Gordon Borrell: "The marketing world has changed. Advertisers are more media savvy than they were just a decade ago. They know the power of each medium and see right through anyone who doesn’t. Rather than downplaying the effectiveness of digital advertising, television’s message should be: Look at the power of digital media and how TV magnifies it."
TV Needs To Boost, Not Bash, Digital Media
The TV industry has a remarkable story to tell, but it’s not telling it well.
In fact, I think many are telling the wrong story altogether.
The wrong story is that TV is powerful and that digital media is a fraud. It’s coming from various sources, but never was it so clearly stated as when media critic Michael Wolff uttered these words at last fall’s TVB Forward Conference: “Digital media consists of this entirely undifferentiated audience — an audience that you trick to come to you, an audience that doesn’t care about you, an audience that actually doesn’t know who you are.”
Wolff also said digital “is worth very little,” and that TV is prevailing because it refused to change in the face of digital challenges.
Good as it may feel, it isn’t the story the industry should embrace. In fact, it could be quite harmful.
The marketing world has changed. Advertisers are more media savvy than they were just a decade ago. They know the power of each medium and see right through anyone who doesn’t.
Television’s message should be: look at the power of digital media and how TV magnifies it.
A “digital first” attitude is hard for traditional media people to swallow. But it’s actually in sync with what’s on marketers’ minds. In a survey of 7,308 local advertisers, the types of marketing that they felt drove new customers the most were “my company website” and “social media.” Those two choices beat out all other forms of media by a wide margin.
By telling advertisers that digital media is a pack of lies, you may as well call them stupid. And if you forward them an article about the rise of ad-blocking software, you run the risk of them pointing out that all TV households have at least a four pieces of ad-blocking hardware (the doorbell, the toilet, the remote control and the refrigerator.)
So let’s not go there.
There’s a more powerful reason to tell the TV story differently: TV understands digital media very well — perhaps better than any other media competitor. In preliminary results from a recent survey of local advertisers, 27% rated TV reps “very effective” or “extremely effective” in digital marketing capabilities. Comparatively, 19% gave newspaper reps high ratings and 14% gave radio high ratings.
It’s a very powerful message, and it doesn’t just extend to digital. TV also received the highest rank for overall marketing expertise. Thirty-six percent rated TV reps very effective or extremely effective in marketing expertise, compared with 31% for radio and 30% for newspapers.
It’s a positive story, and one that’s far more aligned with the marketplace.
Like blacksmiths discovered 100 years ago, defending the virtues of the old business (horses and carriages) and badmouthing the new (automobiles) got them nowhere. But those who recognized that their customers were changing, and changed with them, survived, evolving into service stations and car dealerships.
That’s the path the TV industry should be taking, and the story we should be telling.
Gordon Borrell has been in the media industry for 41 years. In 2001 he founded research firm Borrell Associates, which licenses market-level advertising data to more than 250 media companies in the U.S. and Canada. He can be reached at [email protected].