Behold The Power of the Pixel
By Lawrence M. Kimmel, CEO, Direct Marketing Association
January 23, 2012 Last week, something amazing happened again. The power of the pixel demonstrated its influence. Two bills in Congress that were being considered for test votes SOPA and PIPA suddenly lost sponsors and momentum.
As anyone in our industry knows by now, a rousing movement last Wednesday, led by Reddit, Google, Wikipedia, and others, staged a unified boycott protest against the SOPA and PIPA legislation, shutting down or dramatically censoring their sites and showing how the pixel and its ability to activate consumers can dramatically affect change.
According to Wikipedia, more than 162 million people saw its blacked-out home page and more than eight million looked up their local US representatives to contact them using the simple tools provided. Even if more than 90 percent of those users who were concerned enough to go this far then dropped off, this represents an absurd inundation of phone calls and emails that were directed at House and Senate members Wednesday. By the end of the day, several members of Congress reversed their decisions to support the legislation.
While influencing policy at a grassroots level is not new, this effort to galvanize consumers with lightning speed to influence the US legislative agenda is new.
While unleashing the power of social media from the ground up is happening frequently with the Arab Spring being the shining example harnessing the power of the pixel on a coordinated basis from the top down, with thousands of sites leading the way, is news.
While finding a solution to complicated issues is occurring all the time and protecting intellectual property and the information economy is critical broad scale consumer involvement in this particular issue made news.
But what is the news for marketers?
The news is: Relationships really matter. Brands like Google, Wikipedia, and Reddit that are fundamentally shaped by their users' participation have a strategic advantage. The leaders on this issue were able to leverage millions of relationships to spread a complicated message very easily.
What some still call new media is no longer new. But, it has created a New Media Compact. This compact states that the optimal relationship between consumers and powerful brands must be just that -- a relationship. Brands shaped through a dialectic process infused and informed by consumer behavior are hard to beat. And brands that can effectively harness the power of the pen and the power of the pixel can be unstoppable.
Relationship marketing is not new. At DMA some members of our community have been practicing it for over one hundred years. Yet last week, in a matter of hours, the strategic advantage of really powerful brand/consumer relationships was self-evident.
So whats the net takeaway?
While all men are created equal, all relationships are not. The power of the pen changed the world. The power of the pixel in the hands of those with strong consumer relationships -- is doing it again.
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