The interactive brand ecosystem revisited

Nate Elliott at Forrester published an interesting post last year about the Interactive Brand Ecosystem. Essentially he is asking whether it is time that we abandoned a TV-centric planning model and worked instead on the premise that the website sits at the heart of the marketing process.

Here’s a nice diagram to show you what he is on about:ecosystemThe idea is that the channels on the outer ring drive traffic into your website – and at the same time content is pushed out from your website and into social channels where prospects engage with your content and then hopefully click back into your site.

This is how it is meant to work:Screen-Shot-2012-08-15-at-05.54At one level, Nate is stating the obvious here – that one primary use of TV is as a drive to web channel. But he is also dead right that we still have a legacy feeling that TV should drive the entire marketing campaign from a creative or ‘big idea’ point of view.

TV will often give us rich visual content to play with – but what we really need in the digital realm is a creative idea that encourages interactivity and engagement. Putting the website at the heart of the interactive brand ecosystem forces us to think about what kind of creative idea will turn a browser into a buyer – and that is likely to be a more powerful platform for a campaign.

I don’t see this as a one-size-fits-all approach – and in fact in my next post I want to look at how the interactive brand ecosystem works with permission marketing.

One final thought is around the role of social media. Last year I saw Tom Bedecarre, the chairman of AKQA, speak at a conference and his view was that for many brands there was no point in creating a standalone brand website – they should instead be focusing on creating branded experiences on Facebook. There’s a pretty good argument for that for FMCG brands, but I’m nervous about this approach where you have a transactional website – I think you would normally want to bring traffic to the point where they can actually buy.

So what do you think? I think this kind of mapping out of the interactive brand ecosystem is potentially a useful digital planning tool – and one that could allow digital planning to sieze the high ground of campaign planning.

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