June 02, 2014

The Woeful Weenies Of Traditional Media

I never attended college. I was enrolled and I graduated, but I never actually attended.

My college had the unfortunate habit of scheduling classes at inconvenient times when horses were running, pool rooms were operating, and the occasional hippie chick required horizontal therapy.

I majored in political science because they had no attendance requirements. A very fortunate circumstance for someone as busy as I was.

Every now and then I was required to attend a class to hand in a paper, or a form, or prove I was alive.

I remember one particular instance of attending a class in which the lecturer said something memorable. This guy, by the way, was young and charming and made his way through the poli sci co-ed community faster than Vladimir Putin through Crimea.

Anyway, apropos of Putin, on one particular day this guy made the comment that at the time of the Russian revolution Lenin's boys only had the support of about 5% of the populace. The reason they successfully seized control of the country was that they were far better organized than any other group.

He gave us a general rule of politics: In times of chaos, victory goes to the best organized.

Which brings to mind the current situation in the advertising industry.

It is pretty clear that despite the well-documented failings of online advertising, it has seized control of the advertising business. I went to Adweek's front page today and found that of the 5 stories listed as "most popular," 4 1/2 were about online advertising.

This is not unusual. While Internet advertising constitutes less than 5% of total global ad spend (I think it's about 15% in the U.S.) its advocates are the Leninists of marketing. They are true believers, they are well-organized, they are determined, they have a narrative, and their competitors in the broadcast and print industries are too cowardly to fight.

The TV and radio industry are too busy battling each other over ad budgets to challenge the online industry. The typical TV sales person is actively trying to drum up business by telling agencies and clients how screwed up the other TV guys are.

In addition, every broadcast and print entity now has its own online component. So they are afraid to stand up to online media because they might undermine the people they have on the street trying to sell their online inventory.

Meanwhile online advertising is a disaster. As I reported a few days ago...
But they're easily getting away with it and growing impressively. They have the press in their back pocket; they have ad agencies pimping for them; and the traditional media are too timid and spineless to defend themselves.

Broadcast and print are pathetically unprepared for this fight. They haven't learned that if they don't tell their story, no one else will.

Sadly, all the hippie chicks are gone. But the Leninists are still winning.


Tess_Alps said...

Hi Bob,

Tess from Thinkbox here. We're the UK's marketing body for commercial TV.
I like to think that we do fight back vigorously when nonsense is written about TV advertising, and we do that old-fashioned thing of using facts and evidence.

But here are a few reasons why we don't actively attack online media:
1. It's not all the same form of advertising and some of it seems to work well - as long as TV is running alongside it.
2. TV is online itself and ads in on-demand TV seem to work as well as linear, though in a slightly different way.
3. People would dismiss it as old-fashioned sour grapes.

But we are more than happy to attack Internet fundamentalists who seem to think that for online media to thrive everything else must die. A quick glance at some of our blog posts will show you that we are delighted to shame the bullshitters.

Perhaps we're lucky that Thinkbox represents the whole British TV ad market and is not split into broadcast vs cable, or pay vs free. But we do only represent one country and this debate now needs to go global. We have tried hard to get the TVB and the CAB to collaborate with us and I think things are slowly happening.

But thank you, Bob, from our side of the pond for taking the fight to the blind, deluded and sometimes fraudulent.

bob hoffman said...

I've seen your work. You're much more active, prepared and effective than U.S TV industry.

Cecil B. DeMille said...

Often fraudulent? Usually fraudulent?

The ad industry in the United States is in grave need of a spine and an additional brain cell to rub with the one it has. We're getting overrun – logic is losing to enthusiasm. Keep up the good work across the pond. Ship some common sense our way whenever possible.