Opinion: Why should agencies & brands test the waters on new platforms? An insider view

new platforms

Mithun Cotha explains how new platform experiences and value delivered to the target audience will be the differentiator, making it integral for agencies to keep up with tech innovations.

The lines are blurred between technology and other functions. Like any business is a tech business, Agencies are no excuse. Tech used to be a differentiation before, it’s a way of life now. Hence, agencies should keep track of and evaluate new platforms, and participate in trends rather than missing the bus. In many activations, tech goes hand-in-glove with platforms to develop relevant experiences for example an Alexa skill or a concert in the metaverse. Agencies need to upskill the in-house teams or partner with expert providers to bring ideas to life. 

One can ask that there are so many new platforms that are emerging, how does one choose to engage? 

  • Modern marketing says, “go after your audience”. The “Brand fit” of a platform can be subject to creativity or interpretation. New platform experience and value delivered to the target audience will be the differentiator.  
  • Size of the audience – potential exposure that the activation can generate on the platform or across digital. 
  • Possibility of the activation to travel outside the native platforms. For example: if activation is native to Decentraland, then how can the activation travel across Instagram or  YouTube?  

Now, why is it important for activation to travel outside the native platform like Decentraland? 

Let’s say the objective of activation is to gain maximum exposure or engagement with the target audience, then one new platform that the agency is evaluating may or may not achieve the desired reach for these objectives. It’s important to plan the extensions that can provide enough exposure for the activation, so the effort reaps result. 

Let us take another example. Wendy’s the famous food chain invaded the Fortnite game to keep food fresh without freezers. Here the native platform was Fortnite the game – has grown popular among the TG. The gameplay was streamed on Twitch the streaming platform – later it gained exposure viral on Twitter (for more details, google “Wendy’s fresh Fortnite”). 

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If Wendy’s did not decide to build visibility on Twitter + Twitch for a Fortnite game then, 

  • The activation would have been limited to only people who were in that game following  Wendy’s. 
  • It would be limited to only Twitch, which is limited to a few hundred thousand viewers who would follow that twitch stream. 
  • It worked when the reach was multiplied for the twitch stream by getting picked up on Twitter, picked up by the news, YouTube and so on. 

Here the native/destination platform is Fortnite the game, the dependent platform is twitch and the amplification platform is Twitter + others. Hence planning amplification is important. 

So how do agencies plan for these new platform activations? 

  • The answer is in understanding how digital communication functions. Platforms or touchpoints can be bucketed into Amplification platforms and Native/Destination platforms (I  am over-simplifying here).
  • Understand if the activation is planned 
  1. On a native platform where amplification on an external platform is needed to achieve the desired reach like in Wendy’s example. 
  2. OR on a platform with reach. For example – Swiggy launched the “Voice of Hunger”  campaign using a voice DM feature on Instagram. Here experience and reach are both available on the same platform, it still got extensions across digital. 

In summary, creative and planning teams need to keep a constant watch on audience interests; observe emerging platforms, features or trends. Constantly evaluate ways to become part of platform experiences. 

I would not say force-fit; but make it mandatory for every creative team to present ideas that leverage unique experiences including Voice, Metaverse, IoT, etc. or to think of providing an engaging web experience like this Oppo’s Reno Product page (look up Reno8-T-5g). This way brands and agencies can handle the fragmentation of audiences across platforms, discover new audiences and stay relevant on new platforms.

This article is penned by Mithun Cotha – Senior Vice President – Data and Insights, GREY group India.