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Marketers Look for Ways to Communicate With an Increasingly Elusive Audience That Wants It Their Way and on Their Terms

January 05, 2006


Traditional television advertising has turned a corner with the realization that a high percentage of viewers are changing channels or stepping away from the set during commercial breaks at an alarming rate. Of those that stay, most are so bombarded with marketing messages being pushed on them that it has become the challenge of the decade to make the message count.

Will television advertising go away? Probably not anytime soon, but companies are looking for new solutions. The broadcast solution that has worked so well to build brands in the past is still where their comfort level is. However the realization that advertising through this medium is a costly solution that has lost it's effectiveness with measurement difficult at best, has left many companies floundering with a "what do we do now" question foremost in their minds.

As Seth Godin discusses in his latest book, Purple Cow, the vast array of choices in any given product category coupled with a consumer that is bombarded with messages and an increasingly short attention span, has changed the marketing landscape forever. "Imagine how much fun it must have been to be the first person to market aspirin," Godin writes. "Here was a product that just about every person on earth needed and wanted. A product that was inexpensive, easy to try and immediately beneficial. Today a quick visit to the drugstore turns up. more than a hundred products to choose from." Godin goes on to discuss today's climate for new products in a saturated marketplace and the difficulty in just getting someone to listen to your pitch. Today's consumer is smart, savvy and skeptical. They are an elusive audience that wants it their way, on their own terms and they have choices.

Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts, in his Ad:Tech keynote speech states that the advertising business has become a place where "there are no rules, there are no formulae, there is no best practice and nobody has a clue about how to effectively market products to the masses."

So if all bets are off, what are marketers to do? The stakes are high. "Next year communications spending [in the marketing industry] will go past a trillion dollars," Roberts continued. "We'll spend a trillion bucks on communications in all its forms. Most of that trillion is money down the toilet that's completely wasted .consumers are just letting it go wang! wang! wang! right past them. They don't care."

S peaking at the Internet Advertising Bureau's Engage Conference in London this past fall, Bill Gates declared "the future of advertising is the Internet." The numbers are proving Gate's theory, with Internet ad spending up 26% in the first quarter of '05 as compared to one year earlier. More than $2.8 billion was spent online in the beginning of the year, and continues to increase as broadband connections in the U.S. surpass the 50% mark.

The Internet has simply revolutionized communication, and personalized marketing is fast becoming a reality. The greatest impact is in the real-time dialogues that the medium offers. New technologies allow marketers to touch their audience within a permission based arena, and deliver their message with greater impact. Getting helpful customer insight and feedback has never been easier. In fact when done correctly, consumers are seeking out advertisers rather than the opposite. Push is turning to pull, and the interactive nature allows for communication to be two-way. From on-demand, interactive programs to video ads and RSS feeds, the convergence of technologies and the ability to deliver content to an increasingly mobile user make the landscape very exciting.

Measurement is also one of the primary benefits available to marketers in today's online environment.  Until now, brand equity and creative impressions have been difficult to measure, with companies spending millions of dollars, only to feel like they were shooting blindly. With sophisticated click through and impression tracking that goes beyond site analytics and single-medium reports marketing executives can now receive the data to quantify performance across sales and marketing, translated into useful reports that contribute to business intelligence and the proo f of ROI.  Marketers can know who's watching, when they're watching and for how long, and are even able to identify cross-channel correlations, utilizing predictive modeling that enables breakthrough insights about customer behavior and purchase patterns.


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