As someone who worked for AOL Time Warner soon after the marriage of the two, I am glad to see them making some smart decisions. Today they announced the acquisition of Lighteningcast and while I don’t know the company, I like what I’m hearing about their capabilities.
The pace at which companies have bought into the idea of convergence and measurement of media has amazed me. Right now, you’re seeing many companies jump on the band wagon of a major shake-up in the marketing arena. Wal-Mart’s recent news of leading the charge on changing the way television advertising is bought was a major step towards what will be the future of marketing…an online marketplace where any individual can manage their radio, television, “Internet” (whatever you want to call this) and search marketing from a single console. Think of AdWords on steroids. How would you like to be able to bid on an ad placement on a radio station in Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas, and New York City upload your commercial and measure exactly how many times someone listened to your spot. Even better…perhaps there’s a way for a listener to “click through” to an offer, so that you can measure this! Hey…what if you could track that person all the way to a sale!
Funny thing is that the Interactive marketing community has been “selling this” for a long time. I can recall selling advertising programs for Lycos in early 2000 and having clients call me, within 2 hours of their program going live, and complaining of poor return (?). Wow. That was rough. What I did see, however, was that something had to give…either the Interactive marketing space would have to limit the amount of measurement or Traditional media would have to become more measurable. After thinking about this for all of about 5 minutes, I concluded that the way that Interactive marketing is measured will win out…in time.
That time has come. Marketers are no longer convinced that the Nielsen numbers they’ve been buying are accurate. Marketers will always prefer television (or “v-casting” or whatever you wanna call it) to “text ads”. But, at the end of the day, marketers want “success” towards their goals. If the goal is branding, then it makes sense to consider audio/video programs. If not, just monitize marketing programs across all media. When all media is as measurable as Interactive marketing has been, marketers will be able to buy radio, television, search…whatever and maintain their cost per acquisition goals.
It’s truly an exciting time to be in this business. For those of us who were part of the early beginnings of Interactive marketing, it’s “about time” is all I can say. But, again, it seems like it’s only been this past year that traditional marketers have caught on.