You may not have heard of Lauren Zalaznick, but you're likely familiar with her work – as president of NBC Universal's Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks, her creative marketing work fuels Oxygen, Bravo, NBC and the women’s forum iVillage. At ad:tech New York 2010, Zalaznick gave marketers insight on how to reach their audiences amidst the tech clutter following a simple formula: consumer, content, no fear.
Zalaznick suggests her success has hinged on adapting to new digital media while remembering that content relevant to specific audiences is vital to engagement. Constant feedback via online comments shape the direction of marketing content, and this content must be distributed on the media that an audience is using.
She doesn’t believe that technology is making marketers’ lives more difficult. Ultimately, she thinks the new platforms currently developing are new opportunities to distribute content. "Consumers have demonstrated they have an insatiable appetite for quality content, and technology helps them find it," she says. (She reminds marketers that even Steve Jobs' ever-evolving Apple interfaces are nothing without content.)
They key, Zalaznick says, is considering what content will work for which consumers. She reminds marketers that there is no “generic consumer” anymore – just 21 percent of Americans fall into the category of a traditional family (opposite sex parents with biological children). At the same time, increasingly diverse Americans are giving marketers more insight into what’s relevant for them through their comments, Likes and tweets – marketers can take advantage of these tech developments to really get to know their audience.
During content creation, marketers must bear in mind that consumers are bombarded with media messages, and only “the good stuff – high-quality, relevant stuff” wins. But what is this "good stuff?" For Zalaznick at NBC, it is content that is frequently updated, appeals to her audiences’ point of view and solicits consumers’ responses.
A television show on Oxygen saw ratings increases of up to 119 percent after her team launched Oxygen Live – an interactive chat experience for the web, smartphones and other digital screens. It offered viewers additional content about the latest episodes and fostered their own conversations. Similarly, she says that brand recall, message recall and overall likeability for various NBC products increased after new media content was incorporated into NBC's advertising.
The technological distribution is critical to success, she says, and marketers should be "fearless" about sharing content on new platforms – a lesson clearly learned with Oxygen Live. At the same time, remember tech innovation is only as good as the content offered.
Zalaznick goes as far as to say, "Technology is ultimately irrelevant – it’s the content that matters." Marketers planning their budgets for 2011, bear this message in mind.