Monday, January 07, 2008

Has Advertising Become More Impotent Than Important?

In the digital marketplace, as we all know, the number of viewers per commercial is decreasing. As this seems to be the new reality, is now not the time to try and discover new ways to measure the effectiveness of a commercial?

Reach and frequency have had their run, their 50 years of fame, so to speak. They served the industry well and will be fondly remembered.

But as we enter this New Year, can we at least make the resolution to let go of the old and bring in the new?

I know it sounds simplistic, but to actually start doing something new, one simply needs to stop doing something old. Reach and frequency are old.

Next.

Unfortunately, sales, also a popular past determinate of effectiveness, can no longer be directly tied to the efforts of advertising. According to Deloitte’s Consumer Products Group, 62% of consumers read consumer-written product reviews on the Internet, with more than 8 in 10 saying their purchase decisions are influenced by such reviews.

What’s more, 80% of consumers trust brand recommendations from family, friends and “influential” persons over advertising and marketing.

While advertising still has a role, what that role is, certainly needs redefining.

In the meantime, it could be argued that advertising is becoming more impotent and less important every day.

Current estimates indicate that those who live in cities are exposed to somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 ad message on a daily basis. Considering that, at best, the average consumer may remember 4 of those messages, tell me, how does this make an advertising professional feel?

Important?

Hardly.

The rub is that as advertising becomes less effective, the need for great advertising becomes more extreme. The cacophony of choices that consumers are confronted with on a daily basis is overwhelming their capacity to distinguish one brand from another.

In some primeval sense, consumers are begging for clarity.

They want nothing more than for order to reign in the chaos. For brands to be strong and powerful. For their purchase decisions to be made for them.

Brands used to do that.

Not any more.

Instead, brands today pursue impressions over involvement.

Mass over meaning.

Short-term hits rather than long-term commitments.

But, the fact is, consumers want to make commitments. Consumers want someone to step through the wall of noise and say, “Yes, you can trust us.”

Consumers want brands who understand who they are and aren’t afraid to tell them.

Consumers don’t want brands that are clamoring for attention, like girls wearing tops cut too low, or men, pants too tight.

Confidence comes from within. It exposes itself quietly.

People gravitate to it when they see it.

Perhaps in ’08, brands will understand that their strength lies in their essence, not in their exposure.

The odds are long.

But while the New Year is young, we still can, at least, hope.

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