The following assignment was submitted by Ashby Brame for the media unit of my graduate Advertising & Promotion class (MKTG 6752). (You can also read more work submitted for this assignment by clicking on “The State of Media” under Categories.)
My freshman year of college I was determined to go into journalism. I had written in both my school and local paper through high school and I was determined to be a reporter. However, I soon determined that journalism jobs, and other opportunities in the industry, were quickly dwindling. According to the Newspaper Association of America newspapers across the country are seeing a decrease in paper subscriptions and a rise in digital and online subscriptions. In fact, only 44% of adults report that they read the newspaper on a current and consistent basis (Scarboro, 2012). Since 2003, print advertising revenue for newspapers has fallen by more than 50%, while digital advertising revenue increases (NAA, 2012). As newspapers go digital, so will their advertising; like many traditional forms of media, newspapers are striving to find a way to evolve in a highly technological world.
The necessity and value of traditional media
I think it is important to discuss ways in which traditional media is both still relevant. However, it is important in today’s media world that these forms of media find creative and innovative ways of competing with various other types of non-traditional media.
A traditional media form still alive and well is TV because it is one of the most interactive forms of advertising; it places ads directly into a consumer’s home with full sound and color. In addition, TV commercials can be highly segmented. If you want to reach a large number of American, middle-class consumers, buy ad spots during American Idol. If you want to reach hip, affluent, and impressionable young females, buy an ad spot during Gossip Girl. However, both online TV episode access sites like Hulu and recording devices like DVR are beginning to, and will continue to, have an effect on the amount of TV commercials watched by viewers. However, because TV commercials are so effective, advertisers are creating new ways to make them interesting and necessary to viewers in a hopes that they won’t fast-forward through them. For example, networks like the CW have created interactive viewing games likeCWingo in order to entice viewers to watch “in real time” and therefore place them in a better position to get exposure to ads. MARCOM initiatives like CWingo also help blend live TV with internet use in an effort to move consumers from one form of media to the next in an exciting an interactive way (Bentley, 2011).
Like newspaper, radio and magazine advertising can be both broad and geographically selective. However, as with most traditional media, all can be a very cluttered environment within which to make an ad stand out. Instead of viewing this as a threat, I think that advertisers should see this as an opportunity. Clutter challenges advertisers to be more creative in order to catch consumers’ attention. I think that this creativity, and a willingness to be innovative, will help traditional media maintain its value while also remaining a competitor in an advertising media landscape dominated by web media. One good example of this is the growing trend towards moving billboards, or LCD screen billboards. As of 2009 there are an estimated 900 throughout the U.S. already, and this number is expected to continue to grow (Ehret, 2009). Billboards, an often static traditional media form, can be more eye-catching if it moves. These large road-side screens also make switching ads and sharing ad space more convenient; which also makes it easier to keep your message within this media more current and relevant.
Taking note of both CWingo and moving billboard approaches to modern advertising, newspapers and magazines should look at the opportunities available within digital print media. Many newspapers and magazines are now read on PCs, smartphones, e-readers, and tablets. Making a digital newspaper ad more interactive and less static, with movement or live links brings a web-based advertising approach to a traditional media format.
Social Media—now and in the next 10 years
The last few years has seen a huge concentration in online advertising: YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, pop-ups, video ads, and search engine “paid search results”. However, advertisers have discovered that the internet is not a cure-all for marketing woes and it can be just as tricky to market effectively, if not harder, on the internet. Here is why. The internet has created a society that processes information at a frightening rate, has high expectations on the speed at which transactions occur, and perceives the amount of knowledge and resources available online to be endless. Therefore, to standout in the great World Wide Web community you have to match what your competitors are saying, but you also have to say it better and faster. Twitter has created a world in which businesses must learn to market in 140 characters or less- your elevator speech just got even shorter. I recently filled out a form that asked me to describe myself in five words, not sentences, words! Sometimes, that’s all you get.
But, is this conducive to marketing? Is marketing really effective if it passes before the consumer at the speed of light? As marketing evolves in the future, will it continue condensing until there is nothing left? What if, in the future, instead of shrinking message and media to fit the ever tightening attention span window of the average consumer, marketers worked to expand that attention span? If a miracle cream can reverse aging, then surely some savvy marketers can recondition people to pay attention longer.
MARCOM initiatives currently do this to a certain extent. Impeccably managing your various media messages can be like linking all your social media sites. For example, the emergence of the social media icon. Consumers see a character like the All Spice Man or Allstate’s Mayhem in a commercial. They can then proceed to that company’s website where they can watch more videos of this character. They can also then go from the website to the twitter feed where this character regularly tweets funny and interesting things and they can “follow” them. Now, not only have you brought consistency to your MARCOM effort, you have also given the consumer a reason to remain attentive to your product; you have effectively taken them from the commercial, to your website, and then to a social media tool that will help them stay exposed to your brand. You have stretched both the consumer’s attention span and your media capabilities!
In 5 to 10 years, I see much more of the above scenario happening. Ads will become more interactive within every medium, but this interactivity will be aimed at stringing consumers along from medium to medium in an effort to lengthen their attention span and exposure to the ad, product, and brand. However, this isn’t to say that ads will still not need to be both catchy and brief.
Holistic marketing- it all works together to achieve a single purpose
The type of advertising described above is very much a holistic approach to marketing in that it takes into account the whole of the marketing effort; the strength of a MARCOM effort isn’t in each individual part, or individual form of media, but in how they all work together to bring consumers to a product. Taking this approach to advertising also forces businesses to develop a very narrow and deep understanding of their consumer target market. This leads to more consistent and successful marketing campaigns and better media choice decisions, which then lead to a more successful company and happy shareholders.
1. Bentley, J. (2011, December 1). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://blog.zap2it.com/
2. Ehret, J. (2009, May 4). [Web log message]. Retrieved from http://themarketingspot.com/
3. Newspaper Association of America (NAA). (2012, March 14).Advertising expenditures; annual (all categories). Retrieved from http://www.naa.org/Trends-and-
4. Scarborough USA. (2012, February 22). Newspaper readership & audience by age and gender. Retrieved from http://www.naa.org/Trends-and-