August 25, 2009

Things As They Really Are

One of the hardest things for agency people to do is to see things as they really are. Not as they'd like them to be. Not as they've heard they are. Not as they've read they are. Not as their company's philosophy says they are. But as they really are.

The terribly difficult part about this is that you have to take yourself out of the equation. You have to understand that you are not typical. That your circle of friends is probably not typical. That the articles you read, the blogs you subscribe to, and the colleagues you talk to are probably not typical. In fact, the entire micro-culture you are immersed in is not typical.

Let's take me for example. I am about the lightest user of television you can find. I essentially watch nothing on tv other than baseball games. I have never seen American Idol, or Survivor, or...I pay so little attention to tv that I don't even know what shows to list here as examples of popular shows I have never watched.

I'm sure I spend at least 20 times more time on the web than I do watching television. I have a blog, a Twitter account, a Facebook page. I am a prototypical web geek.

And yet, every few months I try to run a piece here at TAC to remind us where the web stands in the advertising pantheon. I try to keep my personal behavior in perspective and understand that I am very, very far from typical.

Most important, I try to remind myself -- and you -- that no matter how much hype we have read, and no matter how many trendy opinions we have been exposed to, no one is smarter than the facts.

Which leads me to another study that points up the weakness of the web as an advertising medium. This one comes from the UK where it was published by Deloitte/YouGov on behalf of the Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival*.

Some highlights from the study:
  • 64% of respondents ranked television commercials as the advertising format with the most impact.
  • Young people (18-24) ranked tv commercials even higher, with 3/4 saying tv was the ad format with the most impact.
  • 12% of consumers chose search advertising as one of the top three types of advertising with the most impact and only 8% ranked banner advertising in their top three.
I am often surprised at these findings. Each month I expect to find a "tipping point" event that launches the web into a new level of success as an advertising medium. So far, the facts say it hasn't happened.

* I have often warned against taking at face value research done by interested parties. This is obviously such a case. If it wasn't consistent with so much other research we have seen, I wouldn't put much faith in it.

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