Once it was print, then ra­dio, then TV. Is it dig­i­tal now?

New Zealand Marketing - - In Association With Tvnz -

Ask­ing to iden­tify the best per­form­ing chan­nel in ad­ver­tis­ing is akin to ask­ing what the cap­i­tal of the world is. Is it cos­mopoli­tan New York? Com­mer­cial pow­er­house Bei­jing? Or, per­haps, pro­gres­sive Am­s­ter­dam?

It’s a sub­jec­tive ques­tion, loaded with myr­iad fac­tors of in­flu­ence. And it changes as the world evolves.

Print, ra­dio and tele­vi­sion have all had their turn at the pin­na­cle of ad­ver­tis­ing. Although the dates vary from na­tion to na­tion, the golden age of news­pa­pers is gen­er­ally ac­cepted to have run be­tween 1830 and 1930, a pe­riod dur­ing which the chan­nel had a ver­i­ta­ble mo­nop­oly on the dis­tri­bu­tion of in­for­ma­tion. The 1930s saw the main­stream in­tro­duc­tion of ra­dio, and this chan­nel then basked in the golden glow for about two decades.

Un­til re­cently, the cen­tre of the ad­ver­tis­ing uni­verse was un­doubt­edly the tele­vi­sion screen. It gen­er­ated the most money, com­manded a mas­sive au­di­ence and in­te­grated its way into pop­u­lar cul­ture through quirky catch­phrases and de­light­fully en­ter­tain­ing char­ac­ters. Its in­flu­ence was sec­ond to none and it served as a fluid cre­ative can­vas with lim­it­less po­ten­tial (there’s a rea­son Mad Men con­cluded with a TVC).

Like any great em­pire, tele­vi­sion’s reign is in­creas­ingly threat­ened by a bol­shie new­comer who does not obey the ex­ist­ing rules. And for tele­vi­sion, this has come in the shape of the dig­i­tal chan­nel.

If eco­nomics is a con­stant bat­tle for the means of pro­duc­tion, then ad­ver­tis­ing dom­i­nance de­pends en­tirely on who con­trols dis­tri­bu­tion. And dig­i­tal has, for the first time, democra­tised the means of dis­tri­bu­tion, mak­ing it pos­si­ble for any­one with a com­puter and a few min­utes of time to pub­lish con­tent.

This year, we saw a wa­ter­shed mo­ment in the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion as the IAB’S ad fig­ures showed in­ter­ac­tive spend had for the first time over­taken tele­vi­sion.

Un­der normal cir­cum­stances, this would’ve seen dig­i­tal crowned the pow­er­ful chan­nel in ad­land. But, in the words of Ben Goldacre, I think you’ll find it’s more com­pli­cated than that.

This com­pli­ca­tion man­i­fested it­self this year when the ASA could not re­lease its over­all ad spend fig­ures on ac­count of bick­er­ing be­tween the var­i­ous chan­nels about where dif­fer­ent kinds of spend should be at­trib­uted.

The ar­gu­ment here is that the lines be­tween chan­nels are blur­ring and it’s be­come dif­fi­cult to as­sign spend to cer­tain chan­nels in ex­clu­sion. In­vari­ably, the word ‘in­te­gra­tion’ is pep­pered through th­ese dis­cus­sions, with the gen­eral consensus be­ing that mul­ti­ple media chan­nels have melded together—es­pe­cially in in­stances when a sin­gle media com­pany owns prop­er­ties across a num­ber of chan­nels.

How­ever, in­te­gra­tion re­mains more of an ob­jec­tive than an ac­tual re­flec­tion of an in­dus­try that re­mains quite di­vided along tra­di­tional lines.

Nowhere was this more ev­i­dent than in the fact the Canon Media Awards and New Zealand Ra­dio Awards oc­curred on the same night this year, the for­mer in the cap­i­tal and the lat­ter in Auck­land (“so much for con­ver­gence”, ob­served one Twit­ter user).

It’s also worth not­ing that all the tra­di­tional play­ers still have in­de­pen­dent bod­ies that lobby for their cat­e­gory. They cel­e­brate their vic­to­ries and fiercely de­fend their ground when at­tacked by crit­i­cism.

This is not to say that the lo­cal in­te­gra­tion ef­fort is fail­ing. There have been some bril­liant lo­cal cam­paigns seam­lessly wo­ven across nu­mer­ous chan­nels. How­ever, th­ese still only ac­count for a small por­tion of the over­all spend—which in turn means that in­te­gra­tion is one of many fac­tors to be taken into ac­count when gaug­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of a chan­nel.

While there are count­less other fac­tors that could’ve been taken into ac­count, the NZ Mar­ket­ing Media Mo­men­tum In­dex asked a se­lected panel of in­de­pen­dent ex­perts—con­sist­ing of media agency heads, cre­ative di­rec­tors and mar­keters—to score chan­nel per­for­mance across five cat­e­gories: adapt­abil­ity, mea­sure­ment, re­turn on in­vest­ment, buoy­ancy (or cool fac­tor), and cut-through.

Of course, this isn’t an ex­act science, but it does help to give a gauge on how tra­di­tional chan­nels are per­form­ing and how mar­keters per­ceive them in what is un­doubt­edly the most com­plex media environment in his­tory.

So, in com­ing back to the ques­tion of what the cap­i­tal of ad­ver­tis­ing is in the mod­ern era—well, as it turns out, that re­ally de­pends.

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