Nov 2016

The Media Puzzle

By: Erica Thomas
Vice President, Media
Marketing Strategies, Inc.

When it comes to the media landscape the industry chatter says it’s fragmented and constantly changing. With social media, expanding digital options and mobile devices, we just can’t reach people the same way we used to.

I was thinking about this one Sunday morning when I was home watching TV and noted some of the stunning television ads we see now, with amazing special effects, all viewed in high definition. I remembered the ads I used to see in the ‘60s (yes, I’m old enough to remember ads from the ‘60s) with catchy jingles sung in harmony, and the product held up unnaturally by the “Stepford wife” right next to her glinting smile. What would the people of the early ‘60s think if we beamed them into our living room, parked them on our couch and said, “Hey, check this out!”   They would be incredulous! We may even have to run for smelling salts! (Do they even make smelling salts anymore?)

Later that morning we went to Cracker Barrel for breakfast. While we were waiting for our eggs, I noticed the walls were adorned with an array of old 1940s and 1950’s product advertising, from magazine ads to outdoor signs and window posters, asking us to drink Royal Crown Cola and smoke Chesterfields. I smiled and thought, “old advertising never dies, it just becomes Cracker Barrel art.”

Contemplating all the different media from the different eras I realized that media has always fragmented, changed and evolved. The people of the 40’s depended on newspapers back when newspapers were still broadsheets and every page was read. The radio was the entertainment center in their living rooms. The advertising choices were print, outdoor and radio sponsorships. When television arrived radio didn’t disappear, rather the way people listened to radio changed. It moved from the living room to the car as the primary place for listening.

The media landscape fragmented and television became a powerful advertising option.

Today, according to a Deloitte media survey, 71% of Americans still rate watching TV among their favorite media activities. 83% of them confirm that television advertising has the most impact on their buying decision. But today the way people watch TV has changed. Social media and text message discussions about a favorite program occur in real time as they are watching. Mobile devices allow television viewing outside the living room and expanding digital options allow viewing a favorite program at any time.   Advertising options have also expanded in these areas.

To simplify, it is still the same media puzzle box but there are now more pieces and they fit together differently.  With focus and understanding (and maybe the help of a marketing firm that stays abreast of the evolving options) all of the pieces still go together to form a media puzzle that looks right.  You just have to pick the right picture that works for your business.

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