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Yahoo creates "Brand Fanatics"

Madison, Wis. - Companies and marketers can create "brand fanatics" by recognizing the power of "online" and bringing consumers into their advertisements, according to the chief marketing officer for Yahoo!

Cammie Dunaway, presenting at the Brandworks University 2006 conference in Madison, advised attendees to use their brand advertising to drive Internet exposure and to engage customers in brand building.

Dunaway, repeating a point made earlier in the conference by University of California professor John Battelle, noted there is still a huge gap between the amount of time people spend online and the amount of advertising dollars being spent online. Internet growth far exceeds any other medium, yet "a lot of folks don't fully understand the power of online creativity," she stated.

Among the best practices that facilitate online creativity are target marketing (for greater effectiveness), streaming video (stimulates interaction), and the combined use of display ads and sponsored search, or "meshing media." Everyone has a favorite television show where brand marketing can be used to reach targeted consumers and then drive online search, and more people watch their favorite TV shows with a laptop (and therefore the Internet) within easy reach, she noted.

The popular show The Apprentice took advantage of this by promoting the Apprentice car, encouraging online search of the same, and pre-selling 1,000 vehicles in 41 minutes.
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Consumers, she said, are using online as an additive to other media. "This notion of online and TV is very, very powerful," she said.

For even greater user participation, indeed creation, Yahoo! Music launched an advertisement featuring Shakira fans dancing and lip syncing to her hit song Hips Don't Lie (www.music.yahoo.com/promos/shakirahipsdontlie)

Getting your most avid fans involved in creating content and brand message is a triumph of experimentation with "cool, new things," she said. "Take a bit of your (advertising) budget just to be experimenting on ways to connect with consumers," she advised.

Don't fight it

Those who resist the opportunity to be on more computer screens, and get inside the hearts and minds of potentially loyal customers, are ignoring some powerful trends.

More than any other demographic, technology is important in the lives of kids and teen-agers, and the proof is their constant sidekicks - iPods, cell phones, and hand- helds that enable them to e-mail and otherwise communicate. "It really is just a way of life," Dunaway said.

Still, technology isn't the issue, it's getting inside the hearts and minds of consumers. Good marketing, she asserted, is about unlocking consumer insights and using them to drive growth. The most significant advances in unlocking the "culture of participation" are broadband and wireless.

Even though the United States lags behind other nations in broadband deployment, it is widespread enough to change the lives of millions of consumers and the way marketers interact with them. "The Web changed things, but not as much as broadband," Dunaway said. "The computer is always on, and everything can reach you so much faster. It also unlocks a world of opportunities for marketers."

Wireless, meanwhile, makes the Web ubiquitous. Surveys estimate that wireless Internet is used in 61% of family rooms, 51% of kitchens, and even in 21% of bathrooms. People are moving off their personal computers in greater numbers, and mobility is much more common in emerging markets, a trend that international marketers can take advantage of.

People also are doing more with their cell phones, including taking digital pictures, reading restaurant reviews, and checking out what's playing at local cinemas. "If you want to know what life will be like here in a few years, go to Seoul (South Korea) and watch the teens," Dunaway said. "The kids do everything on the phone."

The architecture of creation, where the consumer is the creator, also has been enabled by personal Web pages, blogging, the aforementioned camera phones, which have created millions of photo journalists, and pod casts, which Dunaway characterized as "online learning on steroids."

The consumer has taken control because they have been bombarded with programming across a number of channels. In essence, she observed, we have moved from the mass media to the digital media to what Yahoo! calls "My Media."

As a result, the marketing game is no longer about reach and exposure, it's about engagement. Consumers, enabled by on-demand products like TiVo, are saying, "I don't have to watch television when you want me to watch television," Dunaway said, which is making it harder for marketers to reach them.

All the more reason to make them feel part of the brand, or otherwise position the brand to connect with them. Ted Woehrle, vice president of marketing for Procter & Gamble North America, preceded Dunaway and cited several examples of targeting consumers where they are most receptive to a given marketing message. In one Pakistani campaign, an action figure called Commander Safeguard was used to communicate the importance of hygiene by fighting off villainous germs. It was tailor made for a number of mediums, but designed to reach one demographic - children.

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