They are headed for less glitzy media. Perhaps you could call it even conventional and conservative -- The Internet.
The news last week was that Mitsubishi Motors is abandoning network television due to high prices, declining viewership, and suspect results. What most press accounts missed is that the car company is still spending millions on commercials for television -- on national cable, local cable and national spot television.
But those aren't the real growth areas.
Internet advertising jumped 40 percent during the first six months of 2004 $4.6 billion. That means by the end of this year the Internet is on pace to tally up $9.2 billion -- which coincidentally is the amount spent by advertisers during the 2004-05 prime-time upfront network advertising marketplace. The prime-time network upfront represents 80% of all prime-time advertising revenues for the networks.
These Internet billions way overshadow the millions or so spent on branded entertainment or even the $600 million spent on cross-platform deals arranged by special selling divisions at Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc, Time Warner, or NBC Universal. That $9.2 billion take will also be more than the $6 billion cable networks grabbed during the 2004-05 cable upfront sales season.
The dirty little secret among marketers isn't that they are wrapped up in spending hundreds of millions of dollars in new fangled areas such as branded entertainment. Mitsubishi are only experimenting, highlighting its media buys with a high-profile product placement deals like that on NBC's "The Restaurant" last season.
Marketers still need a media is that quick, liquid, and agile for their messaging. Branded entertainment has none of this, nor does it give marketers any critical mass to do business with. Television still has this qualities, and, right now, so does the Internet.
TV producers and marketers are trying to remedy the threat of digital recorders -- that can skip over commercials -- by embedding advertisers' messages in and around actual TV programming.
But that's not it. Marketers are actually seeking something more tangible in non-traditional TV venues: a medium that still has the look and feel of the business they are familiar with. In the future, that means messaging with set-top boxes opening screens, video-on-demand, digital recorder menu pages, electronic program guides, and TV-related websites.
Right now, it all starts with old-fashioned Internet advertising.