Why TV Programmers Won't Take Marketing Lessons From The Internet

This is why TV programmers should never become Reunion.com.

Somehow I was tricked -- my own fault -- into believing I was setting up a quick account at social network area Reunion.com -- all to access our company's holiday party photos. I assumed it would be a fast way to get what I needed. I'm sure I didn't read the fine print.

Instead, my password was used to access my email, through which spam was sent -- and continues to be repeatedly sent -- to all my contacts. The killer here is the messages continue to come not from Reunion.com, but apparently from me.

Nice marketing move -- except everyone on my list has been complaining about repeated efforts by Reunion.com to make them join up. Does that curry positive consumer feelings about Reunion? Nah. It does little for me as well. Sure, there's lot of spam floating around out there. Just do your daily deleting.

Lawsuits have been filed against the company -- but they have been thrown out because there's no apparent financial harm. The company says, "Hey, we didn't make them do it." True.

In this aggressive digital media universe, every sliver, every piece of consumer dust, is used to scale up businesses. We get that business model. The kicker is that Reunion.com goes to a different social networking crowd -- an older one -- which in theory works in the site's favor, especially as those potential consumers are typically less savvy to the ways of Internet spam.

This is where privacy and future set-top box information can collide. Imagine some future social network/TV program technological platform, where someone suggests a TV show to their friends.

In the ever-fractionalized world of TV programmers, businesses are fighting the same battles. Right now many call such TV efforts "permission" marketing. For example, want to learn more about Fox's "Lie To Me"? You can see a free preview on TiVo.

Years from now, it'll be tough-luck, you're-in-my-way marketing. You'll get previews of shows whether you want it or not. Turn on your TV, you'll have no choice but to see that new NBC drama before you watch "Desperate Housewives: Retirement Cougars." Waiting in traffic? Perhaps some holographic ads will pop up on your windshield.

Recently, TV show sponsor AT&T sent text messages to millions of "American Idol" viewers, reminding them of the new season of the show. This didn't have "Idol" fans all singing a happy song.

How far will TV programmers go in the future? Can they afford to piss off potential viewers? Word-of-mouth marketing goes a long way in entertainment/media circles. Best not to break that delicate bond; otherwise you'll have people angrily talking -- and writing.

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5 comments about "Why TV Programmers Won't Take Marketing Lessons From The Internet ".
  1. Jaymi Curley from Matlock Advertising & Public Relations , January 22, 2009 at 1:07 p.m.

    Hey, nice going, Reunion.com. I had never heard of this social networking site until now. Now Reunion.com is permanently on my radar as a spammer. In the 5 minutes it took me to read this account, I now have a negative association that no amount of marketing will be able to dislodge. And I when I read the part about how Reunion.com markets to an older online crowd, I immediately sent email warnings to all my friends and family, including my mom and aunt who are at varying levels of online savvy. I guarantee you that those two lovely Southern women will have spread the news to the four corners of the earth by this time tomorrow. So, really, good move Reunion. In an age where blogs and cell phones rule, and a company reputation can be demolished as fast as fingers can type or text, do you really think it is smart to rely on spamtactics to get your name out there?

  2. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston , January 22, 2009 at 2:13 p.m.

    I agree. Thanks for the heads-up on reunion.com

    We have a do-not-call list. I'm sure Obama and a Democrat-led majority can enact a do-not-spam list.

  3. Rebecca Rachmany from AdsVantage , January 22, 2009 at 2:47 p.m.

    I actually think you've argued the opposite, that is, why TV programmers *will* take marketing lessons from the Internet. As media becomes more transparent, and the long tail gets longer, people simply won't have to view your programming. If you are obnoxious, people will hear a about it quickly and avoid you.

    The public will become less naive about how to block you as well. The younger generation is tuned in on the technological advances in tuning out annoying approaches. The older generation simply calls up their kid to ask them to install whatever needs to be installed to avoid it.

    Right now, content providers, in particular broadcasters, wield a tremendous amount of power in the industry. As choices open up, their power will diminish, and the best will survive. The best will market using appropriate and effective methodologies, not in ways that make people simply hate them.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , January 22, 2009 at 4:50 p.m.

    When a site such as reunion.com uses the wrong name for me, I know it is scam-spam. Give yourself an initial. But you are so right.

  5. Michael Durwin from Social Media & Online Consultant , January 23, 2009 at 2:02 p.m.

    Great argument as to why networks should learn the lessons of Internet marketing, but we all know they don't get it. It's as if they function in a bubble like politicians! But, never fear, they'll learn soon enough, probably the hard way. Us Internet marketers are steamrolling over old school thinking.