Paul M. Banas on Consumer Insights, Marketing Research, and the Digital Media Landscape
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Category — Media

The Premature Death Of Traditional Media

Traditional media has been taking it on the chin recently, with newspapers fading into irrelevance and TV effectiveness plummeting.

As this clip from Microsoft shows (hat tip to Joe Pulizzi), traditional media just doesn’t seem to get it:

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Which is why reading “Traditional Media Not Dead Yet For Marketing” in the New York Times was all the more interesting to me.

According to a study of 16 types of media conducted by Yankelovich, in association with Sequent Partners, when consumers were asked what kind of an impression a particular type of ad made, 56 percent of survey respondents said traditional media ads made a positive impression, in contrast to 31 percent who said that about digital media ads.

Additionally, thirteen percent of viewers reported a negative impression of traditional media ads versus 21 percent for digital media ads

The main explanation is that in mediums such as print or TV, people are experiencing advertising when they are relaxing, versus most of the digital advertising they see that occurs when they are actively trying to do something else (searching for something, communicating, etc.).

As J. Walker Smith, president at the Yankelovich Monitor division of Yankelovich in Atlanta, explains:

“When I’m tracking down information or looking for an answer or trying to compare things or searching for a link, ads are irritating to a degree not true when I’m relaxed and unwinding with TV or a magazine and thus more open to diversion.”

However, this generalization makes universal sense only if you assume that the future of digital advertising is pop-up ads.

In reality, the more effective forms of digital advertising are based on engagement and providing something worthwhile for consumers, all in the context of a branded environment.

Whether it is Alternate Reality Games, what You Tube is doing with buzz marketing, or how Nike is building active communities of users, the sophistication and effectiveness of digital marketing is increasing daily.

Traditional media is certainly not dead. It’s still very effective today in exposing a wide range of consumers to a simple, common message.

However, believing that the future of marketing is still the 30 second spot or the full page print ad is a bit like believing vinyl records are the next big thing for the sagging music industry.

June 20, 2008   1 Comment

Is Online Video Ready For Primetime?

Are people ready to give up their traditional television viewing habits and spend significant amounts of time with the emerging technology behind online video?

These numbers from eMarketer certainly indicate rapid household penetration growth of online video, with at least 50% of US households expected to watch online video in 2008, up from less than 20% four years ago.


However experimenting and watching a YouTube clip here and there is one thing, but truly replacing significant amounts of television usage is something else entirely.

Michael Estrin at iMedia Connection has done some informal qualitative research to see if online video is ready for primetime, by gathering together a small group of twentysomethings who weren’t heavy online video users, then showing them some examples of different online video services, and then discussing their merits and shortcomings.

Here are some key insights from the discussions:

Expectations for online video are low (the YouTube effect)

With its buffering and the amateurish quality of most of the content, YouTube doesn’t fit with what people are looking for from long time frame entertainment:

“If I want to be entertained, I sit down on the couch,” says one participant, “this other stuff [short clips on YouTube] is just for killing time at work.”

Response is better with more professional sites that feature professional quality content (such as Joost)

While sites such as Joost have better quality content and a more technologically sophisticated interface, the lack of more popular TV shows and videos is disappointing:

“We open the Comedy Central channel and disappointment sets in. ‘It’s got everything you don’t want to watch,’ Todd says.”

The television advertising that was hidden by Tivo is now back

Other sites such as Veoh have some of the more popular shows available, however to people accustomed to using DVRs to skip ads, viewing pre-rolls was a disappointment:

“I could just as easily watch this on TV without the ads because I have TiVo”

In the end, while participation and interest in online video is certainly increasing, its ability to garner significant amounts of viewer’s time is still being constrained by expectations and technology. Michael Estrin summarizes it this way:

“There’s something terribly basic about TV from a user perspective. You watch the show, the ads come on, you go get a snack, and you watch the rest of your show. But while internet video may look a lot like TV (assuming the content and the quality make their way to the computer screen), the advertiser/user relationship is something quite different.”

While this could all change with media providers moving beyond dabbling and getting serious with online video, people probably won’t be getting rid of their television sets any time soon.

February 21, 2008   7 Comments

Whatever You’ve Learned About Advertising Is Now Probably Wrong

From this January 18th article in Businessweek, a quote from a recent McKinsey Consulting report gave me a significant pause:

“Traditional TV advertising will be one-third as effective in 2010 as it was in 1990.”

I had to read that again.

Then I Googled the entire quote, and pulled up some more conclusions from the same study, this time from Marketing Vox:

“According to McKinsey, real ad spending on prime-time broadcast TV has increased over last decade by about 40 percent even as viewers have dropped almost 50 percent.

The Businessweek article goes on to show how just about everything that today’s CPG marketers have learned in their careers to effectively market their brands is rapidly becoming obsolete.

Media fragmentation, the rise of web based entertainment, and the drastically different media consumption patterns of young consumers are all significant factors.

Most traditional marketers have heard that the future of advertising is a two-way conversation, versus talking at consumers one-way. Most have also heard about the growing importance of word-of-mouth, engagement and viral advertising.

But if McKinsey is right in their forecast, these “emerging” techniques and forms of advertising will be anything but emerging in a couple of years.

In fact, they may be the only things that work.

January 28, 2008   2 Comments

Nike and Engagement Advertising

One of the biggest buzzwords in advertising over the past year or so is engagement, and this is especially true for digital advertising. Engagement in advertising relates to an ads ability to foster some form of interaction with a consumer, either with the ad itself or with other consumers in a branded environment.

The theory being that if a brand engages with a consumer in a meaningful way, they are more likely to develop strong emotional bonds with the product or service, which is something that doesn’t happen when a consumer mutely watches or reads a traditional form of advertising.

One of the best examples of engagement advertising today is what Nike is doing with Nike+ and social networking. Nike+ is a small sensor in running shoes that connects to an Apple iPod. After a run, the runner docks his iPod into his computer and uploads details about his run to a social networking site run by Nike, where the runner can then interact with other runners, get encouragement, and provide advice to others.nike_logo_sm.jpg
All of this in a Nike branded environment.

This program has been such a success for Nike, that it is shifting its media weight from traditional, non-engaging forms of media such as TV, to programs such as Nike+. In this article from the New York Times, Nike marketing VP Trevor Edwards bluntly states:

”We’re not in the business of keeping the media companies alive,” Mr. Edwards says he tells many media executives. ”We’re in the business of connecting with consumers.”

And Nike+ seems to be a very effective way to do just that.

January 17, 2008   2 Comments

New York Times as Web Juggernaut

Who would have thought that the top news content producer in digital media is a publisher that started doing business in 1851 and is known as the “Gray Lady” for its staid reporting style and conservative temperament.

Thanks to some numbers on TechCrunch, we can see that the New York Times is the undisputed titan of internet readership by a wide margin, growing 64% from August through October, with 7.5 million readers added following its discontinuation of Times Select. However, even before that, it was clearly the leader in web news.

Consumers may like the “New Media”, but that doesn’t mean that the “Old Media”content providers are completely out of the picture.

December 11, 2007   No Comments