For years, marketing and new media pundits have fretted that traditional advertising channels -- and television in particular -- were fast becoming irrelevant. As it turns out, TV ads still perform in a two-screen world.
In his 2007 book Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin wrote extensively about the "death of Old Marketing" (i.e., television ads selling "average stuff to average people") and called out marketing departments for being "stuck in 1964." Godin went on to argue that companies not only need to work with the "New Marketing" of social media, but also must fundamentally alter their business plans to accommodate a global shift from TV advertising, if they hoped to survive and thrive in the age of social networking.
Godin's points about the problems of mixing old with new are well taken, and his book is filled with good ideas. However, his four-year-old prediction of the death of Old Marketing is not looking terribly accurate, according to a survey conducted this past summer by the Association of National Advertisers.
In its survey of 135 client-side marketers, the ANA found that most television advertising budgets have either held steady (30 percent) or risen (47 percent) in the past two years. Only 23 percent of TV ad budgets decreased.
More importantly, 82 percent of respondents said their television advertising ROI has either held steady or increased.
Of course, some still worry about television. In particular, 57 percent of marketers voiced concern about vying for the attention of multitasking audiences who surf the Web while watching TV. A recent Nielsen study confirms that a majority of Americans still do so. The study further showed that 42 percent of tablet owners and 40 percent of smartphone owners use their device while watching TV every day.
As it turns out, that dreaded multitasking may be keeping people engaged -- allowing viewers to learn more online about what they see on TV. Networks have started to take advantage of that fact this year, blending Old Marketing and New Marketing. In January, ABC launched a Grey's Anatomy iPad app designed to enrich the viewing (and advertising) experience while people watch the show. Programs rich in product placement, such as Survivor and Project Runway, actively encourage live tweeting (replete with their own hashtags) by their viewing audience.
"This survey has shown that TV advertising is very much alive -- perhaps even more so than in the past," said Bill Duggan, group executive vice president of the ANA. "Even with the risk of competition from other media platforms... there are still many opportunities for marketers to optimize TV into their marketing mix."
None of this is to denigrate the effectiveness of social media campaigns and other modes of Internet marketing. The fact that people are engaging online while watching TV merely demonstrates the indispensability of both platforms, not the superiority of one over the other.
The marketing landscape has dramatically evolved over the past several years, but television isn't dead yet. Or, if it is, nobody has told the consumers.
– Joe Stanganelli is a writer, attorney, and communications consultant. He is also principal and founding attorney of Beacon Hill Law in Boston.
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