Media Soulmates

Finally, I am able to merge my two true loves into one beautiful, harmonious chorus. Where two worlds collide. Where the strident yin melds into the soft, yielding flesh of yang.The two chaotic yet potentially symbiotic worlds of media and dating. If you’re unfamiliar with my previous forays into how celebrities can help us understand more about media planning, then you’ve missed out on some fabulous Charles Darwin and Vivienne Westwood-based theory. But for the more well-read amongst you, you will understand how I like to take two apparently unconnected topics and link them seemlessly together through the medium of simile.

And so begins the tale of what dating (and specifically online dating) can tell us about media planning…

Since the dawn of media buying time, we’ve been advised that the people we are advertising to are either aged 16-34, Housewives (with kids) or Adults. Often, there will be some augmentation to these demographic groupings, such as “Female targeted”, which is helpful when marketing any film starring Hugh Grant, or tampons. As the media landscape has developed, and we have progressed more and more in the digital arena, so have the targeting capabilities got more and more granular. Got a new soap powder you want to promote? Surely you want to target busy housewives with large families who live particularly in the home counties (where your brand is strongest)? Or do you? How do you know that this is the audience that are going to fall in love with your brand? What about all those single people in their tiny flats in London who get through absolutely tons of the stuff because they have such expansive wardrobes due to a hectic social life?

Or how about a new brand of trainer, that you think will appeal to teenage boys with secret crushes on David Beckham? Yes, you can target them to the nth degree on the Internet or through football magazines, but is that the only audience for them?

romantic dinner

Now consider the complex world of online dating, where you are required to specify every single detail of your dream, imaginary boyfriend of the future. Everything from body art (no thanks) to music tastes, to prefered food types and ideal night in (IT’S ALWAYS A CUDDLE ON THE SOFA WITH A DVD AND A GOOD BOTTLE OF RED – copyright every online dating profile ever). We can be so specific with our requirements for our partner of choice, but what are these requirements based on? I know that, broadly speaking, I would like to date someone who is intelligent, caring and exciting (to me). But how could I tell from merely looking at HotDate1977’s profile that he would be any of these things? I like the look of his picture and he ticks certain boxes: Public School (check). Sociable (check – they always are). Loves art & theatre (check). And of course, loves a night in on the sofa with a DVD & a bottle of wine (check, begrudgingly). So, in the cold light of the computer screen, a perfect match.

But what happens if we actually meet? What happens when you finally meet this potentially perfect man who actually turns out to be a member of the Young Conservatives and turns up at your date in the Sloaney Pony (OK, he also lives in Fulham – another check) with a charming lemon yellow Ralph Lauren jumper slung loosely around his shoulders? There are some things you just can’t screen for. Similarly, every day, people get discounted by potential mates purely on simple criteria mismatches such as “Food: vegetarian” or “Music is very important to me”. Just because that person didn’t match my specific criteria (too short, too tall, too old, too fat, too bald, too hairy, too posh, too media), is this really a reason for discounting them?

So what does this tell us about media planning? The answer is simple. In digital media, we don’t know who is going to choose to watch or play or engage with whatever beautiful, exciting and innovating pieces of content we create. We can’t possibly forecast precisely who is going to be the perfect match for our brand, even though we may know vaguely who it might appeal to. Digital media is self selecting, the worst thing we could do would be to limit our options and prevent us meeting our ideal man.

POSTED BY: Juliet Du Vivier

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