April 26, 2011

Rewriting History

Here at The Ad Contrarian world headquarters, one of the great amusements of the past year has been watching the pundit digerati backpedaling and rewriting history.

It now seems that a few years ago when the New Age marketing apostles were yapping about the death of the 30-second spot and the impending demise of television they didn’t really mean it.

Joseph Jaffe in "Life After the 30-Second Spot," 2005...
"...now is the time to come out of my closet with this emphatic statement: The thirty-second spot - at least as it exists today - is either dead, dying, or has outlived its usefulness. Take your pick."
Joseph Jaffe on The BeanCast, 2011
"...what I wrote about in "Life After the 30-Second Spot"...I said of course television works, I mean, that's not the issue....
The cause of this revisionism is the amazing resilience of TV and TV advertising in spite of the rapid growth of online advertising.
  • The Wall Street Journal, yesterday: "Demand Builds for TV Ad Time. As rising gasoline prices and stubbornly high unemployment hold back the U.S. economy, one marketplace still appears to be as hot as ever: TV advertising..."
  • eMarketer, March 29, 2011: "2010 brought a major recovery in TV spending...with 9.7% growth... said eMarketer CEO and co-founder Geoff Ramsey. “While the growth of online advertising has been robust, it hasn’t stopped brand advertisers from keeping the bulk of their budgets flowing through TV sets.”
  • Thinkbox, January 27, 2011: "According to new figures from the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (BARB), in 2010 the average (UK) TV viewer watched 28 hours, 15 minutes of live, linear TV a week (4 hours, 2 minutes a day). This is an increase of 2 hours, 4 minutes a week (18 minutes a day) on 2009 and represents an all time high in TV viewing."
  • The New York Times, December 6, 2010: “The success story, perhaps surprisingly, has been television,” said Steve King, chief executive at the ZenithOptimedia media division of the Publicis Groupe. TV is, by his estimates, still gaining share of the overall advertising market...to 40.7 percent in 2010, from 37 percent in 2005."
So now we're getting a new version of history.

According to the new version, what the advertising experts actually meant was that online advertising wasn't really going to destroy everything in its path. The new orthodoxy is that online advertising is just another tool in our toolbox. You know, kinda like door hangers or hooter wobblers. And the way to use it properly is as part of a media mix along with traditional advertising.

They never meant to imply that other forms of advertising were obsolete or outdated. Or dead, or dying, or had outlived their usefulness.

Oh, heck, no. Our bad.

It was just idiots like us who misunderstood what they were saying when they said things like this.
  • "The post-advertising age is under way. ... the present is apocalyptic. Any hope for a seamless transition -- or any transition at all -- from mass media and marketing to micro media and marketing are absurd." Bob Garfield, Ad Age, 2009.
  • "...there's plenty of bad economic news floating around. From the price of oil to Wall Street to bailouts to the death of traditional advertising." Seth Godin, 2008
  • ...the writing is on the wall...at the end of the day, people want to consume content without the friction of having to sit down in front of a television at an appointed time....People want to see the whole show on YouTube. There is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior going on..."  From TechCrunch, November 2006 Let's Just Declare TV Dead And Move On
  • "Traditional TV won't be here in seven to 10 years...It's changing so fast that I don't know if it's even going to be that long."  From Wired, April 2007: The TV Is Dead. Long Live The TV
  • One of the founding fathers of the internet has predicted the end of traditional television....Vint Cerf, who helped to build the internet... said...that viewers would soon be downloading most of their favourite programmes onto their computers.  From The Telegraph, 2007: TV Is Dying Says Google Expert
You see, these people didn't really mean that TV, and traditional advertising were dead, they just meant...uh, you know...pizza tastes really good! Yeah, that's what they meant.

The absurd part of all this is that I guarantee you there will still be some moronic comments below defending all these knuckleheaded prognostications and asserting that I'm just a dumb fart who doesn’t get it.

By the way...
...I have nothing against Joseph Jaffe, Seth Godin, or Bob Garfield -- all of whom are smart guys and good writers. Their job, like mine, is to shoot their mouths off in a way that is provocative and entertaining. And, like me, sometimes they're going to be very wrong. Nobody bats 1.000 in this league.

The losers in this story are not the provocateurs. It is the legion of  brain dead web-monkeys who bought into the baloney that the web would "change everything." As I've said about a million times in this blog, marketers always overestimate the attraction of new things and underestimate the power of traditional consumer behavior.

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