Humans are the most social of all animals. We love to talk and interact with others. It is one activity we crave for and if are deprived of it, we could sometimes lose our sanity too. Well, advertisers are realizing this fact too; i.e., if they do not interact with their consumers, they could lose their market share to those who do so! The latest development in TV ads is helping advertisers do just this. Technology is being used to change ads from being a one-way communication process to two-way. It’s time that companies realized that not many are watching their ads. Think about it. Every time there is an ‘ad break’, we use it for a ‘loo-break’ or a ‘mobile checking break’ or a ‘what’s-on-in-other-channels- break’!!! This is making many big advertisers turn away from TV.

Take a test… try to remember the last few Nike commercials you saw on TV. Chances are that you will not be able to clearly remember them, for the simple reason that Nike is no more big on TV. Nike’s spending on TV and print has dropped by 40% in the last three years, though its total marketing budget has increased and is today at a record high of $2.4 billion. Nike has shifted its focus from expensive celebrity endorsements and has started making more interactive online marketing plans that encourage the user to communicate directly with the company. So those are the products like Nike+ running sensor and the Nike ‘FuelBand’ that are its key areas of focus today. The one division that has doubled its size in the company (from 100 employees to 200 in just 6 months) is Nike Digital Sport. The company spent $800 million on ‘non-traditional’ media in 2010. Rather than spending on the Super Bowl as it had traditionally always done, Nike feels that it makes better sense to focus on its online communities. It is here that most of its consumers spend their time (and not in front of the TV). It is here that it can get 200 million visits everyday, as compared to that one Super Bowl Sunday when 200 million Americans watch the game. It is here that Nike encourages millions of its users to post their workout details and in return gives them fitness tips, helps them share their workouts with friends, et al. This ‘conversation’ helps the company know more about its customers and helps it plan better marketing strategies.

Considering the fact that today, more than 5 million runners log on to Nike to check their performance, Nike has followed the right strategy. It’s not surprising that in spite of Adidas and Reebok merging and becoming one giant organization and in spite of so many new and hot upstarts in tow, Nike remains the world’s largest sports company; for the simple reason that it has stayed connected to its consumers.

As Nike CEO Mark Parker says, “Connecting today is a dialogue.” He actually implies that those days when a good product with good advertising were enough to sell the product are long gone. Today, marketing is all about interacting closely with the consumer, probably just like the old days when its founder Phil Knight started selling shoes out of his car. He convinced each customer, made him his friend and sold him his shoes. Online communities help brands make friends and customize their communications to suit each one’s need. One can say that marketing has come full circle! Glitzy ads will not work, nor will world famous celebrities. What will finally work is your ability to understand the consumer and your ability to engage in a conversation with him.


Everybody is waking up to the fact that passive one way communication will work no more. So Microsoft has gone ahead and made this very passive medium, i.e. the TV ad, into an interactive one. It’s introduced the NUads on its gaming console Xbox 360 Kinect. It’s the new hands-free gaming experience, which requires no controls except your hand gestures, making everybody in the family from the 6-year old to the 60-year old enjoy it. On this platform, it has launched these interactive ads.

The ads that are streamed on the Xbox are different from your regular ads, for they ask you to participate in opinion polls, and even give you the results instantly. They ask you if you want to share the ad on Twitter, and once you say ‘Yes’, it takes just a wave of your hand to post it on your account on the social networking site of your choice. An advertisement for a TV show will ask you if you want to put a reminder on your phone, so that you don’t forget to watch it. Again, a swipe of your hand will send the information of the show timing on your mobile phone and set an alarm to remind you to watch the show. This and various other interactive activities have been built into the ads so that you no more watch them passively, or worse, still walk away while the ad break is on.     Read More....

An Initiative of IIPM, Malay Chaudhuri and Arindam chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist).

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