Thursday, September 29, 2005

Mass Marketing Is Broken

In his Chaos Scenario, Bob Garfield notes that "the cost of reaching 1,000 households in prime time has jumped from $7.64 in 1994 to $19.85 in 2004."

Plus, not only do you have to reach the people who are watching, you have to actually have their attention. Linda Stone's "continuous partial attention" theory suggest that your ad will compete with any number of other things - cellphone, email, etc, that will have a stronger personal connection to the viewer.

Think about how television watching has changed. In the 1950s and 60s, the entire family sitting around the television in the evenings, watching the advertisement on one of 3 or 4 channels. None of the main instant-on devices were available. They didn't turn on the radio or make a quick phonecall during the break.

Over time, that has devolved into the situation we have today - hundreds of TV channels along with the multitude of other opportunities for diversion.

Add in the proliferation of marketing channels - product placement, ever smaller billboards (see the coffee sleeve for a key example) - and you have a complete saturation of marketing messages for the consumer. This translates into a crisis for the Marketing Team. Still the majority of the marketing spend goes to the standard channels of TV, print, radio, and (now) online banners.

The old companies have the hardest time changing. Still, there are good examples. Toyota nailed it with Scion. They built these things from the ground up based on guerilla research with the younger set. The marketing approach has also shown this kind of ingenuity.

You almost never see a Yahoo! or Google advertisement. They don't need to. They launch a new product or feature, and key bloggers are all over it almost immediately. The user base grows organically (which, incidentally lets them gradually test the scalability of the web app). It stays in Beta mode until they're ready to launch it, then some online ads appear just in the right place, and there you go. New product.

At some point, every Marketing Team will need to deal with this issue. Right now, there's some experimentation, but online banner ads and popup ads are lame, print ad-like applications of online advertising. Should be interesting to see how it develops as the fire turns up.

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