If you read the new combined Adweek/Brandweek/Mediaweek, you'd best double-check the facts and figures they quote in their stories. Just this past week in a story where Paul Gelb, Mobile Practice Lead of Razorfish told Adweek in an (hope you are sitting down...) exclusive interview, "I think mobile ad spend will overtake television," Adweek provides this handy and utterly wrong link on the $131 billion advertisers dropped on television last year. You don't have to be in the ad business to know that TV gets about $60.5 billion a year in ad dollars and that the reporter misread the linked story, which actually refers to the total ad spend for the U.S. Two days (and counting) after the story posted, the mistake remains uncorrected.
Were this a term paper, that mistake would cost you at least an entire letter grade. At the new Adweek, who knows -- it might result in a promotion. While it would be great fun to point out all of the things I don't like about the new Adweek (mostly its snide and presumptive attitude), I digress and would rather this week make fun of Paul Gelb (who tweeted that he thought the story was "great stuff," without pointing out the glaring error). According to his LinkedIn profile, he graduated from Cornell in 2002. That means that when guys like him were running about in the late '90s saying the Internet would soon surpass TV ad spending, Paul was playing beer pong and cramming for his midterms in macroeconomics and international business.
"It's only been four years since the first iPhone was introduced," Gelb gushes in this exclusive interview. "If you'd predicted then that smart phones could outsell PCs and that people would spend an hour a day on their phones, no one would have believed you." Smartphones are one of the fastest technology adoptions in history, he told a rapt Adweek.
Sounds just like the claims about the phenomenal growth of Internet penetration and the rapid adoption of broadband that guys like Paul were jumping up and down about earlier in this century. But what can you expect when your job description says you are "a trusted consultant to Razorfish's largest clients as they evolve their media and business strategies to include breakthrough technology and advanced platforms"? That means you insist that the areas you are responsible for -- in this case mobile -- will grow just like weeds in a newly fertilized flower bed. No matter that TV is enjoying a significant resurgence in ad spending despite all that "breakthrough technology and advanced platforms," or that TV continues to reach 89.5% of U.S. adults on a daily basis and outperforms its closest media competitor, the Internet, at 67.5%.
The engagement rates are higher (on mobile than TV), Gelb apparently told Adweek in that exclusive interview. Not sure where that comes from, but if in fact folks are spending more than four and a half hours a day (average TV time for adults) on the phone, there are some seriously dead batteries out there. And tumors sprouting quietly in lots of craniums.
I don't care if there are already more mobile devices out there than there are actual living, breathing people walking the globe, and that some media companies are falling all over themselves to provide TV everywhere -- including on those handhelds -- Paul will be a distant memory to his grandchildren's grandchildren before mobile mounts any kind of real threat to TV. In fact, I would suggest that mobile ($1.1 billion) will be hard pressed to catch up to online ad spending ($26 billion) any time soon.
The ad clutter on network TV is so profound now that it is driving audiences to time-shift more and more viewing to skip past the endless banks of ads in commercial breaks. So try cramming all that spend into your mobile phone and see just how pissed off consumers can get.
But, hey, you got a headline in Adweek. The world is good, right?