Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
Deloitte & Touche published a research study last week that essentially proved that “old media” (their words) still works. As with most research, you can punch holes in this study if you are so inclined, but that’s not really the point. The point is … why are we all so defensive? Traditional media folks are sometimes threatened (as evidenced by the fact that this study even exists) by the tsunami of new media options available to clients today. But it’s not all one sided. New media folks sometimes have a Napoleon complex and don’t trust that they’re getting their “fair share”. Can’t we all just get along?
There’s room for both. We’ve gotten into this mess because it’s basically a zero sum game. Clients’ budgets aren’t increasing (not much, anyway) and there are more options to consider than ever before. Also, there’s research out there that tells us that the channels that we’ve been using in the past aren’t as effective as they once were (declining ratings, circulation losses, etc). Yet media costs continue to rise. These factors make clients want to know what else is out there. They want to know if there’s a better way to reach, engage, and communicate with their current and potential consumers. It’s a natural question. Studies such as the D&T one referenced above make their authors or presenters come off as if they have their head firmly planted in the sand.
I don’t dispute their findings, just the way they are presented. Is traditional media still effective? Of course it is. Is it as effective as it was 20, 15, 10 or even 5 years ago? Probably not. Consumers have changed. The media landscape has changed. I don’t think that anybody would dispute those statements. But to see a study like this makes me think of the band playing on the deck of the Titanic. It doesn’t even acknowledge the elephant in the room.
On the other side of the coin, you have the aforementioned tsumani of new media options. How many of them scale? Are they an adequate replacement for the status quo at this moment in time? Some are, maybe. Many aren’t. Let’s take Second Life as an example. Over the past year, brands have been tripping over themselves to set up a presence in the popular virtual world. Many of those places are ghost towns with a quantity of visitors that you can count on one hand at any particular moment in time. But there are success stories as well. The American Cancer Society held a virtual Relay for Life in SL and raised over $150,000. That’s real money and an amazing success story. But how does it translate to marketing for big brands? That question is largely unanswered. But the only way to get an answer is to experiment. That’s why I don’t throw stones at any of the brands who took a shot in SL. At least they have learnings to act upon. Which is something that they wouldn’t have had if they just dusted off last year’s media plan.
There is no cookie cutter answer. Both camps have warts. Both can also generate positive results for clients. It doesn’t have to be one Vs the other. Now hold my hand and sing … “I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony …”