As a total channel, digital media channels can combine to reach large numbers of people. As we covered in the digital business model, internet penetration is at almost 90% of households and Facebook covers 60% of all Australians.
But, the challenge from a reach point of view is that consumers are looking at different channels and content at different times. Your digital adverts will be seen while they flick through content on Facebook or You Tube for example. Or it will only be seen when they search on a relevant topic. Your digital, media plan needs to find the right places online for your consumers to see your messages.
Digital Media Channel Fragmentation
Unlike broadcast media where you can guarantee a large audience watching a specific show or event, digital media channels are much more fragmented.
So, your digital media plan is much more likely to be a combination of many small media placements to achieve your overall reach number. In traditional media channels, you will have a fewer number of placements, but each will generally reach a higher number.
For example, there’s no digital equivalent of a major sports event final or the finale of a reality show that automatically drives large reach numbers.
BUT, you can reach these types of audiences if you focus your media plan on the digital channels that associate with those large events. Like news, sport or entertainment websites.
Digital media channels can and should be part of your overall reach targets. But it’s actually in support of the next stage of the digital journey where they really come into their own.
Using digital media channels to engage
Digital media channels have a great advantage over traditional media is that they can be made interactive.
Consumers can click on a paid search link. They can like or comment on a social media post. And they can click directly on an online display advert.
This ability to interact with the consumer is important for engagement. The consumer is active and can respond to a message immediately. And one easy way to measure engagement is by how much people lean back or lean forward when they consume the media.
Traditional – lean back media
When a consumer watches a TV or cinema ad, they consume it passively.
They see it whether they have chosen to or not. And there is no immediate action they can do with the advert itself. To “interact”, they need to use another piece of technology e.g. search for the product online or call a number to enquire.
This passive media experience is often called ‘lean back’ media. Because picture how you see advertising on TV or at the cinema. You are generally leaning back from the screen.
This means less engagement with the advertising itself.
Digital – lean forward media
Compare that to how you see adverts on your Facebook feed or on You Tube. In those channels, you are actively engaged in what is on the screen.
Digital media is a ‘lean forward’ media behaviour. The consumer actively consumes it. It’s important because the technology also means the advert can normally be interacted with immediately.
Digital media advertising can be clicked, touched, even spoken to. The ‘do something’ for the advert has an immediate and measurable next step for the consumer. It is a much more active experience.
That’s not to say there aren’t challenges with digital media channels or you should always choose them over traditional media.
It really depends on your target audience, your brand identity and your business context. You should consider digital media as part of your overall media plan as we’ll move on to next.