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A Titanic Problem
by Andy
September 11, 2009

The data is in.  Traditional advertising expenditures are way, way down.  $10 Billion down in just the first six months of 2009.  The biggest reason is obviously the economy – advertisers have cut way back due to the realities of 2009.  Another is that prices were way over-inflated (like the housing market) and this is the correction we’ve been waiting for.


But Internet spending was only down 1% while Cable TV was actually up 2%.  To me, this says that the two media that arguably work fastest and are best against diverse audiences held up pretty well.  Or, they felt the price for Internet and Cable was fair and worth the continued investment.  However you want to slice it, these two held up during a tumultuous storm.

As the economy rebounds, can these traditional media expect to rebound back to previous levels?  I highly doubt it.

Ask any parent of a college-aged kid where their eyes are glued.  It’s not on the TV to watch recurring shows.  It’s not in a magazine or newspaper.  It’s not tuned to the radio.  Rather, they are glued to their computer screens and PDAs, searching and consuming content that matters most to them.  That which is irrelevant to them is not consumed.

Today’s more traditional customer (consumer and B2B) is searching for content, too.  They want to know and experience and believe, not just see and conform.  To lead in today’s competitive environment, you must influence.  To be influential, you must matter.

Yet the old structure of solely supporting marketing with branding and awareness remains.  And like the aircraft carrier, it’s well defended and hard to maneuver.  There are hundreds of organizations and (potentially) millions of people depending on that aircraft carrier.  Collectively, it is a very strong and influential institution committed to keeping her afloat.

The game has changed drastically over the last 15 years (arguably when the Internet started to get truly commercialized) and traditional mindsets toward marketing must change too.  You can no longer force branding down a target’s throat and keep expecting positive returns. Today, you must be searchable content that matters to your target audience.  Once you start from a marketing mindset of relevance, many of the tools needed to deliver your messages self-identify themselves.  Some may be on the carrier, but you’ll soon be surprised how effective speedboats can be.

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