At GroupM we work very closely with Jeff Cole of the Center for the Digital Future at USC. I've seen him speak at a number of our client events this year and each time been fascinated by his insights. I didn't make this presentation in Monaco but its well worth taking 30 minutes to watch.
TV is now better value than it has been for ages. The credit crunch means lower demand is driving prices down and lots of data shows that people are watching as much TV as ever - despite the amount of time being spent with digital media. The new Ofcom report on the International Communications Market has some interesting facts that help explain this. Backing up our anecdotal findings we see that 74% of UK Internet Users surf whilst they watch TV - and 28% do it most times.
But brands face an additional challenge from some retailers. Search for a favourite brand on the Grocery section of Tesco.com and they helpfully offer a link to "Cheaper Alternatives" As well as this approach online, some of their recent advertising promotes new brands as alternatives.
This hijacking is probably a smart move from retailers using digital to enhance customer service though showing a wider range of options, but it's a further reason why brands that choose not to tell their story in the coming months are going to find it hard to regain those people who decide to opt for the cheaper alternative.
As well as the Sprint distribution and the extras, the involvement includes Sprint sponsorship and subtle product placement - but the big win is the brand affiliation; without Sprint this content would not exist. So its essentially brand curated content.
As the campaign reaches the end, the Obama campaign has shifted emphasis to getting the vote out, with really interesting contributions from Google with their GoogleVote site - promoted on YouTube too.
MoveON have also joined in with a smart viral video which has been shared around 14 million times.
Other helpers include the cast and crew behind the Budweiser Wassup campaign - remade to support Obama it has racked up 3.6 million views in its first week;
Whilst much of the attention around the campaigns focuses on both candidates use of digital, I think it is the way Obama has used all media together that is really smart. Helped by collecting huge amounts of money using online, he has invested in TV really smartly. His roadblock with a 30 minute infomercial was a masterstroke - exactly the right way to use TV. He reached over 33 million people on the 7 networks that ran the spot - and has almost 2 million views on YouTube. And he has combined this use of media with excellent organisation of people in nearly every community in the US - primarily using Meetup
This brilliant orchestration of various media is just what communications planning is all about - knowing how to blend paid for media with free, how to accommodate partners efforts and how to let consumers keep and share your content. Its what smart agencies have been pushing for a while - but the old fashioned structure of the marketing business has created some friction. With financial hard times - and a clear demonstration from Obama on just how successful this approach can be - expect brands everywhere to take note.