Brand marketers have long aspired to deliver their message to wherever consumers are. In the ‘Mad Men” era, manufacturers of auto-centric products would leverage specialty print publications such as Car & Driver to drive their message directly to car aficionados. Makers of fishing gear would tout their products in print mags such as American Angler to hook prospective customers. This same simple formula has been used by brand marketers for generations across multiple industries, which explains why being a specialty magazine publisher had usually been a money-making endeavor. But, as the print medium has progressively moved toward extinction and eclipsed by digital magazines, Facebook tools, Twitter, Instagram and other mass market applications, brand marketers are now grappling with the noise and clutter of having to navigate social media. So, it comes as no surprise that some brand marketers with an ax aimed at sending their brand message to their audience directly are embracing messaging apps.
Here’s the opening excerpt from a great synopsis of the new trend by NYT Advertising columnist Robert Hof:
“…Gatorade owns one of the iconic television moments of the Super Bowl, the dousing of the winning coach with a huge bucket of the sport drink, ice included. For the 2016 game, though, the brand wanted to reach more younger people, who tend to watch less TV.
The company turned to Snapchat, the mobile photo messaging app popular with teens and millennials. Aiming to “democratize the dunk,” according to Kenny Mitchell, senior director of consumer engagement, Gatorade created a “sponsored lens” ad that allowed people to overlay an animated dunk of the drink onto their selfies. They did so 165 million times in just two days.
Gatorade is one of a growing parade of brands eager to reach people inside messaging apps. With at least 1.4 billion monthly users collectively worldwide, apps such as Snapchat, WhatsApp and Kik, and Weixin and Line in Asia, have become the main daily hangout for many young people, sometimes even surpassing the time they spend on social networks and playing games.
But should brands insert themselves into one of the most personal activities online? Many apps, such as games, allow advertising, but who wants ads from Pampers cluttering their most intimate chats with friends?
Avoiding that potential to antagonize is one reason that many messaging services have either not allowed marketing or severely limited it. The founders of Facebook-owned WhatsApp have said they dislike advertising and won’t show any on their service.
Marketers are wary, too.
“If we misstep with certain audiences, they’ll unplug,” said Suzy Deering, chief marketing officer at eBay.
That doesn’t mean brands are completely unwelcome on messaging apps. But it does mean that so far on these services, they are remarkably restrained in their approaches, focusing less on promotion and more on providing entertainment or utility — or both. In some cases, the marketing isn’t even in the form of paid ads…”
To continue reading the NYT piece, please click here