Thursday, May 30, 2013

Cultural Currency – Traditional vs. Digital Advertising

It is difficult to find totally objective studies about advertising outside of academia.  A new report on “cultural currency” (broad audiences that effect significant social media behaviors) was conducted on behalf of television, but it also reveals some interesting social media associations related to other forms of media.

The recent study by TVB, a trade group for television in collaboration with Colligent, aims to better inform advertisers seeking to leverage social media during traditional advertising.  They found that “commenters” and “photo-video posters” favor local television programming and “likers” favored local radio and cable TV.

However, frequent “commenters” and “likers” favored local radio, “tweeters” favored local newspapers, “hashers” favored cable TV while “retweeters” favored local newspapers and “repliers” favor local TV.

Social media behaviors also varied by type of programming.  For example, dramas favor Twitter and game shows favor Facebook.  A summary of a study by Viacom notes that after “following” or “liking” a TV show, 75% are more likely to watch it.

According to an April report by Massachusetts-based Burst Media, advertisements seeking to prompt social interaction were least effective on outdoor ads at 12.7% with 9.5% recall.

Studies make it difficult to see the amazing free-fall in the effectiveness of traditional billboards but you can see it in the huge number that are vacant or obviously donated to unsuspecting non-profits at inflated values to avoid paying taxes. (now there is an area the IRS should target.)

Performance of this nearly obsolete but highly destructive form of advertising is buried now in a category called “out-of-home” (OOH) which also includes airports, doctors’ offices, gas stations, grocery stores, health clubs, elevators, bars, retail stores and malls.

Nearly half of all OOH digital advertising revenues now in the U.S. are unrelated to digital roadside billboards.  This further undermines the billboard industry's claim to being relevant or indispensible economically.

The claim is further made absurd by netting out the far greater economic benefits from the trees it destroys let alone the view-shed which is truly crucial to economic development.

Now inundated by 10,000 ads per day, the only place the average consumer finds ads useful is on these so-called “place-based” (actually venue-based) digital screens because they see them when they are actually in stores or malls.  Still, according to Nielsen, while up to 82% view the screens (in malls,) overall only 18.1% can recall the advertiser.

McKinsey noted in a 2009 white paper that unless a consumer is actively shopping (either physically or virtually) when they happen to see an ad, the exposure is largely wasted.

This has always been true, it just became more obvious during the emergence of an on-going experiment called online shopping.  This fact underlies as much as too much volume why advertising effectiveness has fallen from zero into negative territory.

An Arbitron study of these digital place-based screens estimates that in a 30-day period they are seen by 108 million adult U.S. residents: 6% in an airport, 13% in a mall or a gas station, 14% inside a retail store, 17% in a grocery story and 24% in a restaurant/bar.

The study reveals that viewership by income and education and age vary widely by place, a word usually reserved for destination communities but applied to venues for OOH media by Arbitron and Nielsen.

For those inclined to view these OOH place-based screens, or just bored while waiting for flights or for a dining partner to return from the restroom in a restaurant, they may be good venues, especially for novelty products or new product launches.

OOH venue-based screens are no more conducive to sense of place than the roadside versions but if kept to a minimum, they far, far less destructive.

Occurring only after a someone is shopping, they are also less likely to alienate more people that to which they appeal and they may enable society to reclaim scenic view-sheds along roadsides and the healthful benefits or uninterrupted roadside forests.

However, even for digital ads, platforms such as desktops, tablets and smartphones, with a recall of 60.9%, far outperform OOH place-based screens, television, radio or print when it comes to leveraging social media, according to the Burst Media survey.

Advertising is a form of “yelling” to get attention, so by definition it always has far less credibility and recall.  The industry only knows how to “yell” louder and louder with more and more ads flooding the average person’s view-shed.

It has no sense of or ability to self-govern or it would arbitrarily reduce the yelling from 10,000 ads per day per person to something closer to 2,000.  That would still be nearly three ads per minute we’re potentially awake.  The overload is all about money, not the advertising, not the consumer.

Until the advertising sector finds the means to do so, this element of marketing is fostering its own extinction.

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