Tag Archives: media buying

Time for a change?

It’s the end of the year, and the economy hasn’t rebounded to where consumers feel like there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. Forecasts for 2010 call for more of the same, at least in the first six months or so. Some feel it will take years to shake off the dust of this recession.

So what does a marketer do heading into 2010? Budgets are tight. Accountability, ROI, and metrics are the buzzwords that matter.

In 2009, only two media categories showed gains: internet display ads, up 7 percent, and freestanding inserts (FSIs), up 3.9 percent. I understand both being up, since they’re measurable in terms of returns. The internet also gives an advertiser the ability to change copy frequently to find out what’s working. However, last I looked, the click-through rate for internet display ads was hovering just under 0.1%. That’s one click (and only a click) for every 1,000 ads served (it doesn’t even take into account what the clicker does when he/she gets to the site). And can someone, anyone, tell me the last banner ad they remember? I hate to say it, but the internet is the SAFE way to advertise. And I never expected to say that.

Change is in the offing. But what does that change entail? It entails thinking differently and altering behavior. It entails a different mindset. If your results are flat, and I’ve heard that flat is the new up, then you probably need to change. Contrary to popular belief, flat is NOT up. Flat means you’re in the same spot. And the real metric that counts is sales. Engagement is fine as long as you can generate a sale from it. When was the last time you heard a salesperson say, “My engagements were up last month, but my sales were flat”?

There’s a saying that drastic times call for drastic measures. While some may feel that drastic change is necessary, I think that small, significant changes can have very dynamic effects on a marketer’s approach. Maybe it’s a shift from one medium to another or into a medium you’ve not used before. It may be a shift in how you schedule activity, or it might be a more tactical shift to supporting only very select trade shows or conferences.

In any event it’s a change in how you approach things. There’s a lot of opportunity out there. But we need to change focus if we are to truly see those opportunities. One of the effects of this recession has been a paralysis of sorts on a marketer’s ability to be bold. And these times call for bold action. The time for the “safe” approach is past. Safe gets you “flat.”

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The Evolving Media Landscape Poses New Media Challenges

Recently, Media Life Magazine published a survey of media planners and buyers regarding their impressions of the current economic situation and its effect on the ad business, including the media landscape. These are the people on the front lines of the money exchange, so their opinions are interesting in light of the current climate.

Some highlights:

  • More than two-thirds (68 percent) feel that there’s still some way to go before the recession is over with, and most of those surveyed forecast that it’ll be sometime in mid- to late-2010 before the ad economy improves.
  • However, the improvement of the ad economy and the return of clients spending to pre-recession levels are two entirely different things, as evidenced by the response to the question, “When will we see a return to pre-recession spending?” Just over one-third (35 percent) feel that clients will get back in the groove by the end of 2010. The remainder feel it will be after the start of 2011, with almost one in four (22 percent) not expecting spending to return to pre-recession spending until after 2012.
  • With regards to what media will recover the ‘fastest’, one-third said the Internet, and interestingly, almost as many (28 percent) said broadcast TV.

But the most telling question dealt with the impact that the current economy is having on how industry experts plan and buy media:

  • Two-thirds (67 percent) see several changes, with the biggest being a continuing shift to less expensive, more accountable media.
  • Not quite half (45 percent) felt that this is the death knell for hard copy newspapers.
  • One-fifth (20 percent) felt that the recession would lead to a reduction in the influence of large media conglomerates.
  • Surprisingly, just under one-fifth (18 percent) felt that social media would be impacted negatively.
  • And another 18 percent felt that there would be little to no change as a result of the recession.

It’s the first point that resonates most strongly with media folks. We’re challenged by clients to use media that reaches and engages consumers. And what we’re seeing is that today’s consumers absorb information in a variety of ways from a variety of sources. Add to that the fact that consumers are becoming incredibly adept at multitasking, and you see the challenges. (A September 2009 Nielsen report indicates that more than half the population [128MM, or 56.9 percent] use TV and the Internet simultaneously.)

These challenges have a direct impact on generating what all clients seek:  a quantifiable return on their marketing investment (ROI).  At Kilgannon, we develop a customized scorecard which helps clients measure their ROI. Our process in developing each scorecard includes many of these factors:

  1. Tightly defined objectives (actionable and measurable)
  2. Concise strategies
  3. The willingness to use a variety of creative units/messages
  4. Inclusion of media that allow for measurement of hard metrics (e.g., clicks, average time spent, bounce rates, etc.) in the ROI scorecard
  5. Relevant copy/content that meets what customers expect from a product or service
  6. A willingness to test and change on a continuous basis
  7. Use what works and get rid of what doesn’t

Advertising and marketing have been directly impacted and changed by the economic situation, and there’s no indication that they’ll ever return to their pre-recession ways. Today, more than ever, the media planning and buying process has to include nimbleness and the ability to change on the fly among its primary traits.

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