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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Big Trends in Marketing - 2

Big Trends in Marketing

Trend 2: Advertising Value: Impact vs. Repetition

In the late 1950’s the advertising industry embraced educational research on learning which said a message was best remembered when repeated 3 times or more. As mass reach radio and television came to prominence in the 1960’s, so did the practice of media planning to the 3+ frequency levels. Even now, and across almost all “measured” media, including the new ones, the concept of frequency remains fully entrenched.

This begs a few questions. Do consumers still learn advertising (as opposed to knowledge) the same way? What is the role of message frequency in new media and across micro-targeted channels on cable and internet? Is the same message repeated many times better or more successful than a multitude of different messages once?

Now this is NOT scientific, but my 7 and 4 year olds point in a firm direction: the right thing, said at the correct moment, in the right tone has an immediate impact.

Finally, can a brand afford to spread itself thin on frequency if the message impact is more relevant? Obviously it kind of depends on what you say or how you say it. Imagine an idea so BIG, so powerful, so unique, that everyone would get it, remember it, talk about it, and take action from it.

At the top of my list is the Apple “1984” commercial as well as the IBM Charlie Chaplin ads, Nike “Tiger Woods golf ball” spot, Wendy’s “Where’s the beef?” campaign, and the Volkswagon “How the Snowplow driver gets to work” print ad.

Less visible but of equally strong impact was the Reeses Pieces product placements in the movie ET, the directional billboards pointing toward a nearby McDonalds, the small text ads galore at, and the banner ads. Placement, context and relevance give these examples impact.

Most marketers would agree that both impact and repetition are important, and neither should outweigh the other. Steady as she goes with media planning and creative development. Sure the media delivery world has changed, but we know how to count and project off these rules.

But what do you do when concentrated audiences and mass reach vehicles have all but disappeared? It is more time consuming and costly to aggregate audiences in small bunches, but one can still accumulate a majority of eyeballs within a target profile.

The big trend I foresee involves creating massive volumes of high impact advertising. Forget the single proposition. The movement for brand development must move toward customer relevance. In other words many more messages in the right place at the right time.

The message must match the consumer frame of mind in the context of the medium or a successive amount of knowledge about consumer behavior or other profiling information.

At one level this is old news. Everyone knows that you have a different execution for different magazines, and for men vs. women vs. children, and for brand building vs. direct response.

What is not being done is to have a substantially different execution – consistent with the brand – in every placement. For example, a Verizon or AT&T cellphone ad which features the typical person (age and gender) talking a relevant message in a related place according to the cable TV channel it is running on. So the Sci-fi channel will get a young guy at NASA space camp, the Food Network gets a soccer mom at a market or restaurant, A&E gets an upscale couple at a performance event, and you get the idea.

So suddenly there are 30 commercials for the 15 cable channels, and others made custom to even specific programs. Is this affordable? Is it economical, regarding ROI?

Regarding affordability, the answer is clearly yes. The tools are here and abroad to make and distribute all forms of media and creative. The ROI is another question that just needs to be done for each brand. Contact me to discuss this if you want to test the ideas.


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