The age-old tension
The tension between the long-term and the short-term has always been one that marketers and communicators have had to grapple with.
We’ve long observed and bemoaned the tension that exists between the corporation’s short-term reporting practices, performance goals and incentives, and the fact that branding’s biggest rewards are realized over the long-term.
Many of us will have raised an eyebrow at the discrepancy between the average time spent in a marketing role and the time required to see financial payback on marketing communications.
We’ve all had to try to reconcile the tension between a consumer and pop culture environment characterized by speed, novelty, and fad, and the need to build and sustain long-term memory structures.
And of course we’ve all from time to time encountered the tension that exists between the need to build and sustain those long-term memory structures, and the impatience and occasional fickleness of creative imaginations.
The risk of digital immediacy
The tension between the long-term and the short-term is an old and familiar one. But the lure of the short-term is now being exacerbated by the possibilities of digital interactions.
The glory and thrill of all things digital for normal people in the real world is (amongst other things) that they make things immediate.
Immediate communications. Immediate information. Immediate answers. Immediate purchasing. Immediate feedback. Immediate consumption. Immediate gratification.
But when it comes to marketing communications, these digital interactions and the new forms of marketing communications they enable, bring real and enormous risk if not managed well.
For digital interactions encourage a prizing of immediacy and a thinking in the short-term that is fundamentally at odds with how branding builds real, significant, and sustainable growth for businesses.
Digital immediacy brings with it immediacy of data. Whether it’s views, likes, shares, +1s, pins, comments, tweets, retweets, downloads, linking, following, clicking… however measured, that data invariably measures people’s exposure to and interaction with communications content.
The lure of this data is not only that is it immediately available, but that by its very nature it is highly responsive to communications activity. It is relatively easy to track. And relatively easy to attribute it to communications activity.
But it is short-term data. And short-term data leads to short-term perspectives, short-term objectives and short-term strategies. As Heisenberg taught us, what you choose to measure is what you see.
Digital interactions have also made possible new approaches to connecting with consumers. Real-time responsiveness, ‘always on’ communications, ‘content marketing’, brands as ‘publishers… by their very nature all encourage, if not demand, real-time monitoring.
And with that comes the infrastructure of social media ‘command centers’, ‘dashboards’, monitoring tools, and all the new job titles that come with them.
Again the focus is on the Right Here, Right Now.
The necessity of long-term effects
But for all the opportunities that digital immediacy makes available to us, there is a very real tension between what it is possible to make, and what actually works. Between digital’s culture of immediacy and how communications actually grows a business.
This conflict between digital immediacy and long-term business-building was brought home to me recently on reading The Long And Short Of It – the latest report from the IPA. Published last week and authored by Peter Field and Les Binet this is the follow-up to Marketing in the Era of Accountability.
In The Long And Short Of It Field and Binet build on their last round of analysis, incorporating a wealth of new data. Most significant, is the new data on how campaign results develop over time, and the differences between short-term and long-term effects.
Their effectiveness data is derived from the IPA Effectiveness Databank – the product of 301 years of the IPA Effectiveness Awards covering more than 700 brands in over 80 categories. At the time of the analysis, the Databank held data from 996 campaigns entered into the biennial national and international effectiveness competitions from 1980 to 2010.
Never mind all the fashionable stuff that our industry trumpets and that populates the business sections of our bookstores. This is one publication that every marketer should have read.
It is worth briefly highlighting their key findings on the differences between short- and long-term effects. For they carry with them fundamental and indeed urgent implications for us all:
Long-term effects effects work differently from short-term effects
“The way in which long-term effects are generated is fundamentally different from how most short-term effects are produced. Although long-term effects always produce some short-term effects, the reverse is not true and long-term effects are not simply an accumulation of short-term effects.”
Long-term effects aren’t just built out of short-term effects
“A succession of short-term response-focused campaigns (including promotionally driven ones) will not succeed as strongly over the longer term as a single brand-building campaign designed to achieve year-on-year improvement to business success.”
Long-term effects work through both volume and margin gains
“Pricing improvements are more likely to drive profit growth than volume growth. Most profitable of all are campaigns that drive both volume and pricing… Their principle characteristic is that incremental volume is achieved whilst strengthening margin, in marked contrast to many short-term campaigns, where volume is achieved at the expense of profitability.”
Profit growth takes time
“Profit growth is a product of volume and pricing increases, so the pattern of profit effects over time is also gradual”
Long-term effects demand brand-building
“The optimum campaign strategy is radically different if success is measured over the short term versus the long term. Achievable short-term goals will be volume-based and favour a direct approach in which immediate behavioural triggers such as discount pricing, an offer or incentive, new product features or some other promotional event, are central. Longer-term goals such as share growth or reduction of price sensitivity favour a ‘brand-building’ approach in which the strengthening of the esteem of the brand is key.”
Digital immediacy versus brand building
For many of those counting social media metrics and short-term communications responses, as well as those advocating marketing programmes characterized by immediacy of interaction, these conclusions should make for some disquieting reading.
For profit growth isn’t achieved in the short-term. Nor indeed, is it built out of joining up of a series of short-term successes.
Views, likes, shares and all the myriad of other possible interactions with communications content count for naught unless they are shifting brand responses. As Byron Sharp has written, what matters are the long-term memory structures in the mind that branding builds, sustains, and refreshes.
Of course we want people to be exposed to and respond (emotionally and /or behaviourally) to our communications. But ultimately what matters are brand responses, not communications responses. And brand responses take time to build and shift.
What all this means is that digital content cannot escape the strictures and rigours of long-term objective setting.
By all means we should be asking ourselves how our marketing content will generate short-term conversation, social currency, sharing etc., and be monitoring it accordingly.
But we should also be thinking through how that activity will build, sustain, and refresh long term memory structures around our brand. Since it is that – not mere communication exposure and interaction – which is the engine of growth.
So when it comes to monitoring these brand responses, we should be evaluating them accordingly – over the long-term.
Certainly we should recalibrate all those costly tracking studies to report on brand responses on an annual basis, rather than pretend they are valuable as real-time monitoring tools.
Fighting the good fight
Resisting the temptations of short-term thinking and action has always bedeviled our industry. Surrounded as we are by the supply of immediate data, that task is harder today than it has ever been.
In Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, the novelist and cultural observer Douglas Rushkoff has argued that immediacy is more and more the central defining characteristic of our culture:
“Our society has reorientated itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real time, and always-on. It’s not a mere speeding up… It’s more of a diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now – So much so that we are beginning to dismiss anything that is not happening right n – and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is.”
The world of marketing it would appear, is not immune from this phenomenon. And however much hard work it might be, we must resist the gravitational pull of immediacy.
For marketing’s biggest contribution is felt in the long-term, not the short-term. Nothing that has happened in the last thirty years has done anything to overturn that truth.
However exciting it undoubtedly is, we cannot let digital’s immediacy take our eyes off that prize.
Les Binet & Peter Field, The Long And Short Of It: Balancing Short and Long-Term Marketing Strategies
Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now
Byron Sharp, How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don’t Know
I have a long way to go, but here is what I have learnt so far…
BUILD WHAT’S RIGHT
Living in a digital world, does not have to mean building digital ideas
Be rigorous about the role of all communications in the mix
Be suspicious of general theories – clients have specific, bespoke issues
Don’t believe in panaceas – there is no silver bullet
Stop saying: “Always on” / “It’s the end of campaigns” / “The richer the narrative the better” / “Utility is the future” / “It’s all about engagement” etc.
Start with the business issue, not the latest piece of fashionable rhetoric
IDENTIFY THE POINTS OF INFLUENCE
Know the consumer’s path to purchase before creating
What are the key moments?
Where are the points of influence, consideration, and decision?
Where and when do they happen?
Who and what else is involved?
Identify the tasks and likely touchpoints
JOIN THE DOTS
Create for a connected age
What’s the journey we want to take people on?
What does this idea begin with?
What happens next?
What’s the ultimate destination?
INNOVATE IN PAID MEDIA
Digital interactions don’t have the monopoly on innovation
Find new ways to use the old-media
Find new ways to use the paid-for platforms
Look for where the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ channels join and interact
Talk to the platform owners early about what’s new / possible (but be aware they’re trying to you sell something)
EXPLORE THE VARIED ROLES OF TV
It isn’t dead and it still works
TV doesn’t always have to act as the primary launch platform
TV can ‘re-broadcast’ consumer involvement online
TV as can act as a recruitment vehicle for other activities
Digital channels can act as teasers/prequels to TV
MAKE IT FINDABLE
There’s too much content and most people just aren’t that interested
Don’t rely on serendipity
Signpost and publicize what you make
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Most people don’t care as much as you do
Build as if you’re not the only one out there
Assume your audience is over-supplied and lazy
Don’t ask too much of people
Could your mum do it?
Reward people appropriately
And ask – “would I (really, truly, honestly) do it?”
Not everything has to be epic
Where and how can you nudge the consumer?
At what points in the consumer’s buying/decision-making process can your idea offer value or wield influence?
EXPLOIT THE POWER OF THE SPECTACULAR
Create for PR
Most online conversation is about stuff that happens in the real (non-digital) world
Embrace non-replicable experiences
Explore what you could do that guarantees an avalanche of media coverage
How could it manifest itself in the real, tangible, visceral world?
Create for the 10% who are highly involved
What influential audiences could act as ambassadors for this idea and what could you give them?
How can they participate?
How do you amplify that participation to the masses?
Create for the 90% who are broadly indifferent
Effective marketing is a game of scale
What you build doesn’t always have to be big
Small things can be amplified
But if it doesn’t somehow scale, it’s not marketing
And scale depends on people who don’t care that much
Create easy and lightweight interaction for the indifferent majority
Innovate in order to learn
Without purpose, ‘innovation’ will always struggle to get funding
Build controlled experiments
Build to generate data
And learn from it
REMEMBER WHAT HASN’T CHANGED
At heart, the art of being a good storyteller has not changed
Start with what people are interested in
Remember that while plays, gigs, shows, and movies have audiences, advertising does not
Assume that attention and interest is earned, not a given
Create by the words of Dan Wieden: “Just move me, dude”
Oh, and don’t work with assholes.
All additions welcome.
This morning the IPA is launching the 21st edition of Advertising Works - comprising the winners from the 2012 Effectiveness Awards. I was very kindly invited by the IPA to provide a few paragraphs to this latest volume on what we have to learn from these cases. These are they.
While some might have predicted (and perhaps even wished for) its death, for many good reasons – most notably, that it works – TV advertising isn’t going away. So it is not entirely surprising to see TV dominate these stories of effectiveness.
That said, while the ‘traditional’ and the ‘digital’ have at least in some quarters regarded each with suspicion (and occasionally outright hostility), in this latest collection of effectiveness stories, we’re seeing smart agencies and clients harnessing what happens when TV and digital come together. Crucially, for demonstrable commercial gain.
John Lewis for example, led its unlocking of the nation’s tear ducts with TV. However what might have been deemed a good ol’ fashioned campaign plan (and there’s nothing wrong with that) was deliberately orchestrated with an eye on social channels, with the advertising running in highly social programmes, i.e. those that generated a high amount of twitter conversation.
In contrast, Walkers led its bid to get us to eat more crisps at lunchtime with live events designed to produce on- and offline news content and conversation. Judicious use of TV both fueled the intrigue around these stories and joined the dots, revealing the story behind the news reports.
Examples such as these should encourage us to explore the whole spectrum and variety of TV/digital combinations.
Moreover, instead of the tired, clumsy, unhelpful blanket labels of ‘traditional’ and ‘digital’, they encourage us to be much more imaginative and specific in defining the role of different campaign elements in shaping people’s attitudes and behaviours.
Rather than just think of TV as being the primary vehicle that we ‘blow out’ in secondary channels, we can for example, think about TV:
as SIGNPOSTING… directing people to other destinations and interactions.
as IGNITION… for a longer experience or programme.
as FUEL… intensifying interest in content experienced elsewhere
as EXPLAINER… elaborating the purpose or motivations behind other interactions.
And we can get more specific about the contribution and role of digital interactions:
as PROPAGATING… giving people things to SHARE.
as INVOLVING… giving people things to DO.
as INFORMING… giving people resources that answer QUESTIONS.
as AMPLIFYING… giving people things to further EXPLORE.
as FULFILLING… giving people the means to turn their interest into PURCHASE.
‘TV’ and ‘digital’ are quite clearly not mutually exclusive opposites. The IPA’s own DataBANK has already demonstrated that campaigns that utilize both online and TV achieved a 10 per cent increase in effectiveness success rate. And with these cases we have yet more evidence for the power and (crucially) the effectiveness of ‘and’.
This feels like progress. Though as the ancient Sufi wisdom advises, “You think that because you understand ‘one’ you understand ‘two because one and one make two. But you must also understand ‘two’ ”.
Nonetheless, whichever end one starts at, the fact of the matter is that we’re still starting with channel bias. It is still a perspective that asks – what can digital add to TV? Or vice versa.
So perhaps it is time to erase the increasingly unhelpful distinction between ‘TV’ and ‘digital’ and focus on what really travels across platforms, channels and touchpoints – ideas.
These winners remind us that while they by no means have the monopoly on the outcome, digital interactions can help make our ideas properly three-dimensional ideas. That is, they can extend the physical and mental real estate an idea occupies in people’s lives, they can extend the life of that idea across time, as well as the depth it has:
And perhaps that’s the question we should be asking not of channels and touchpoints, but of our ideas. In other words what – in the light of the business challenge and audience – can we do to give our ideas more relevant Time, more Space and more Depth?
“I wouldn’t be surprised if you look back in 20 years time and say the Internet is the best thing that ever happened to your industry”
Eric Schmidt, Google
Listening to some commentators, one might be forgiven for thinking that the internet and TV are adversaries, that media is a zero sum game, and that the internet is ‘winning’.
The data however, suggests something rather different.
TV is healthy
It might be news (or at least denied knowledge) to some, but if there’s one thing we are sure of it’s that people still love TV.
With its Convergence Panel, Nielsen has installed both the People Meter that measures TV viewing in their National People Meter panel, and also the Nielsen Online Meter used to measure Internet usage. Nielsen’s panel shows that in the first quarter of 2012, US households spent 34 hrs and 7 minutes a week watching traditional TV.
This compares with:
5hrs and 47 minutes watching timeshifted TV
4 hours and 44 minutes using the interent on a computer
40 minutes watching video on the internet
10 minutes watching video on a mobile phone
Moreover, we are spending more time than ever with television:
Eurodata TV Worldwide, which has been gathering TV ratings from all around the world for more than 18 years, demonstrates year after year that TV consumption is growing: +1 minute in 2008 on average across 76 territories surveyed in 2008.
According to Nielsen Media Research, in 2007 the average amount of TV watched by US viewers in a month was 139 hours and 25 minutes. By 2009 this had risen to 145 hours and 2 minutes. An increase of 4%.
On average UK viewers are watching 10 minutes more broadcast TV per day than they were in 1997.
Perhaps indicative of our continuing love affair with TV is the fact that TV sets are getting bigger. According to the UK’s BARB, in 2005 just 8% were over 30”. By 2012 50% were 30”.
This should not come as a surprise. There are more means of distributing TV, more channels and arguably better content.
The internet is not killing live, linear TV
Deloitte’s 2010 Media Democracy Survey revealed that 83% of French, 74% of UK, 73% of Brazilian, 71% of Japanese, 69% of German, 61% of Canadian, and 57% of US viewers claimed to prefer watching their favourite TV shows live.
Again, this should not be entirely surprising. The pull of participating in shared viewing experiences has not disappeared. We still want to feel part of something that everybody else is engaging with. We want to be able to share and comment, rather then be left out. We are, as Mark Earls would put it, a ‘herd species’.
And thus when we look at actual time spent, we see that the vast majority of people’s TV consumption is still live:
While ownership of DVRs has reached around half of households in the UK, the amount of their viewing people actually time-shift has remained remarkably stable – about 15% of their TV time-shifted.
In that 15% of TV that is currently time-shifted, around 30% of it is still watched as though it is live. That is, the ad breaks are watched at normal speed rather than fast-forwarded.
The internet is expanding viewing
Three separate studies in 2006 showed similar results. BARB and Sky and London Business School together with ACB (through video observation of real DVR households viewing TV) demonstrated that:
Overall viewing is higher when a DVR is installed
That the majority of household viewing is of live programming
Most recorded content is watched on the day of transmission
Similarly, on-demand services such as the BBC’s iPlayer work to actually increase people’s loyalty to channels and programmes.
BBC’s iPlayer is now used by more than 10% of the UK population every week, with 573,000,000 views in the first quarter of 2012 – an increase of 24% over the previous year. And in the same period, there were 217,000,000 views of ITV Player (up 15% on the previous year), and 252,000,000 of 4oD (up 18% on the previous year).
According to Thinkbox, 78% of people who use catch up services do so to catch up or keep up with linear TV. Thus we see online viewing of TV programmes peak within a day of that programme airing on TV.
Indeed, putting old seasons of a show online can actually help with live TV ratings.
For example, after its 4th season, all the episodes of AMC’s Mad Men were put on Netflix. By the time Season Five had begun, 3.5 million people had watched Season 4 on Netflix and 800,000 had watched the entire series. The result was the two-hour premiere of Season Five, which came after a 17-month hiatus, was the most-watched episode in the series’ history, enjoying a 30% increase from the Season 4 premiere.
So the interent is encouraging us to watch more TV.
The internet is expanding consumption of advertising
While it was prophesied that DVRs would kill TV advertising, the majority of DVR homes actually watch more ads in real time than they did before they installed one.
Sky’s research for example, demonstrates that 30% of ads viewed on Sky+ are viewed live.
Moreover, there has actually been a steady increase in the average number of ads viewed per day in Sky+ households:
2006 – 35
2007 – 36
2008 – 37
2009 – 39
2010 – 44
2011 – 45
2012 – 44
Meanwhile, research conducted by Cog on behalf of Thinkbox demonstrates that the emergence of multi-screening is encouraging people to stay in the room and in so doing, expanding exposure to advertising. Thus:
81% of multi-screeners stay in the room for the ad break, versus 72% amongst non-multi-screeners
And while 29% of non-multi-screeners get up and leave the room or change the channel, during the ad break, just 19% of multi-screeners avoid the ad break
Far from pulling the rug from under advertisers, it would appear that in enabling more choice and better quality content the internet actually works to expand total TV viewing – and with it our exposure to advertising content.
The internet is co-existing with, not cannibalizing TV
Not only are we watching more TV, but as the penetration of connected devices rises, we’re also consuming more digital media, particularly via the mobile web:
According to ComScore, the average amount spent in the US on the internet was 18 hours and ten minutes. By 2009 this had increased 11% to 20 hours and 15 minutes.
Nielsen Mobile data shows us that in December 2007, on average people spent 43 minutes using the mobile web. By December 2009 this had risen 197% to 2 hours and 10 minutes.
However, if it were true that digital media were growing at the expense of television, then we would expect the heaviest users of digital media to be the lightest viewers of TV. But the data demonstrates that in fact the reality is quite the opposite.
Nielsen’s Convergence Panel data shows that heavy internet users are heavy TV viewers, and heavy TV viewers are heavy internet users:
Thus we see that the top 20% of home internet users surfed 87 minutes a day. They also watched on average 329 minutes a day of TV – 85.3 more minutes than non-internet users and 60.1 more minutes than the average home
The top 20% of TV viewers watched on average 639.4 minutes a day.They also spent on average 27.6 minutes a day on the internet at home - 8.5 more minutes the average home and 16.2 minutes more minutes a day than non-TV viewers.
Similarly, ESPN’s analysis of Knowledge Networks’ Multimedia Mentor (2009) looked at the quintiles of users by medium, and examined their average amount of time spend with other media.
Again, the finding was that heavier users of one medium tend to be heavier users of all media. For example, the heaviest user of the Internet also spends more time with each of the other mediums than the average user, and more time with media overall.
So if digital media consumption is not cannibalizing TV, what is happening?
The internet is adding a layer of interactivity to TV
The proliferation of connected devices is opening up a new behaviour – multiscreening.
And with this convergence of the TV and the internet – whether accessed through PCs, tablets or mobile – viewing experiences are becoming more interactive:
Nielsen’s Convergence Panel in the US shows that 58% of people multi-screened for at least one minute in 4th quarter 2009.
In the UK, according to the Touchpoints4 study (2011), 23% claim to use a laptop, mobile or tablet to access the internet on a daily basis while they’re watching on TV.
TV has of course, always been a social activity. And we continue to watch it together. In the UK the majority of TV viewing (around 70%) in the UK is shared viewing, and it appears to be growing as more viewing comes back to the main set, where of course most of the new TV technology is located.
And of course we don’t just discuss the programming. As the ethnographic footage from Thinkbox’s study ‘Screen Life: The view from the sofa’ vividly reminds us, people discuss the ads, the brands, previous experience of the products and the people in the ads. Viewing is participative – we love to share the humour, and point out our favourite ads when we watch them with others.
That said, this the proliferation of connected devices is adding another layer of sociability to TV content. We can share our opinions and comments beyond those in the room with us, and indeed with those beyond our immediate social circles. And we do this immediately, rather than wait for the water cooler moment the next day:
According to SecondSync, there are on average 750,000 tweets per day on mainstream UK TV channel
Monthly figures for Twitter posts about UKTV programmes, from April 2010 to April 2011, showed a clear upward trend with figures for April 2011 more than 200% higher than for the same month in 2010
The Touchpoints4 study shows that 9% of people in the UK claim to have interacted via social media after they’ve watched an ad.
Companion apps are facilitating this behaviour. Amongst the plethora of apps Zeebox for example, allows us to see what’s on now, what our friends are watching, what celebrities are watching, or rank shows by what others on Zeebox are watching. In addition it streams related tags linking to Wikipedia pages, songs, videos, websites, polls or to advertisers.
However, the average simultaneous user in the US spends very little engaged in multiscreen behaviour – averaging just 7.4 minutes per day. We can get over-excited about multi-screening behaviours. But the evidence suggests that it is for now at least, brief and lighweight.
The internet is adding a lean-forward layer to TV
Whether that demand is for more entertainment, more information, or actual purchase.
Research from Thinkbox reveals that 15% of people in the UK claim to have searched for requested more information on products or services online after they’ve watched an ad, while 8% claim to have bought or downloaded something after watching an ad.
Moreover, TV advertising not encourages people people to search, but appears to do so almost immediately.
For example, during NBC’s 2008 broadcast of the Beijing Olympics, Chevrolet’s Volt electric car was advertised on television for the first time. On August 8th 2008 when the ad was shown during the opening ceremonies, there was a more than a twentyfold jump in the US query volume for the phrase “Chevy Volt” on Google.com.
And of course these searches will happen even if the advertising is not actively encouraging them. For example, in response to its highly emotive (and effective) TV advertising, searches for ‘john lewis ad’ or similar vastly exceeded searches for ‘comparethemarket ad’ or similar.
The internet is expanding our media lives
However, despite the emergence and growth of multi-screening as a behaviour, the expansion of both TV and internet consumption cannot be attributed to multi-screening. For as we’ve seen, there simply is not enough simultaneous usage to account for all of the increase in the usage of all media.
While simultaneous usage is widespread (with 58% of Nielsen panelists conducting least one minute of simultaneous usage in 4th quarter 2009) the average simultaneous user spends very little time with this behavior, averaging just 7.4 minutes per day.
The conclusion must be that we are not witnessing convergence, but an expansion of our total media consumption.
And that perhaps – more that the emergence of multi-screen behaviours – represents the biggest cultural shift. For once our media time was bounded. Other than print, it was constrained by tethered devices. The TV set. the radio. We had to consume it at home.
With the explosion in mobile devices, those restrictions are evaporating. We can consume what we want, where we want, when we want.
And that perhaps demands a more rigorous, nuanced and insightful approach to content and channel strategy than simply reading the headlines in Mary Meeker’s latest report and claiming for example that just because mobiles are huge, everything we do should be “mobile first”.
Just because consumers are adopting one behaviour does not mean they are inevitably going to engage in another behaviour less. As they’re already demonstrating, people will use using different media platforms at different times and in different contexts and places for different purposes, selecting the best available device and screen for their location and needs.We’ll need to deconstruct these behaviours rather than make sweeping statements. We’ll need to be far better media anthropologists.
TV’s story is one of evolution and collaboration
Far from being eaten up by the internet, TV continues to be big, popular, enjoyed, sociable - and as an advertising vehicle, effective:
The IPA dataBANK has shown that campaigns that include TV advertising are more likely to increase share of market (SOM) at comparable levels of share of voice (SOV) compared with campaigns that do not use TV, gaining around +2 per cent more market share.
Not only are campaigns that use TV advertising more effective, but TV is actually becoming more effective over time. The IPA dataBANK shows us that during the 1980s, campaigns that included TV produced an average market-share gain of 6%. Data available since 2000 has shown that campaigns using TV have seen an average of 8.5% growth in market share.
And TV is evolving. For the consumer, it is now both linear and non-linear. It is becoming connected. It is becoming complemented by other screens. It’s acquiring a lean-back layer of interactivity. It’s offering new channels of sociability and conversation. It’s offering new layers of entertainment. And it’s acquiring a lean-forward layer allowing people access to satisfy immediately both their curiosity and their demand.
That said we should be careful in our predictions. Whether it’s doing the crossword or having sex, people have always done other entirely unrelated things while the TV has been on. So we should beware lest we assume that all this multiscreen time is interacting with what’s on the TV screen. That time will include checking e-mails, perusing our social networks, and all manner of stuff -from playing Angry Birds to anything from downloading porn to recipes – that is entirely unrelated to what’s happening on the big screen in the room.
That said, for both programme makers and advertisers, the presence of a additional screens means that new opportunities to add value are emerging – adding extra layers of content to both TV advertising and to the programming itself. During this year’s Super Bowl for example, on CokePolarBowl.com hosted within Facebook, Coca-Cola’s polar bears viewed and reacted to the game that was happening on the TV screen. 9 million people across various platforms checked in on what the polar bears were up to.
Companion apps and electronic programme guides could become a new canvas for brands. Synchronised advertising on companion apps might complement what is being shown on the TV. Advertisers might pay to have their content appear in electronic programme guide search results.
And while the promise of addressable TV is still in its earliest stages, we can be certain that connected TVs will deliver a whole new wealth and class of data to advertisers in which social network participation, online purchases and viewing habits will give marketers insight into the lives, behaviours and preferences of consumers.
So here’s a plea. Let’s stop with calling TV ‘traditional’. It suggests a medium mired in the past, out of step with consumer’s desires and with culture more broadly.
It’s nothing of the sort. It’s proving itself enduring, compelling, innovative and embracing of evolution.
As Eric Schmidt remarked in his MacTaggart lecture at the 2011 Edinburgh TV festival:
I think we’re on the cusp of a golden age now. A vast choice, made manageable by a magical guide, ensuring there’s always something wonderful to watch. The option to sit back or lean forward, to watch alone or chat with a community of viewers.
Grasping the bigger picture
We need experts and specialists across the whole continuum of consumer interactions.
But in advocating their relevance to the tasks at hand, we really do have to stop talking as if they were in competition with each other. Worse, as if there is some kind of moral hierarchy to the touchpoints, platforms, channels and devices at our disposal.
Rather than talk in zero sum terms, we’d be well served if we spent more time thinking about how people’s choices of screen and content interact, complement and enhance each other.
Decades ago, Stephen King provided us with a vision that most of us are still struggling to live up to and fulfill properly:
Marketing companies today… recognize that rapid response in the marketplace needs to be matched with a clear strategic vision. The need for well-planned brand-building is very pressing. At the same time they see changes in ways of communicating with their more diverse audiences. They’re increasingly experimenting with non-advertising methods. Some are uneasily aware that these different methods are being managed by different people in the organisation to different principles; they may well be presenting conflicting impressions of the company and its brands. It all needs to be pulled together. I think that an increasing number of them would like some outside help in tackling these problems, and some have already demonstrated that they’re prepared to pay respectable sums for it. The job seems ideally suited to the strategic end of the best account planning skills. The question is whether these clients will want to get such help from an advertising agency.
What agencies, and the account planners in them, would have to do is above all, demonstrate that they have the breadth of vision and objectivity to do the job; apply ‘how marketing communications work’ thinking and R&D to a much wider area; probably bring in more outside talent, from marketing companies or other fields of communication; make more efforts to ‘go to the top’ in client contact (the one great advantage of the various specialists); and make sure that they get paid handsomely for the work.
So we have a choice.
We can be self-interested partisans. We can labour under or peddle the belief that media is a zero sum game. We can parrot fashionable rhetoric – “mobile first”, “TV is dead”, “advertising is the cost of a bad product.”, etc. We can claim the decline of one medium simply to sell our own area of specialism.
Or can take King’s words to heart. We can be real partners to our clients. We can stop regarding media as a zero sum game. We can bring to bear specialist perspectives and skills but couple that with the breadth of vision our clients desire, but which their organizational structures can still make difficult to achieve.
And in as much as all creativity is born of an “and’, we can grasp the opportunities of a world that is characterized by plenitudes and ampersands.
Tess Alps and David Brennan, ‘Five myths about television advertising’, Market Leader, Issue 38, Autumn 2007Les Binet and Sarah Carter, ‘Mythbuster: Death of TV’, Admap, March 2010
David Golding, Helen Weavers and Paul Knight, ‘John Lewis: Making the nation cry…and buy’,Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, Gold and Grand Prix, IPA Effectiveness Awards, 2012
Dan Hagen, ‘TV budget optimisation: Maximise multi-screen audience response’, Admap, July/August 2012
Tim Jones and Tom Baxter, ‘A serious examination of the myth of TV viewing’, Market Leader, Quarter 1, 2010
Nielsen, The Cross Platform Report, Q. 1, 2012Jeremy Pounder, ‘Connected TV: The lucrative second screen’,
Admap, July/August 2012Geoffrey Precourt, ‘TV, advertising and the iPad: insights from ABC’, Event Reports, ARF Re:think, April 2012
Horst Stipp and Dan Zigmond, ‘When Viewers Become Searchers: Measuring the Impact of Television on Internet Search Queries’, Admap, February 2010
Thinkbox, ‘Screen Life: The view from the sofa’, Media Research Group conference, 2012