Commentary

More Musings On Media

If the theory that the highly coveted 18-49 year old demographic is no longer hooked to television is true, then what are they doing?

Every article points to the fragmentation of their time. They spend more time online and watching DVDs and playing video games. They are increasingly Tivo-ing and utilizing more on-demand programming. They are watching HBO and Showtime originals. They are valuing their time more and more and as a result are being more discriminating. They are reading magazines and they are focusing on the media that brings their interests directly to them.

The fragmentation of media is what is forcing this situation and it comes as no surprise to many of the fortune tellers and trend analysts that predict the future of media. But the question is how will this affect advertising and media planning as we move farther into the future?

First of all, we now can point to data that proves our hypothesis was correct. The audience is focusing its time on the media that speaks most directly to their "wants" and "needs." What is interesting about this is that we can start to analyze the media they use not only based on their presence (composition) but also on their involvement. If the audience is paying closer attention to the media they are choosing due to its personal relevance to them, then what affect does this have on the effectiveness of the marketing that is exposed to them? Will the ads they see be considered more effective because they are more engaged or will the product placement within the shows they are viewing be more effective than in the shows they are not engaged with?

A second factor to think about is what affect does this fragmentation have on the strategy behind media planning. I mentioned last week that I felt that Reach and Frequency are becoming outdated terms. What I think is of more importance might be the theory behind what the New York Times had coined previously as a Surround Session. The model of a Surround Session, whereby the user's experience would be owned by a single advertiser on a single site, is intriguing as it associates the advertiser with the experience, which can be a positive and a negative. But if the advertiser and the publisher are responsible and exert some control over the content, then the experience is certainly positive and one that will have a stronger impact on the audience's mindset.

Many have theorized that the future of marketing lies in the development and control of content; if content-on-demand is also part of the future, than what is to stop the advertisers from being the sources of the content and cutting the publishers out entirely? If the advertisers develop the content, then the experience is truly one of a Surround Session where the advertiser is responsible for what is exposed to the audience. In the interim, media planners are looking for ways to track behavior of the audience and more accurately convey their messages along the path of their experience across media so as not to waste any of the dollars they have to work with. This is a stepping-stone to the content model, which is still seems a few years away from being everyday practice.

Of course it is possible (though highly improbable) that the audience is not missing, but rather than the methodology for tracking them has been corrupted. I know that the message boards will feature at least one response around this, but I don't buy it. The simple fact is that we have too many options now and too many options translates into fragmentation of the audience.

How are you working these models into your new round of campaign planning?

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