As corporations begin to recognize the full power of online communications to reach audiences with their marketing messages many are using their own publishing tools to reach those audiences instead of relying solely on media outlets. From corporate weblogs to viral videos to slick interactive Web sites corporate marketing they’re beginning to see powerful results from direct marketing communications – and more cost-effective returns from auction-based contextual ads.

Some retailers are even learning how to leverage their own strong destination sites for ad revenues, further diluting the value of traditional publishing channels for getting out marketing messages. As venues for ads become more dispersed and more corporations build relationships directly with audiences, is the traditional media model based on brand advertising sustainable as a high-margin business?

Key issues:

  • Getting the message out – GM uses its own weblog to talk back to negative coverage in NYT
  • Using online videos edited by users to build product enthusiasm
  • Home Depot selling brand ads on its own retail site
  • Boeing building an immersive experience for the DreamLiner – an on-demand seductive experience
  • IndustryBrains targeting contextual ads – small and medium businesses opting for online ads through ad networks (Forrester Research study)

David Meerman ScottDavid Meerman Scott
Principal, Freshspot Marketing, LLC

Colleen DeCourcyColleen DeCourcy
Chief Experience Officer, JWT, a WPP Group agency
Ben Edwards
Director, IBM New Media Communications

Manning Field
SVP Branding & Advertising, Chase Card Services

Thoughts about the panel from the moderator, David Meerman Scott

We discussed what the panelists called “Brand Journalism” which is exactly what I’ve been talking about for years – most recently what I refer to as The New Rules of Marketing and PR – the idea that smart organizations of all types publish content on the Web to reach buyers directly.

My two fantastic panelists were:
Colleen DeCourcy, Chief Experience Officer of JWT (a WPP Group agency). JWT is the largest advertising agency in the US and works with organizations like Jet Blue, Nestle, Shell, Pfizer, and the USMC.

Ben Edwards, Director, New Media Communications at IBM. I have been familiar with Ben’s work from when he was Tokyo Bureau Chief of The Economist. I lived in Tokyo for 7 years and for most of that time was Asia Marketing Director for an electronic news division of Knight-Ridder.

Unfortunately, Manning Field, SVP Branding & Advertising for Chase Card Services was a no show. Too bad, he missed a great discussion.

Colleen DeCourcy and her colleagues at JWT worked with Ford Motor Company to create the information portal called Ford Bold Moves, which documents the future of Ford. Includes Ford-produced video and user comments. Ford is really putting themselves out there by letting people talk about them on a Ford-generated Web site.

Ben Edwards detailed the remarkable corporate publishing efforts at IBM and explained the very open and permissible environment for self-publishing, available to any employee (over 380,000) worldwide. IBM provides tools to their employees for blogging and has 3000 or more employee bloggers. (Wow!) Ben’s role is to help market those blogs so the audience can find what they need more easily.

IBM distributes more than 300 RSS feeds which they use their buyers directly. They also offers podcasts, for example, 10 minutes from their top IP attorney.

IBM has even developed content for Youtube – for example, this Art of the Sale series of mockumentaries.

These are people who truly understand how to use content to drive action. They know that when people visit your company’s Web site, they aren’t there to hear your slogan or see your logo again. They want information, interaction, and choice—and you’d be a fool not to give it to them. Smart marketers who want to communicate with buyers directly, raise their company’s online visibility, and increase sales need to put the new rules to work.

Here are some of the questions I had prepared for the panel but that I did not get to ask:

  • What is different about corporate publishing vs. traditional advertising?
  • How is advertising on social media sites like MySpace different from broadcast & print?
  • How to determine audiences for the content? Segmentation by buyers?
  • What is the role of “Storytelling”?
  • What do you see happening in Second life?
  • How do you measure results? Metrics?
  • Is the traditional media model based on brand advertising sustainable as a high-margin business?

Visit David’s Web site. Also, check out his new book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly