Take Your Medicine And Check Your Diet

Around 14 years ago, I went to a doctor for allergies.  He looked at me and asked: “Is your father still alive?”

I said, “No, actually, how did you know?” 

He responded, “I know so many boys your age (to him, I was a boy) whose fathers have died.  We’re going to get you a cholesterol test.”

Sure enough, I had high cholesterol.  My doctor said, “Don’t worry.  If we had the medicines we have now when your dad was alive, he’s still be with us.  We’re going to take care of you.”

I took that doctor’s advice and my cholesterol dropped.  I could still get hit by a car or struck by lightning, but I don’t think I’ll succumb to a heart attack due to total coronary obstruction.

To me, this sort of summarizes what most political media buyers are facing.  They’ve been doing things one way for so long, and it’s worked for them. I’m sure they’ll enjoy their cheese fries for at least another cycle. Digital is the killer that whispers.

But things are changing.  We have science now that shows that the old ways are maybe maladaptive to our current environment. Most media buyers are running their shops – with a few exceptions – like it was 2004.

The last time a Republican won a presidential election, news sites were probably the most influential outlets on the Web for voters.  Only 65% of adults owned cell phones (compared to over 90% today) and there were no smartphones or tablets.  There was no Twitter, and Facebook was still “the facebook” limited to college students.  Some 3% of households had DVRs, while now more than 70%  have DVRs, Netflix or some video on demand services.

But some things haven’t changed that much.  Total TV viewing for the Super Bowl has actually grown from around 90 million viewers to 111 million viewers.  Certainly, no reason to abandon TV just yet — as some are suggesting.

But a trend we are seeing: Consumers are getting their daily information from a number of sources –TV to laptops, cell phones to tablets to gaming consoles.  And as marketers, our sole reliance on one or two forms of media is not only shortsighted – in politics, where there is no second place, it could be fatal.

A campaign that relies on essentially the same approach it ran 10, four, or even two years ago isn’t being responsive to the changing device and media landscape that has overtaken all marketers — be it consumer-packaged goods financial services or politics.  But there’s hope.

Today, we know we need to eat right and exercise to maximize our chances of long-term survival.  In media, that means diversifying our portfolio and measuring the effectiveness of all forms of outreach and allocating resources based on our goals.

We have a responsibility to ourselves and our clients to examine the  most effective ways of reaching voters — print, TV, billboards, direct mail, or an inclusive multiformat multiscreen strategy.  And this represents a challenge and an opportunity.

Before 2016, proactive agencies and consultants will use a data-driven approach to reach voters who matter and turn out more of them than those using a single channel.  Their success will be measured, well-documented and publicized, and they will win more business in 2015, 2016 and beyond. 

We have already seen the proof: Those who successfully harnessed the latest technologies in 2012’s political campaigns.

Go get a checkup.  Even better, get a second opinion.  If you don’t like what you hear, you have every right to disregard it and keep doing what you’ve been doing.  You could still get lucky and beat the odds.

But wouldn’t you rather be smart than lucky?


Next story loading loading..