Live from DMA06: Marketers as High-Tech Storytellers

(Direct) San Francisco–Web 2.0 will be about telling stories in the service of marketing to consumers: That’s the message that attendees at the Direct Marketing Association’s annual meeting heard in a keynote speech from Michael Davis, senior vice president/director of emerging media for Draft FCB Chicago.

Backed by a multimedia presentation that showed classic commercials and movies and consumer-generated clips from YouTube, Davis told his audience that “it is the right idea, the story, that has always motivated the customer to act,” and that focusing too much on the device that conveys the message can blind marketers to the full range of possibilities for customer communication that will be available to them in the near future.

Showing a clip of Steve Jobs introducing the first Apple Macintosh computer in the early ’80s, Davis made the point that emerging media are about passion. “It might have measurable results, and it might have accountability, and I might talk about that to clients every single day,” he said. “But it is about passion, and you can see the passion in Jobs’s face.”

Davis ran through a list of macrotrends that marketers will have to come to grips with before the end of the decade. Video on demand, for example, will liberate content from the network programming schedule, thanks to more than 60 million U.S. homes will video on demand by the end of the decade and 30 million with digital video recorders. That video is also migrating to the Internet, thanks to the 65,000 videos that are uploaded daily to YouTube alone. And that trend in turn is fostering a “me revolution” of social networking, in which individual consumers can author Web channels all about themselves — and give marketers insight into how they want to be marketed to.

The trend that holds the most potential, Davis said, is the migration of content to mobile devices. While full-motion video — essentially, TV on the handset — is only available today with workarounds such as Slingbox technology, within a few years viewers will be able to get what they say they want most from their mobile phones: movies, sports and news.

Inside the retail store, which Davis termed the “fourth screen,” radio frequency identification (RFID) tags will help retailers understand consumer behavior better by tracking their movements through the aisles.

These technologies will all work together to help marketers tell consumers the stories that will motivate them to act, according to Davis. “Content still seems to be the king, and contact is there to make sure that content gets to you,” he said. “Whether you’re online or in the store, it becomes about how the shopper has control, and what they’re doing with that content. Changing behavior becomes the center piece of all the consumption models.”

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