Ad Industry Can't Decide Whether or Not TV is Dead

Almost ten years ago, Joe Jaffe wrote a book entitled: "Life After the 30-Second Spot." As the title suggests, it was all about the demise of traditional media, specifically the :30 TV ad. In 2012, Brian Wieser, writing in TVNewsCheck, called reports of TV's death "greatly exaggerated" arguing against Henry Blodget who had just penned a Business Insider article about how the TV business is collapsing.  And at this week's ADMA Creative Fuel Conference, R\GA Founder Bob Greenberg is predicting the death of the metaphorical 30-second ad. So which is it? TV is dead? TV is here to stay? Can we make up our minds? If continuously rising Super Bowl prices are any indicator, TV as an ad medium is doing just fine. If you compare today's average prime time rating with those of just ten years ago, you begin to see a more dire picture. But it's not really all that dire. Yes, the effectiveness of TV advertising is declining but, at the same time, consumption of TV-like content is on a continuous upswing. It would seem to me the only thing that's changing is the words we use to describe what ad agencies do: place compelling content in front of the people most likely to be swayed by it. If we look at it that way, nothing's dying. It's just changing.

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Well we've heard it all before. Digital! Digital! Digital! All in with digital! So what's the new head of digital at Ogilvy New York, Lou Aversano, going to do to make his mark? He's not just going all in with digital. He's going to "aggressively invest in digital." Aggressively, I say! Anyway, what's more interesting is how Aversano got his start in the business. He tells AdWeek. "I was a Boston University finance major, and in my junior year I had to make up a class, so I took AdLab (a student-run ad agency) for the hell of it. The professor happened to be Walter Lubars, father of BBDO chief creative officer David Lubars. It’s a great program and I took it again senior year for no credit. I graduated and got a job at Bear Stearns. My first week there I thought, 'I’m 21 years old and I don’t want to live the rest of my life thinking woulda, coulda, shoulda.' So I quit my job without telling my father and interviewed at Chiat/Day New York. I didn’t get hired but got a job at N.W. Ayer as a secretary."

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The American Marketing Association has a new CEO; Russ Klein. Klein comes to the AMA from Arby's where he was chief marketing officer. Prior to that, he served as CMO for Burger King, 7-Eleven, and Dr Pepper/7Up companies. Of his focus upon taking on the new role, Klein said, “Disruption is the new normal in marketing. The AMA has long been a trusted source of insights for the marketing world and I consider it a real privilege to guide the organization into the frontiers that lie ahead. The AMA will continue to be a torchbearer in lighting up the pathways of change not only in the future state of marketing but commerce in general.”

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It's really no joke. One day, all media buying will be a done via programatic buying with nary a bit of involvement from human beings. And unlike the stock market -- also very automated -- which makes trades that actually matter as opposed to programmatic buys where if a mistake is made an ad simply doesn't appear, constant human supervision becomes irrelevant. Because in advertising, we just have the make good. In the stock market, consequences are a bit more dire. All of which is to say, it's no surprise agency after agency, much like Havas SA which just struck a programmatic deal with AOL, are automating as much as they can automate. Because, really, buying media is boring. And agencies hate boring. Winning a Cannes Lion on the other hand. Now that's where the excitement's at!
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4 comments about "Ad Industry Can't Decide Whether or Not TV is Dead".
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  1. Leonard Zachary from EquityStep , July 29, 2014 at 9:38 a.m.

    Richard,
    TV is certainly not dead with all the digital OTT streaming on that smart TV screen. The TV dying you refer is the bundled TV and retransmission/cable carriage rights business model- that will not hold with the 20-30 year olds. Good luck selling bundled TV in the not too distant future to the upcoming generation now 5 to 15 years old. The folks who rely on centralized government laws to protect their business model in a free market and very competitive digital world that is converging onto to the TV screen, are living on borrowed time.

  2. Robert Barrows from R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations , July 29, 2014 at 11:25 a.m.

    If TV continues being mostly reality TV, no one will care.

  3. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct , July 29, 2014 at 4:48 p.m.

    What's funny is that the statistics clearly show TV isn't dying nor is there any significant erosion. What IS happening is the ad people who desperately wish TV would die have become transcendent. Why do they want it dead? I think it's a combination of self-loathing (too many advertising people hate the idea that profitable client effectiveness is important) and a desperate search for their own unique story about why they're so cool. (And if digital media offer anything it's an infinite ability to take the same old thing and claim to clients you're doing something really break through and new. Sadly, there are a few too many clients who buy these pitches.)

  4. John Grono from GAP Research , July 29, 2014 at 5:15 p.m.

    The seers of the 'Death of TV' will be long gone before television is.

  • Hey Agencies, Here's 5 Reasons Why Startups Should Pay You More

    David Murdico, creative director and managing partner of Supercool Creative Agency puts forth a solid argument as to why startups should pay agencies more than brands do for the same work. 

    First of all, he notes a startup is an unknown entity and no one has ever heard of it before making it all the more difficult to create the necessary marketing program to achieve awareness and sale. He notes startups are generally more demanding than established brand marketers, often times because so much is at stake.

    Perhaps the biggest problem area when it comes to crafting marketing for a startup is that up until the point the startup reached out to an agency, everything about the startup has, thus far, operated in an echo chamber with scant few nodding and bobbing their heads in agreement without truly vetting the idea or how the idea will be perceived in the real world.

    Another challenge when working with a startup? They tend to change their mind a lot about, well, everything. And that can be a gigantic time suck. Check out Murdico's entire list here and file it away in your back pocket for use the next time you consider working with a startup.

  • This Consultant Argues CMOs, Not CFOs and COOs Should Rise to the Office of CEO

    Max Brand Equity President Richard Guha says marketers should own and run businesses. He notes that many CEOs are culled from the CFO and COO ranks rather than the CMO ranks. 

    Making the argument, he writes: "If Marketing were to do its job perfectly and customers were to come and buy, there would be no need for Sales. So if only Marketing could do its job perfectly, it would be the 'go-to' function in business. Yet, companies routinely look to the CFO or Head of Operations, who do not directly contribute to the key objective of the company when it comes to choosing a CEO instead of promoting the CMO to CEO. Why?

    Why, indeed? 

    Well, he says too many marketers rely on gut feel rather than sound, scientific analysis. He notes: "Engineers can’t [rely on gut feel], or bridges would collapse, buildings crumble, and machines fail. Marketers need to think more like good engineers than mere wielders of tools."

    Do marketers lack the ability to approach brand building in the manner Guha advocates? Or is the nature of marketing and advertising too "squishy" to be crafted with exactitude akin to engineering a bridge? Is it silly to even compare the two?
  • Tumblr Blog 'Mad Men Integrated' Envisions Mad Men Characters In the Digital Age

    This is gold! Gold, I tell you! And it's arrived just in time. As we all mourn the loss of our beloved Mad Men characters, they have been given renewed life, in the form of a Tumblr blog, as digital natives spewing all the usual buzzword bingo that's so prevalent in today's marketing landscape.

    Taking on the form of animated gifs, we have Don informing his secretary: "The future of advertising is socially integrated digital platforms." We have Peggy commending a co-worker saying: "Nice branded social post, bro." We have Don asking Peggy: "But does it work as a pre-roll." We have Don reacting to a proposed "Tinder-powered drone." We have Pete telling Don: "The CTRs need optimizing for behavioral targeting of Millennials." 

    And on and on and on. Brilliance.

  • Former Y&R Exec Heads To Children's Hospital Of Chicago

    Kary McIlwain, a 26-year veteran of Y&R, is heading to Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago in July taking the position of vice president of marketing. Since 2002, McIlwain has been president and North American managing partner of Y&R.

    Of Mcllwain, Children's Hospital President and CEO Patrick Magoon said: "We are excited to have a marketing executive of her caliber joining Lurie Children's. With her expertise and passion, Kary is the ideal leader to oversee our marketing efforts in support of the hospital's mission."

    Under McIlwain's tenure, Y&R was named 2014 Agency of the Year by the Chicago Advertising Federation. On joining Children's Hospital, Mcllwain adds, "I am thrilled to embark on this new phase in my career, to step out of the advertising agency world into promoting a mission-driven organization. Lurie Children's is a world class hospital that deserves world class recognition." 

    Linda Wolf, former chairman and CEO of Leo Burnett Company, chairs Lurie Children's Marketing Committee and said, "I have known Kary for many years and I have watched her grow into one of the top marketing executives in the country. Her deep knowledge of the advertising world and her track record of exceptional outcomes will greatly benefit Lurie Children's, one of Chicago's beloved institutions."
  • This McCann Mad Man Says Computers Have Destroyed Creativity

    Greg Birbil worked at McCann for over 40 years. He started in 1961 and retired ten years ago. In an interview with Vulture, he relives some memories from the Mad Men era of advertising but has no kind words for the current state of things, especially the use of technology in creative departments.

    Of that inevitable development, he says, "You know, I have a whole theory: I just think computers are not good for creative people. They’re a finishing-up tool, not the instrument to help you create. It’s not because I’m an old guy -- because I don’t respect or understand the value of the computer or the internet. It’s a pencil, an extremely fast pencil."

    He continues: "But the computer guys, at a digital agency, they’ve got their heads in the screen all day and have absolutely no human skills. An art director in the old days was dealing with typesetters, photographers, the client. These guys don’t. You’re looking to make people see things in a new way, and if you’re in there looking for stuff, that won’t happen."

    Is he right?
  • Really? Seriously? Now We Have The Chief Native Officer?

    Oh for f*ck's sake! Stop. Just please stop! Every ridiculous addition to the CxO title space just dumbs down the importance of the core four: CEO, CFO, COO and CIO. Maybe you can add CMO and CCO to that list -- but chief data officer? Chief customer officer? And now...wait for it...chief native officer?

    Yeah. Chief native officer. Or at least that's what Forbes Contributor Daniel Newman would like to see instituted. Newman argues that the merging of paid and earned media requires this CxO style oversight. 

    He furthers his point, writing: "The biggest reason to get a Native Officer is that while digital agencies and publishers work together, they don’t necessarily do so as a team. In fact, there are instances where they don’t see eye to eye. While publishers are great at creating content, they can treat branded content like a 'second-class citizen.' On the other hand, digital agencies consider themselves star content creators for brands. In such circumstances, there’s a pressing need for a 'dedicated task force' to exploit native ads to their fullest potential. The CNO should lead this pack, guiding the brand towards rewarding native advertising campaigns and best practices."

    So what say you? Do we need the chief native officer?

  • Further Ignoring Productivity Studies, 'Superwide' Office Space Is Now All the Rage

    Sort of like food brands still pimping low fat/no fat products when studies clearly indicate the human body needs fat, the office management world is still pimping open office space when many studies have shown it's a less productive solution than more traditional office space.

    That's not stopping the latest trend in office space, the Superwide. Superwide office space is large, one floor office space consisting of 100,000 square feet or more. Of the trend, Brookfield Property Partners Senior VP Duncan McCuaig said: “Large floors are absolutely in demand.” And “right now there is very little of this product in the city,” he added, referring to Manhattan.

    Adam Kansler, managing director at financial data company Markit, loves the open office concept and says: “There’s something that gets lost” when a company is on multiple floors. You don’t get the same random moments of seeing someone from across the way, hearing that they’re working on a project, and saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to stop by.’ ”

    Which, for some, is exactly the problem with the open office concept; constant interruptions and annoyances from co-workers who never shut up and have nothing better to do than run a constant stream of verbal diarrhea while you're trying to complete a project. 

    But that won't stop ad agencies from continuing to pile on this trend.
  • Former JWT Director Joins Gravity As Global Strategist

    Multicultural ad agency, Gravity, has named Rodrigo Alanis global strategist for the shop, which has offices in New York, Los Angeles and Paris.

    Alanis, who is fluent in Spanish, comes to Gravity from his start-up Optimistico where he served as founder and chief executive officer. He has been with Optimistico since 2009. Prior to that, Alanis served as director at JWT Inside for nine years and traveled  across the agency's multiple offices including New York and Dallas.

    Of Alanis, Gravity CEO Yuriy Boykiv, said: “Rod is a valuable addition to the Gravity team as we expand and strengthen our competencies in consumer insights, brand planning and analytics.

    Alanis has worked on campaigns for brands such as HSBC, JetBlue, Scholastic, Harry Potter, The U.S. Department of State, and the U.S. Marines.

    Of joining the agency, Alanis said, “Joining Gravity is a unique opportunity to bring my diverse experience in brand-led business growth strategy to the team and its clients. The agency has an iconic client list, and very, very talented people. I’m thrilled to be part of this growth opportunity.”
  • Copywriter Uses Instagram to Teach People How to Speak Foreign Languages

    Otavio Barbon, a copywriter at AKQA New York, has launched a personal project. It's called @The Polyglot, a profile on Instagram (and sister Web site) that teaches people how to spell and pronounce the most common words in six different languages.

    All voices used in the project -- which is a side gig and not associated with AKQA -- were recorded by native speakers, allowing for pronunciations that are accurate and natural...very different, Barbon says, from the robotic voices of most translation platforms.

    Of the project, Barbon said: “Instagram is actually a perfect platform for quick learning. Our idea with The Polyglot is to bring something useful to people’s feeds. It’s a simple, friendly way to introduce people to new languages and hopefully inspire them to learn more.”

    So the next time you have a meeting with a foreign client or overseas outpost of your agency, check out @The_Polyglot.
  • Campbell-Ewald to Defend Use of Unsolicited Text Messages For U.S. Navy to The Supreme Court

    Campbell-Ewald is hitting it big time. The Supreme Court will hear from the agency and consider whether the agency, which was hired by the U.S. Navy to boost recruitment, is immune from a lawsuit that claims it illegally authorized thousands of unsolicited text messages.

    The U. S. Supreme Court said Monday it will hear an appeal from Campbell-Ewald during which the agency will argue that federal contractors can't be sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

    The court appearance stems from a campaign the agency created for the U.S. Navy that involved the sending of text messages through a subcontractor to thousands of cell phones, including one belonging to Jose Gomez. Gomez says he never consented to receiving the texts and filed a class-action lawsuit.

    A federal appeals court rejected the company's claim that government contractors are immune from such lawsuits. The company also argues that Gomez can't pursue a class action because he refused an offer to settle the case.
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