I read a blog post a few days ago that gave voice to something I believe a lot of new media types—especially those with little or no mass media experience—are thinking: that traditional marketing channels do not work any more.
The author of the piece is Brian Carron. You can find his article here. In it, Brian talks about how mass media as an advertising channel has run its course, and how consumers are so inundated with content and so pre-occupied with avoiding paid advertising that it is a fool’s errand to keep feeding the mass media “beast.”
Brian and many others who silently think along these same lines use undocumented generalities, personal anecdotes and a form of tortured logic to back up their theses.
They really owe it to themselves and their readers to take the time to review the research that’s been done to quantify effectiveness of mass media advertising. For example, in his article, Brian supports his claim that television advertising is no longer effective because, “…a lot of (DVR) customers fast forward through your expensive commercial.” Knowing that 44% of homes now have a DVR present, it’s easy to imagine Brian’s on to something when he portrays TV as a dying ad medium. Unfortunately, the facts don’t back him up. Recent studies by Nielsen, for example, show that 90% of TV viewing is still done live, and fewer than 1/2 (44%) of DVR users ever fast forward through commercials. Furthermore, whatever viewers have been lost via DVR and online views have been more than made up for by the fact that real-time TV viewership is UP 7% year/year.
Brian goes after other traditional forms of advertising too, and the facts don’t help him there, either. Radio listenership is impressively up. And while Direct Mail response has always been low, for most advertisers, response rates in the expected 1 – 2% range are the norm.
Overall, ad recall scores across all mass media are basically unchanged over 20 years.
But the new media types’ broadest generalization about advertising (that no one pays enough attention to it to remember it) was shot down by research done last year by Melanie Dempsey (Ryerson University) and Andrew A. Mitchell (University of Toronto). In essence, their study found that even when the consumer was unable to recall brand claims or even the brand name itself from advertising, he/she could very well been left with a subconscious positive feeling about the brand or product. One which he or she may not even be aware of, that often manifests itself in the form of product purchase. When Dempsey’s and Mitchell’s subjects were asked why they purchased brands they were unknowingly exposed to via advertising, the general response was “I like it, but can’t tell you why.” Follow this link to a summary of Dempsey’s and Mitchell’s study.
I’m sure the intentions of Brian and the multitude of others out there sounding the death knell of mass media advertising are pure. I don’t think they have an axe to grind. I think they truly believe that the Brave New World of Social Media is THE place to build a brand at the current time. If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ve no doubt figured out that I, too, am a fan of Social Media. Not to build a brand, but to amplify your strategy. To touch your customers where they spend their time. Where you can hear what they are saying and contribute to them in real time.
But trying to build a brand with Social Media without the reach and emotional appeals of mass media? That would be like trying to boil water with a flashlight.
It’s great that writers like Brian are willing to stir up a little controversy by “poking the snake.” But it would be nice if they did their critically-thinking readers a favor and relied on more than what they hear in the Social Media echo chamber.
Posted by Mickey