Friday, May 16, 2008

Media Fragmentation and Advertising Dollars

I recently found a compelling piece of data on media fragmentation. It comes from a webinar and corresponding slides by Christopher Vollmer of Booz Allen. We all know that media is fragmenting around the globe, but data from Vollmer’s new book Always On suggests there is little opportunity to reach a “mass market”—at all, anywhere--these days. Consumer choice reigns, even in that most “mass” of all media, TV.
As a long-time proponent of targeting, I’m not convinced that’s bad news. I do know, however, that it requires marketers to change where they spend their money and how they spend it. There’s a known mismatch between the amount of time consumers spend on various media and the advertising dollars that are directed to those media. Quoting a Forrester study, eMarketer says, “the corresponding difference between time spent online and Internet ad spending was. . .profound, at nearly 4 to 1.” (eMarketer newsletter, February 22, 2008).

Provocative as that comparison may be, it’s not a good metric, for many reasons. Chief among them is that Internet space is still usually cheaper on a CPM basis, which actually isn’t a good measure either.

In an accompanying article Vollmer quotes Carat Americas CEO David Verklin:

“Lately, marketers have become less interested in the number of eyeballs that see a screen or hands that touch a page and more interested in the behavior of the owners of those hands and eyes, and how the ad message connects with them.”

Vollmer goes on to say that “new outcome-focused metrics will shift the focal point of all advertising measurement from exposure to results.” He lists some of the emerging new metrics as:

•Commercial ratings
•Session quality and engagement
•Total viewing behavior (brand contact both online and offline)
•Opt-in activity
•Consumer participation
•Sales impact.

How many of us are actively using those metrics? Do we do the kind of marketing that leads to measurable opt-in activity and consumer participation that ranges from ratings to comments to content creation? Those are sobering questions for many marketers.

Take it a step further. Social media are beginning to fragment also. Consumers have issues with multiple contact points and profiles all over the web, hence aggregators like Friendster and FriendFeed.

Before we even catch up with what’s happening in the “old media,” the “new media” are experiencing the same phenomenon. Difference is, it’s faster in the new media, and the pace of change doesn’t seem to be slowing. Marketers need to choose their channels carefully based on the behavior of their target audience. Then they need to learn to reach consumers in those channels and measure results. It’s a big challenge, and it’s not getting any easier!
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