Best Buy has joined the growing list of companies that are choosing to become media companies as part of their business strategy. They are realizing that in order to reach their target audience, they can no longer just depend on use of outside media. In today’s world the customer has come to expect a deeper, more direct relationship with the companies they are dealing with.
Why? What has changed? It’s simple. In the new digital age customers CAN engage directly with the companies they are doing business with. The Internet, Email, Facebook, YouTube, Social Media have all contributed to the ability of customers and companies to find each other and interact directly. And, frankly, direct engagement CAN be more satisfying. The pressure is on companies today to talk with, not at, their customers. The best companies at this are also learning how to use this new engagement to listen to what their customers say.
Enter Best Buy, which according to Advertising Age this week turns on BestBuyOn.com, what they describe as a multichannel network with lots of original editorial content an information. It also gives the user the ability to review a product and say what they think in public.
On the BestBuyOn.com website today, for example, I found 31 reviews of Google’s Nexus S Mobile Phone, giving it generally high marks, four out of five stars. But I also found this review, which gave it 2 stars:
“Warning! This phone has no SD card slot. You are locked into just the 16GB. If storage is a problem for you or you would like to be able to swap different cards in, you won’t get that with this phone. Frankly, if I wanted to be locked into just the pre-installed storage, I’d just by the iPhone…I am disappointed with Google putting their name on this phone
No, I would not recommend this to a friend.”
This was an informative comment that might make a difference to a buyer.
Best Buy has been working on BestBuyOn since 2009, building up editorial resources of its own and involving media buyers and potential advertisers in the process. Besides the website, BestBuyOn is “broadcasting” its content on screens inside its stores, giving potential partners the chance to advertise their particular products to potential customers on the site of their purchase. There are about 145 thousand screens in the stores, plus the ability to advertise to millions of BestBuyOn.com customers. Ultimately, according to Keith Bryan, the senior director of media strategy for the new business, between 100-150 screens per store will be showing the content.
So far, Bryan told Ad Age, several advertisers have joined the effort, including Tide, Duracell, Braun, Swiffer, along with traditional vendors like Canon and Sony.
Besides user-generated product reviews, the network presents a lot of broad array of content giving readers knowledge about technology and its impact. There is a video feature on the website, for example, that goes behind the scenes of an animated feature to show how animation is done
They are also doing a significant amount of reporting in advance and during the Consumer Electronics Show opening now in Las Vegas. This is the kind of content a viewer would generally expect from any media outlet, and Best Buy is betting that the consumer is willing to believe that Best Buy would be a trust source of information from an event showcasing electronics products.
Bryan claimed to Ad Age that nearly every advertiser that has tested the network has decided to come back. He says that their users are engagement as much as 10 times more than they are on other media publishing networks. The company also says that between its stores and website, it touches users a billion times a year.
The fact is that even though Best Buy is trying to offer general information, and staying out of the controversial areas like specific product reviews, it has become a competitor to existing media companies. But in today’s world, do they have a choice?
Even though they don’t review products, they let their customer do it, and that is even more important to their viewers. While they clearly have economic interests behind their efforts, they also have a public willing to accept that they are experts in the field and their knowledge is valuable and interesting.
More importantly, this puts them directly in control of where their content is available to consumers. If you believe, and I do, that all the new technology has created, and is creating, new platforms where consumers are spending more time, then a multichannel strategy allows the retailer to continually adjust where and how it reaches those consumers. Best Buy simply must follow the habits of its users in real time, and this kind of strategy gives them that kind of information in real time.
As to the content, in order to engage their readers they have to give them quality content worth reading or viewing. By doing so, they are also creating the right environment for advertising partners to step in.
“I don’t know that all brands can aspire to be a media outlet that’s relevant to the agency community, Bryan told Ad Age. “But multichannel brands that have footprint physically and digitally…could be (creating) one of the most important forms of new media in the next 10 years. Customers expect us to have a point of view. If the only way we can do that is in a 30-second spot or a Sunday (newspaper) free-standing insert, then we’re screwed.”