It has begun and it is not pretty.
This week, the press at the The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has fallen silent, and the newspaper has gone purely digital. More than 165 people lost their jobs, while 20 were left to take care of the digital version. Unfortunately this is a story that will be repeated more than a few times in the next couple of months. Online pundits like 21wallst.com have boldly predicted 10 Major Newspapers that will fold or go digital next. The scary part is that people are not arguing against that prediction.
Part of that news caught my attention - the part about going purely digital.
I have met, in the last 6 months, with sales reps from various International Newspapers like Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal and they have increasingly been trying to sell their dot com versions. At first it was the regular sales rep pushing the dot com as an extra or an after thought; these days they are bringing their digital sales colleagues.
Pew recently conducted some research about newspapers in the US found that almost half (47% ) of the population will not miss their local papers. If that wasn’t bad enough, Pew found that only 27% of Gen Y (those born after 1977), read a newspaper yesterday. The future indeed looks bleak for newspapers.
Fortunately Newspapers are in a grace period; a cusp. The recognized brand names from the now defunct newspapers have moved online, so currently they are straddling the traditional-new media divide. But sooner or later they will have to choose which side of the divide they want to be on. However once they go fully digital, their name recognition may not be able to help them against the various established dot com news sources.
What then is The Seattle Post-Intelligencer? Obviously it is a newspaper no longer but a merely an online news source. Somehow I find that a sad thing.
Blame the recession, blame the internet or simply blame the fact that Newspapers in general have failed to keep relevant - things are not looking good for UK Newspapers.
Not that it is a surprise to anyone.
According to this, Dec 2008 was not a good year for the top 11 newspapers in the UK. From the widely popular The Sun to the somewhat niche Financial Times, all of them are down. The minus signs are simply scary. Not a single one of them managed a positive growth.
This is not directly related to advertising or engagement, but the media landscape, it is a’changing. Hope that marketers and their agencies are paying attention.
I always get a warm and fuzzy feeling when big brands hope that by doing token greenwashing everyone will forget their past green-transgressions. I get chills up my spine when yet another business starts using words like eco-friendly, green or wind power to drum up more business. Isn’t that novel? Isn’t that great? Or is that my cynical side speaking?
Either way, color me impressed with the new Windvertising.
Instead of being powered by plain, old, boring electricity from Con Ed, the new and eco-friendly Time Square spectaculars will be powered by wind turbines and solar panels. It can even store enough power for several days so that in case the weather turns, the eco-friendly corporations can still advertise with a clean conscious and sleep better at night. According to this Brandweek article more than a few brands are making the switch to Windvertising.
According to the same article, if all the 500,000 billboards in the US were to adopt Windvertising, over 5.3 Million tons of carbon can be prevented from entering the air. Now that the marketers know about the horrendous amounts of CO2 that their billboards are pumping into the air and making mother Earth generally uninhabitable, I am sure that they will now collectively switch to Windvertising right away.
Not bad, this should appeal to the treehugger in all of us. Now all I have to do is to remember to buy stock in the company that came up with Windvertising.
What do CircuitCity, Linens ‘N Things & Sharper Image have in common? Beside from the obvious fact that they have all gone belly up in the last 12 months.
Even though the stores have closed, the merchandise sold off and the signage removed, these brands still retain some value and someone wants to buy the Brand Names.In fact some one just paid 49 million dollars for Sharper Image, sans the faux cool stuff and the annoying sales people. Isn’t that great?
Just goes to show why it is worth investing in the Brand.
According to Interbrand, a branding consultant; after selling off everything they own, the Coke Brand is still worth over 66,000 million dollars, the Microsoft Brand is worth 59,000 million dollars.
For years, I have seen advertisers and marketers bandy the word Brand like there was no tomorrow. For years, come budget time, I have seen few marketing directors actually allocate anything into Brands - unless it is necessary for them to get the brand into the general consciousness of the population. Wielding ROI, KPI, EBIT and a whole bunch of acronyms, the directors decide that the Brand Building can be left for their successor or the pesky matter would magically take care of itself.
Of course it is too late for Sharper Image to enjoy the 49 million, but at least somehow the dream, the values and most importantly the idea of Sharper Image will live on. Maybe there is something to be said for building Brands.
Rumors of the demise of advertising have been greatly exaggerated. Despite gleeful claims, advertising is not dead and that good old fashioned 30 sec TV Commercial? That ain’t dead either. But both are a hurting.
Absolutist views like that help sell books and drive traffic to the websites. Heck they even make great headlines in trade publications and provide great fodder for talking heads. Advertising will be around for some time yet.
Talk. Talk. Talk
There is always a need for a manufacture to ‘talk about,’ their new product or service. No matter how great other forms of communication are, a concise, attention getting ad will do a great job of getting the message out there. The ad can take the form of a 30 Sec TV Commercial, a simple Print Ad or a Billboard in the middle of a busy street.
2 Ways Street
Communications theory 101: for effective communication to happen, both parties must be prepared to talk and to listen. The problem is that most marketers have somehow gotten it into their heads that if the Brand talks People Must Stop and Listen. Right. People don’t have to do no such thing. Stop advertising for a while and listen to what the People are saying. If that is asking too much, pause for awhile and you may just learn something useful from the people. Then you can start advertising again.
Advertising can be on any Medium
People automatically assume that when we say advertising it is the 30 sec TV Commercial. While advertisers are still spending significant percentages of their budgets on TV, they are now trying to split it up into other mediums. So while television will continue to lose audience, this audience will be going elsewhere. So yeah, the 30 Sec spot may be in ICU! But be prepared to see ads on your favorite TV Show, your monthly magazine, your social networks, your games, your street, your mobile. Yup, the advertisers know where you are.
There you have it. 3 reasons.
That is not to say that marketers and advertisers don’t have to do anything. The rules have changed and they better be ready to not only do the pre-requisite 30 sec ad, but also online ads, events and public relations to get the message out there. You know, think a little.