Traditional Media is Not Dead

Much has been written lately about the imminent demise of traditional media-newspaper, TV, and radio. While it's true these industries are suffering, I'm not ready to recommend that all of our clients' marketing budgets be shifted to Facebook campaigns just yet. The business of marketing is changing fast, but right now, in the trenches, there is still no better way to consistently reach large numbers of potential customers than advertising in traditional media, particularly for local advertisers.

"Nobody reads the newspaper anymore" and "most people skip through TV commercials using their DVR" are a few of the "facts" thrown out at a recent presentation on social media advertising I attended. It's true that fewer people are reading newspapers made of dead trees (as opposed to online), but fewer is not the same as nobody. And even that depends on your demographic. If you're trying to reach older people, newspapers work great.

As far as DVRs killing TV commercials, recent studies show that's not so bad after all. It seems that viewership of commercials is higher among DVR users simply because DVRs increase the time spent watching TV. Viewers who might otherwise have missed their favorite show now watch it later. This offsets to some extent the trend of commercial skipping.

I thought satellite radio would be a serious threat to local radio, but I was wrong. Radio is still strong and continues to be an effective and affordable way for local marketers to establish a presence and get their message into people's heads.

My point is, at worst, the data on traditional media is mixed.

I'm Not Telling You to Buy Stock

Don't confuse the media companies' long-term business outlooks and their ability to offer effective advertising solutions in the short-term. Several media pundits, notably Bob Garfield (see The Chaos Scenario), prognosticate a coming tipping-point where the numbers reach such a low point that large advertisers pull out of traditional media in mass. This will, according to the scenario, bring about rapid collapse of the media industries. This may happen. It may not. But I think our media plans are safe for the foreseeable future.

An upside is that the media companies are negotiating rates. We have been able to reduce rates in some cases, or receive extra bonus coverage in others.

Traditional Advertising is More Effective

A recent study by consumer market research firm Yankelovich finds that ads running in traditional media like television are still "much more likely" to have made a positive impression with consumers than ads running in digital media. A few studies agree that ads that made an impression in traditional media were more likely to stimulate word of mouth than ads that made an impression in digital media. This is particularly true for TV commercials. Social media has the potential to connect more strongly with individuals (promoting a positive impression) but the same scale is hard to achieve.

The Buzz May Be a Little Ahead of the Curve

We've seen some tremendous successes in online and social media marketing, but for now anyway, new media marketing struggles to reach the same levels of consistent success. The new media buzz is almost overwhelming to us in the business, but much of it is generated by people who make a living generating buzz.

That being said, I certainly encourage businesses to take the dive into new media, even if just in a small way for now. Many online media techniques have the advantage that you get just a little toe wet and still get an effective return. In upcoming posts we will be sharing strategies for successful online and social marketing projects.

The possibilities offered by new media are compelling and we're doing more all the time. But advertising on TV, radio, print, outdoor, and direct mail will still be the largest line items in serious, balanced marketing plans for a while yet.


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