Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Massive Oversupply of Media Impressions

Most advertising is wasted. Billions of media impressions every day hit the wrong people. While there is some truth to the premise that advertising is working subconsciously, the reason most of us glaze over ads, confident they didn't have an impact, is because we are right. They completely missed the target.

Every day we are exposed to a few more ads than we were the day before as advertising invades every nook and cranny of our lives. But when so many horns are blaring, we really can't hear anything. A recent study revealed that online banner advertising click-through-rates have fallen to basically zero.

The big media agencies that control roughly half of the $150 billion spent on advertising each year are desperately trying to develop better tools to plan and evaluate media placements while dozens of new companies are introducing more sophisticated ad targeting technologies.

This will help, but for the foreseeable future there will be, in the words of Martin Sorell, "a massive oversupply of media impressions."

Amidst such clamor, never has good, old fashioned, word-of-mouth ("WOM") advertising been more effective. According to a recent article in Media Daily News, WOM is the single most effective tool to promote a TV program after actual TV tune-in ads.

Every interaction I have had with a brand during the last week was based on a WOM recommendation - from viewing a new cable TV program to buying a pair of jeans at a new store to checking out a new item at Trader Joes.

Seems the best thing a brand can do is delight their customer and do everything they can to get them talking about their experience.

Which is why social media has quickly become a brand's most important marketing tool. After all, social media is simply a platform to monitor and amplify WOM.

The two busiest businesses in my neighborhood are Trader Joes and Whole Foods, both notorious for little-to-no traditional advertising but tremendous WOM buzz and social media savvy.

More and more top brands are assigning their best marketing executives to social media roles, putting even more pressure on the standard advertising formats to hit their marks.