Oh, is that why they call it “interactive”?






The interactive media are interactive.

I apologize if you find that headline strikes you as redundant or obvious. It is both. But from the way some marketers fail to use the interactive media interactively, you’d think it was news.

A limitation of older media like TV, radio and newspaper was that they provide the market no direct means to interact. To gauge advertising effectiveness, marketers were limited to indirect measures. Often this took the form of measuring how many people recalled an ad. Ads with high recall scores were deemed successful.

Sales were not terribly useful as a success measure. For one thing, causation was elusive. Did sales go up because the ads were great or because someone saw a celebrity using the product? For another, success as a standard was slippery. Advertising congratulated itself when sales were strong and, when sales were weak, for the fact that sales weren’t even weaker.

But today we have media that let the market interact. They let us track links followed, time spent per page, referring pages, calls placed from a device, chat, texts, navigation, forwards, Facebook likes, Tweets, and so on, ad infinitum.

Best of all, we can directly measure whether and how much all of that activity is just activity, as opposed to how much of it actually results in cold, hard sales. And that matters. When there is no spending, no buying—no sales—no amount of activity counts for anything. We don’t call sales “the bottom line” just because it sounds cool.

In this golden age of interactivity, you’d think marketers would hang their ultimate hats on sales. Yet despite all the data, measurement and tracking available down to the penny on the balance sheet, many marketers today are content to hang their hats on … hits. Just hits. And bosses and clients let them get away with it. With some, it’s as if hits alone are the quintessential measure of success.

News flash: Just as in the old days you could garner record recall scores and not sell a thing (New Coke), today you can garner record hits and not sell a thing (Anthony Weiner).

The interactive media are interactive. If you’re a marketer who fails to take advantage of that particular feature, I recommend putting serious thought into emerging from the Stone Age.

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