TV Central in Mixology of Multimedia

Mar 2, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Are you a media multitasker?
You are if you need to watch the TV news at the same time you read a newspaper. Or if you can’t drive your car without checking e-mails on your BlackBerry. Or if you’re compelled to surf the Net on your laptop while you’re on the phone.
Gary Drenik, president of BIGresearch, says 41.2% of people who watch television commercials are surfing the Internet simultaneously. “Consumers seem to be seeking information from digital platforms, while TV has traditionally been viewed as a brand-building medium,” he adds.
Why are we doing this to ourselves? Another recent study from the folks at BIGresearch, called the Simultaneous Media Survey, says the only way people can keep up with the amount of media pumped into their world is to blend their own “media mix” and monitor several media sources at once.
Mr. Drenik says, “Media that can target, be timely and deliver value to consumers, such as coupons/direct mail, radio, Yellow Pages, newspapers and newspaper inserts, all increased in influence to purchase as consumers are looking to stretch budgets in a slowing economy.”
What about television? Although television has proven itself to be the world’s finest brand-building medium, its awesome power to drive high frequency of message and measurable sales and profits for advertisers is often overlooked.
Used properly and consistently, television trumps all media, new and old, in generating massive immediate retail consumer response. If television were only a branding medium, then politicians would not spend tens of millions of dollars on TV ads to quickly influence opinions just prior to an election. If television were just a branding medium, then the iconic Macy’s One-Day Sale would not be part of our national vernacular. No, television is much more than a branding medium; TV builds sales and profits. But there is a real discipline to it all.
So when the economy cools, why don’t all advertisers run to television instead of printed coupons and direct mail? Simple: Many marketers think of television as a great brand-building medium but not as a good tool for helping to build immediate and measurable market share.
We think that’s just plain wrong.
Consider this: Coupon redemption rates have plummeted as female consumers balk at the prospect of clipping a coupon to save 25 cents on a can of hairspray. With 60% of American women working full-time, it seems her time is better spent on activities other than clipping printed coupons from the local newspaper.
Next, direct-mail return rates have declined from 2% to just under 1%, a cataclysmic drop. We feel this is a result of the consumer getting better at using the Internet and thereby less influenced by direct-mail pieces. The Internet has created a commonly held belief that free information about any advertiser is easy to find. This knowledge has significantly impacted the “Wow!” effect of direct mail sent to the home. Why read direct-mail pieces when all you want to know about buying anything is on that business’ Web site?
Also, since television is ranked as one of the top influencers in triggering an online search, it makes sense that television and the Internet are moving into one appliance. The Internet has created a blur in the traditional retail shopping patterns, thereby affecting the rational retail buying windows.
During the 1970s, car-buying consumers shopped up to four dealerships before buying. In the 1980s that number of dealerships shopped declined to three, and in the 1990s the number of stores shopped dwindled further to just over two. Today, many car buyers shop just one store before buying.
Delayed Effect
I remember when we could air a television commercial for a big-ticket-merchandise retailer and that very day retail outlets would buzz with store traffic. Now, because of the Internet, interested consumers spend some time on the advertisers’ Web site and may also surf related blogs before actually using their valuable shopping to visit the physical store. So today a delayed effect to a television campaign can be expected.
We need to give the consumer time to do their homework on your business. Assuming you pass the “Web preview,” they will phone you and set an appointment to shop.
“Unfortunately for marketers faced with the challenges of an uncertain economy and the need to increase marketing ROI, new-media options are impacting how consumers use traditional media,” Mr. Drenik says.
If you buy into what he is saying, then you need to look at old media and new media as just plain media. And the real world demands that advertisers use a new cocktail of electronic media tools to help turn around lagging sales.
Since Nielsen reports that the average American consumer spends a total of 5½ hours a day between television and the Internet, the solution is right in front of us.
That solution is high-impact levels of targeted sales promotion with a retail ad that drives immediate sales, married to Internet tools including, but not limited to:
Media partner Web banner ads;
Topic blogs;
Limited paid search;
Free “how to buy” information on your own Web site.
All of these elements combined interrupt consumers in the middle of their shopping pattern. This pleasant television commercial interruption effectively deflects “now” buyers to your business. Let the other guy get the window shoppers; you want serious buyers ready to buy now.
Bottom line: Consumers don’t want to work so hard anymore for information about how to buy from you. Make it easy for consumers to buy and they will reward you with a purchase.
Adam Armbruster is a senior 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.


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