Who’s Listening?

Every time I write an article or send out a newsletter, I wonder who is on the other end and is anyone really listening? Take a look at this study that was released this month: a six-week mixed media Unilever campaign for Dove Nutrium bar soap concluded that by allocating 15% of the Dove ad budget to online marketing, Dove was able to lift brand awareness by 24%.

According to Forester Research’s Jim Nail, “findings show that by increasing the online part of the Unilever campaign to 15%, the marketer was able to burn the brand into consumers' minds much better than if they hadn't used an online component in the same advertising media mix."

And yet a Unilever spokesperson, interviewed by AdAge, refused to say whether the findings will entice them to spend more online, saying only that they plan to “further investigate the benefits of cross-channel marketing and the opportunities that online provides in our marketing mix."

I thought the study was the investigation. Exactly how much more research is needed here? Why doesn’t Unilever investigate the fact that by not re-allocating their marketing mix they are decreasing the brand awareness of their products by 24%.



In a report released this month from the US Department of Commerce entitled “A NATION ONLINE: How Americans Are Expanding Their Use of the Internet”, a few eye opening statistics came to light. For instance, Internet usage grows by 2 million new people a month. Over half the nation is now connected to the Internet and 88% of those homes with incomes over $75K are online. 75% of ages 14-17 use the Internet and 65% of kids ages 10-13. 83% of online adults have a college degree. 39% of Internet users buy products online. 35% search for health care info. 35% of the entire US population uses the Internet to search for product information.

How many people use TV to search for product information?

So let’s get this straight. Nearly 40% of the online population buys stuff right there, online. Over a third of the US population as a whole uses the Internet to learn about products. There is proof that increasing online spending to 15% of the overall media mix increases Brand Awareness by 24%. And yet….less than 2% of media budgets are being spent on-line, while at the same time 10-15% of people’s media time is being spent online.

Shouldn’t someone be fired? Is anyone listening?

And we haven’t even added Rich Media to the argument. Recently a friend who works for a major entertainment company told me she increased her response rate 200% by just adding Macromedia Flash to the creative. Grey Direct reports a 400% increase in conversions for one of their clients by using Rich Media email over plain HTML.

But while coverage of these facts is out there, Brand Managers don’t seem to be getting the news. Someone on a private newsgroup that I’m part of suggested that because online advertising spending has gone down, coverage has also gone down. And there is a lot of truth to this.

Publications like the Industry Standard are gone and interactive coverage in Adweek, Adage, Brandweek, and other main stream marketing pubs is almost non-existent. You can roll a bowling ball down the middle of most Internet advertising related conferences. And so while the facts pile up, advertisers and marketing managers are still using last year’s news, last year’s set of assumptions: that the Internet is dead, that advertising on the Internet doesn’t work. Assumptions are just dead wrong and getting more wrong by the day.

Today most consumers of advertising live in a Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde world. The Jekyll world of carefully crafted Television messaging and images is being mangled in the Hyde and seek wasteland of uninspired, disassociate online marketing.

The message just isn’t getting out. And so I wonder if anyone is listening. Are we all preaching to some isolated Waco-like choir while the congregation remains deaf and dumb.

I don’t know. But some days I know how Moses felt, wondering in the desert for 40 years. Here’s a note in a bottle for you: advertising online works. I hope you get this message before it’s too late.

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