The reason it's a good thing is that most marketing bucks are spent on depreciating messaging. Either the medium is failing to deliver the numbers it used to or the creative is ignored by the target audience. Think about it. Most marketing teams are investing in a product that has gone down in value for the past 30 years, that product being network television. Their outlets, primarily VHF TV stations, have dropped in value every year for 20 years, and it would be virtually impossible to get funding to purchase a group of stations today. No investment banker will touch them. Why? Because they are falling in value.
No, smart investors put their money in companies that are increasing in value. They look at trends and try to place the investments on upward movement. And the biggest growth trend in media, in revenue and audience use is online video. It will grow 51% between now and 2013. And though marketers know this, it's still a small category at $878 million this year. That's the perfect time to invest: A category on a significant growth curve, but still a small number of users. As an investor, that means you can command a big stake. As a marketer, it means you have a smooth beach on which to paint the picture. No clutter.
Many brands try to embrace so-called new advertising media. They test them with "experimental" budgets. Don't waste that money. While it may be a pacifier that gives you permission to say you are trying new outlets, the tiny amounts spent typically prove nothing. All they do is offer brands the ability to say "we are trying new things." Meanwhile, they continue to spend most of their money on depreciating messaging. From the moment they commit a budget against a downward medium to the moment it is delivered, that medium has diminished in delivery capabilities every single day.
When virtually every public corporation has reported down earnings the past year, part of the equation must be marketing. Why would a marketing plan that worked to attract an audience in 1968 work today? It doesn't. Yet, if you look at the spending pie of most corporations, it is identical to 1968 with maybe 5% cut out for the Internet. You'll see charts that show big jumps in online investment, that's true. But rare is the chart showing big cuts in other media in order to place the money online. In short: today's marketing investments have not caught up with the reality of how much time people spend online.
Online video is that new medium; it is that new reality. Online video comes with a keyboard, a mouse, low-quality speakers and often a built-in user camera. That's not TV. But it's far more powerful.
The power comes from the emotional entanglement of video and audience. Online video is truly not a complete experience unless the viewer reacts, responds, writes, shoots. Just try to get a person watching TV to physically react -- they want another soda and to turn up the air conditioner. Online viewers have paid for a box that has a keyboard; they expect to be able to use the keyboard.
Online webstars are best at reaching 18-34-year-olds online. Brands looking to reach them first need to recognize a change has happened, and that investment in online video is no longer a quirky experiment but the most powerful medium they've got.