A Message For The Vocal Minority In Marketing

It’s 2017. Can we finally stop arguing about whether the 30-second spot is relevant or not?

Here is the final statement on this topic: The definition of TV may be changing, and deservedly so, but the currency of the 30-second TV spot as the primary vehicle for monetizing video is not going the way of the dinosaur.  

It is the gold standard of advertising, and every other format is compared to it.  It wins awards and is widely talked about every day by consumers, whether you think they do or not.  

An advertiser may slice or dice it into 15 seconds, 60 seconds, and in some cases even five-second portions.  The industry may speak to attention in terms of two seconds or a half second or whatever metric you feel is best.  They may look at it as pre-roll or mid-roll, or even post-roll, which seems like a fait accompli.  

Regardless of what way you view it, the answer is the same: The 30-second spot is the foundation of TV advertising.



I see articles proclaiming the death of the 30-second spot from people looking to stoke the controversy of video, but  I rarely if ever see the folks who have the money making these statements.  

As an industry, we need to focus on the voices of the people who have the most leverage,  who have the budgets and who are responsible for creating brand engagement with the consumer.  These are the folks whose opinions matter the most, but unfortunately these are the people who write the least.  

Sure, you can get brands to be on stage at conferences and engage in meaningful conversation, but those words fall on a smaller audience.  How does the industry get to highlight the folks who have the most important opinions?  How do you get these people to drive the conversation in the most appropriate direction?

These self-same digital-first pundits need to offer less controversy and more strategy for brands to react to.  

I get it. I’ve been writing this column for 17 years, and sometimes my headline is intended to elicit a response. Sometimes I’m trying to get people riled up so they read further.  

Most of the time, though, I try to offer a valid and substantive opinion to get people to engage on a topic that I think is interesting and valuable.  Most of the time I’m more concerned with ensuring a topic moves forward rather than simply create impressions.  

Not everyone agrees with this tactic.  Sometimes they like to stir it up simply to be self-serving and to establish their personal brand.  I don’t believe that works out in the long run.

Look at Bill Maher.  That guy opens his mouth and steps in it routinely, further selecting a smaller audience and a less impactful position in the market.  I never want to be known as the Bill Maher of digital marketing.  I don’t know anyone who would.

The trade press needs to find ways to tap into marketers and brands more directly, engaging with them on the topics of the day.  What about fostering more brand research into the topics being talked about in the press and offering brand-centric briefings that aggregate the collective viewpoint of those brands and serves it up for the rest of the industry to hear?  

What about fostering sharing sessions between brands, where tech companies can be a fly on the wall and listen for their own opportunity and benefit?  

As we head into Cannes — an event that is full of brands speaking in a casual setting — how do we foster that same type of environment for everyone to be a part of?

Someone smarter than me is probably already working on these ideas.  If not, I welcome you to get started.  This is the kind of dialogue we all need to further the industry: more of those whose opinions truly matter, and less of what few of us truly believe.

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