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This morning’s session at ILM:08 on Leveraging Traditional Media Online was an eye-opener in many respects. It was striking, for example, how aggressively NBC is embracing the idea of following the audience wherever it can get its attention — at the gas pump, at the gym, as well as on the couch with a soda and a bag of potato chips.

BIA’s Rick Ducey, one of the moderators of this panel, teed off the discussion when he said, “the future is what you make of it.” The three panelists responded to this challenge by showing what future they are creating, and what their companies are doing to integrate traditional media with various forms of new media.

Larry Olevitch of NBC Local Media listed the many venues where his company is reaching people — taxis, supermarkets, online gaming, fuel pumps and soon commuter trains — enabling them to offer a multiplatform campaign for their advertisers. Additionally, working with other companies in this traditional media space, even direct competitors, has led to very interesting and successful campaigns. NBC along with CBS Radio along with Comcast put together a successful Great Used Car Sale Campaign in Chicago utilizing the different forums these competitive firms offer. Olevitch noted the 10-day event generated 26 million impressions. He didn’t say how many cars were sold.

Comcast is also constructing its future with different media acquisitions. Comcast has purchased Fandango, Vehix, Plaxo and other companies, all with the intent of allowing its customers (advertisers) to more easily plan and execute campaigns. And, of course, the company is partnering with other media companies such as NBC to further this goal.

Meredith Papp from Google talked about how the search giant is making its future by providing many more analytical tools to make it easier for advertisers to buy multimedia. Through some experiments, Google has been able to increase the revenues of advertisers with these analytics and planning.

One specific innovation Papp discussed was the idea of using a “consumer response tag” to develop a standard location on print ads for call to action data (800 numbers and so on) based on the notion that if consumers are trained to look in a set location for response information, response rates will grow.

What will the future of these companies be? Clearly, they are acting and making very serious acquisitions and partnering with many companies to try to make their futures their own.

Thanks and credit to my colleague Mark Fratrik of BIA Advisory Services for contributing to this post.

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