Category Archives: death of advertising

Why most media kits stink

So what are you getting for all those big ad dollars, anyway?

All the advertising you see on TV, radio, papers or online is carefully planned as a war game, and one key step in that conception is to review media outlets by their “media kits.” These 4-10 page documents are the personal résumés of magazines, TV networks or newspapers. As you’d expect, they talk about content, who reads them, and what ads cost.

For decades media kits bragged about “impressions” — how many people they reach. And then a funny thing happened. Internet advertising was born and started talking about results.

The table above is just one illustration from ValueClick, an online ad network that collects 13,500 web sites and runs banner ads across them with behavioral targeting or retargeting. Media planners who work with such ad networks can predict, in detail, not only impressions but clicks through to the site, conversion rates, leads and sales.

This type of information is incredibly useful in media planning, yet old-school media avoids it … and in fact has become defensive about what data it does reveal. Newspapers have begun trying to mask circulation declines with newfangled metrics that combine paper readers with web traffic. Radio networks and industry groups dispute new Portable People Meters that monitor an exact signal from radio stations to define exact audiences. Essence magazine claims more than 7.8 million “readers” with a print circulation just over 1 million, in a mental trick known as “pass-along readership.” Uh-huh.

It’s too bad old media is running and hiding. If instead they helped advertisers forecast real results, they might win a bigger slice of the ad pie.

Dear advertisers: You are not on this road

We were playing film hobbyist this weekend and it occurred to us that advertisers may be in more trouble than they think. Sure, newspaper circulations are down and broadcast viewers are aborting TV for YouTube. Yeah, radio GRPs are down as the new measuring systems expose consumers skipping around the dial.

But the real trouble is the tools for creating communication are now in consumers’ hands — removing the need for advertisers altogether. We built this video using free iMovie software on our Mac, got advice on how to do it with the free social-media tool Twitter, and uploaded it all to the free video site Vimeo (which has better resolution, dear hobbyists, than YouTube). The film’s URL was then shot to about 100 people in our extended family via free webmail for an evening’s entertainment. And then we waited for responses, as other family emailed us back their own photos and content from the family reunion.

Advertisers were nowhere in that loop. The old model of third-party interception is not just slipping; it may be going away as consumers learn to drive the car.

Hat tip to former Saatchi ad legend Bob Weekes, who just turned 70 and cycled 100 miles.