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Too Soon to Give Up on Old Media

Jun 17, 2007  •  Post A Comment

I remember my grandfather teaching me an important lesson about business presentations. He said when he was in a room full of very smart people, all of whom were pitching him a big new idea, if he was the only one who did not understand the idea, he knew he was about to get fleeced. Only he didn’t use the word “fleeced.”
I thought about this comment recently when I was being pitched by an interactive agency on its “Total Media Solution” plan for a large auto retailer that did not include any mass electronic media. It had all of the supposed digital answers for us, but it could not point to a single successful implementation of the plan. I had a feeling I was about to get “fleeced.”
So many local search portals are out there angling for a share of local TV dollars, but do they forget it’s really the client’s final sales results that matter? All of the talk about demographic targeting and direct marketing often ignores the fact that where the consumer lives or works is a major factor in his buying decision. The “Internet factor” has affected the way consumers preview and finally purchase large-ticket items, including cars.
It is also interesting to note retailers are telling us their old ideal of having the best store location does not mean as much as it did 10 years ago, because in the mind of today’s consumers, “shopping” a store is as close as the nearest laptop. And we hear from car dealership owners that they’re shipping cars to buyers not just across the county, but across the country.
Last month we met with a large-volume Chevrolet dealership owner who was disappointed that the prior month he had made the decision to shift all of his spot TV spending to self-produced half-hour sales shows. He reasoned that since in the past his half-hour shows had proven to be so profitable, he would not need spot TV to reach the masses anymore. That’s when the trouble started. He immediately lost his status as No. 1 dealership in the region, landing in sixth place. It seemed he had been fleeced by the half-hour show producers telling him he could reduce his dependence on critical mass media and instead “target” only their high-profit half-hour shows each week.
You see, when you need to bring in lots of consumers, you still need to reach lots of people. No one, including the folks from Internet-based media, is smart enough to know where all of the buyers are all of the time. Critical mass-marketing always has brought, and always will bring, immediate and measurable impact. That’s why the Super Bowl is still the ultimate place to launch a new idea or product. Talking to 50 percent of the U.S. population in a Super Bowl ad ensures enough buyers will be reached to generate mass exposure and the predictable level of resulting sales.
We are receiving more client requests to change their television image from a local business to that of a regional player in their category of business. They know the Internet is bringing consumers from all points on the map, so they want to look bigger and be seen as an authority — even in niche industries.
So does the Internet’s influence mean we should all rush madly into keyword searching and abandon mass media? Of course not. But we also should remember that every new-media tool brings with it innovative ways to use that tool.
The owner of a large cosmetic surgery practice asked us to develop a breakthrough sales campaign. (Its previous print and online media campaign proved to be far too expensive for the sales generated.) We proposed a balanced use of local broadcast TV, keyword purchases, ads on the local station Web site and three well-placed billboards. We canceled all of the print, radio and Yellow Pages ads.
We also assigned duties to each medium. Local television was used to motivate patient desire for more information; the client Web site was used to educate the patient on what to look for in a cosmetic surgery practice; Google keywords were purchased to gather Web leads from the surrounding areas; and local billboards were used to localize the practice in specific high-net-worth ZIP codes.
The result was an immediate 30 percent increase in business that was so sudden we actually had to reduce the TV plan to allow for a reasonable turn-around time of new patients.
Achieving positive results like these requires the generation of critical mass that only a hybrid use of mass media and new media can attain. Relying on Web-only media simply would not generate sales leads fast enough for us to satisfy the demands of this large practice.
Local search firms are springing up everywhere to try to capture what Kelsey Group predicts will be a $13 billion industry by 2010; two years ago it was just $3.4 billion.
Today, geographically relevant business information content is king. And while local search media is great, it is not the ultimate solution.
Think about this: 30 percent of media consumption is online, yet online ad spending is still in the single digits. Perhaps the issue at hand is that local online outlets can be so fragmented that they lack the critical mass necessary for focused advertisers. The solution? Layer local television over these Web media tools.
As we move forward in this digital media revolution, let’s not leave behind the proven old-media weapons that made us successful marketers in the first place. After all, would anyone know who GoDaddy. com is without first seeing its Super Bowl ads?
Adam Armbruster is a partner with Red Bank, N.J.-based retail and broadcasting consulting firm Eckstein, Summers, Armbruster & Co. He can be reached at adam@esacompany.com or 941-928-7192.
Sources: NSI, ESA&Co., AD Tech 2007, ARB, NAA 2007, Kelsey 2007.

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