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The delivery mechanisms have at least partly changed, but the messaging has not particularly changed. The key success factors for kid’s content and for toy advertising are still more or less the same:
One thing though which has not particularly changed is the friction and disconnection between media companies, TV advertising people and the toy companies.
Looking at the media companies in the world of kid’s entertainment production and distribution first, there are several key areas of friction which have not particularly changed over time.
Looking to the world of advertising, the disconnect between toy companies and advertising/marketing companies is as clear as it was pre-digital media. In the past toy companies would complain of advertising agencies trying to make great art out of kid’s TV commercials instead of just selling the product. This is an age-old advertising industry vs client friction point which has not gone away. Today of course TV advertising remains a key part of the marketing mix, albeit not as omnipresent as before. But we also now have search engine optimization (SEO), online advertising and a myriad of other platforms all spawning countless agencies to bombard the clients (i.e. us in the toy companies).
The reality today is that we are much less likely to have an argument about creative content with an SEO or online advertising agency than we are with an agency producing TV commercials, but nevertheless there are still some big friction points. One of the major challenges is the lack of technical understanding or sophistication on behalf of some toy company staff. It is all too easy to have an agency take advantage of an unknowledgeable marketing person in a toy company.
From the agency’s perspective, it can be very frustrating if the client doesn’t fully understand the key premise of your business. It makes it harder to make the client feel you are doing a good job & delivering, but also makes it harder to achieve successful results in the first place.
One key element of all digital marketing though (as with all forms of marketing) is metrics – tangible tracking of impact of spend. All marketing should be closely impact measured, but digital advertising above all should deliver constant meaningful, measurable data, and should be switched on or ramped up/switched off based on more instant measures of success.
There are those industries and companies who can’t believe that toy companies still spend so much on TV advertising or even on producing their own entertainment content for kids. But clearly there is a reality that while kids are heavy users of the internet, they are harder to effectively and ethically target en masse online, especially since they should not yet be using social media.
TV advertising both during kids programming slots on terrestrial TV and kid’s specialist channels is still a great way to reach kids of the right age with motivating messages. One of the challenges here for toy companies is to educate their agencies to understand that while you can easily target parents online, it can be more challenging to hit kids in an impactful mass market way.
Two things are sure – firstly the media landscape will continue to evolve – we are after all still in the infancy of the internet revolution in historical terms. Secondly, friction and misunderstanding will continue between toy companies and media companies, yet the two remain forever intertwined regardless – so strong relationship management will always be key to achieving success.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Spielwarenmesse eG.
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