One of the oldest jokes in business is about advertising:
“We know that half of all your advertising dollars are wasted. We just don’t know which half.”
That was never more true than today, in a down-market that is also rapidly changing. The world of advertising is morphing into those of us who “get it” about changing viewer habits, and those of us who don’t. There are a lot of senior executives out there who don’t get it.
Luckily, many of these same executives actually know they are missing “something” about the new media and the new ways of doing business.
A lot of the differences in the advertising world today are generational. The twenty-something’s “get it” when it comes to new media. They have jumped from emails to MySpace to Facebook to Twitter with the ease of an Olympic gymnast. The thirty-something’s are catching up fast. The forty- and fifty-something’s? Well, not so much.
Traditional media (newspapers, magazines, broadcast television) are shrinking. On May 1 the Poynter Institute reported that newspaper circulation figures were up. But the fine print revealed that the Audit Bureau of Circulations had actually changed the method of counting in 2010. Yes, digital and online views were way up (and are now added to circulation statistics). But paper versions of the newspaper are just not selling. The Washington Post had circulation decline of 7.84%, including online, in 2010. The Philadelphia Inquirer was down 5.36%; the Chicago Tribune down 5.17%. Paper readership has been declining for decades.
Magazines are even weaker. Magazine circulation was down 1.4% in 2010, and 2.25% in 2009. In 2010 Reader’s Digest lost 22% of its circulation; Newsweek lost 31%. Of the top 25 magazines, only Game Informer Magazine had a double digit increase in sales in 2010. (A print magazine to help you go online.)
And during the same time – as you already guessed – U.S. Internet advertising hit another all-time high. The Interactive Advertising Bureau showed a third quarter 2010 jump of 17% in ad revenues over the same period in 2009. Even twitter – once the domain of tweens talking about boy bands – has become a serious tool of politics and business.
So, as you re-think your marketing during this new age of advertising, is there any firm ground left? Is there any strategy that can keep your advertising decisions from becoming a joke?
Actually, there is, and it follows that other old management maxim:
“Keep it simple, stupid.”
The “KISS” method of management says that every business decision should be boiled down to its simplest form. For advertising and communications, that means knowing who you are and what to say about yourself. Know your product (often, the technology) and know your ideal audience (the market). Put the two together, and you will know exactly what to say (your brand). Leverage your brand to maximize your profit (your business strategy).
With a clear message, the choice of the best tool for delivery – online or offline, new media or old – becomes simple. With the right business strategy, the choice of advertising media becomes much easier. But without the right strategic thinking, your ad dollars will be wasted.
Yes, it’s a strange world out there in new media. Technology is changing daily. But if you craft the right business strategy, you can become that change in the market that others fear.