Yahoo execs pitch ‘four-pillar marketing’

The seminar was replete with advice on how to turn consumers into 'raving fans and passionate advocates.'

Sales and marketing execs from Yahoo’s Canadian and US offices pitched ‘four-pillar marketing’ to media and advertising strategists in Toronto yesterday. Put simply, the four pillars are content, personalization, community and search – and Canadians are already familiar with them, Yahoo Canada marketing director Hunter Madsen tells MiC.

Madsen told the crowd that recent comScore research shows Canadians already take a four-pillar approach to media use – for 41 hours per month, compared to 24 hours per month in the US. More and more of that time is spent in digital communities, photo sharing and interactive entertainment environments.

‘Canadians are using the media this way, and it means marketers can do what we call four-pillar marketing,’ Madsen explains. ‘Marketers need to make sure that their programs are active in all of the four dimensions and that they’re thinking about how to use the content and the communities and the search activity and the personalization – making that relevant to the brand as well as the user.’

Each of the four pillars is based on a core of digital data that helps define the modern consumer through user profiling, and four-pillar marketing builds campaigns with careful consideration of all categories.

‘You’ve got the digital base of user profile information,’ says Madsen. ‘Then you put marketing program elements for community, content, search and personalization. And all of that builds up to a strategy for driving people up the pyramid, from just being part of the mass audience to being the engaged people ready to purchase, and finally to being – some of them – raving fans and passionate advocates.’

Execs from Yahoo’s Sunnyvale, California, HQ – including VP sales central region Charlie Thomas, sales and media research director Theresa LaMontagne and Engage! senior director David Kopp – highlighted case studies of several US campaigns that went beyond the banner in a bid to strengthen the argument for new approaches to marketing in the digital media landscape.

Madsen gave a Canadian example of digital media thinking with four-pillar potential. The Canadian Tourism Commission asked Yahoo Canada to build an online community to give Canadians a forum for expressing what they love about their country. In the future, this project could be used in tourism campaigns tied to other such communities created by, for example, Yahoo! France.

Thomas, VP sales for Yahoo’s central region in the US, told the crowd that the most powerful advertising, historically, has always been a direct reflection of the most powerful medium – and today that medium is interactive, so a common language is needed.

‘The hard trend of technology and demographics would indicate that when you have four pillars, it’s not going to go back to one,’ he said. ‘It may become eight. Maybe another pillar should be entertainment. You can improvise with it. But this gives you a foundation and a common language to operate with.

‘Standards are going to get raised really fast, starting this year and heading into 2008, around audiences and engagement,’ Thomas added. ‘Once you start buying big numbers of the kinds of audiences you can get in this audience pyramid, it’s not going to feel so good to spend more money to reach an audience that’s less engaged.

‘This is a competitive idea: Who can customize the best audiences? Anybody can buy an audience, but how do you create the best audience – so your advertising is creating assets as it goes, not just performing an advertising function?’