cheaper to set up and use than sending printed items through the post, but if it’s not well thought out, it can be a complete waste of time (and annoying to the recipient).

So, now that we have ‘more telly’ and it’s likely that we probably have to use more of it to achieve our marketing aims, it’s just as important to heed Monkey’s advice and ensure that the content we feed into it makes for ‘better telly’.

Categories: Opinion Marketing