Of course, analytics for the media industry have improved greatly since John Wanamaker started advertising in newspapers. Marketers have an arsenal of tools at their disposal, including research, and a slew of new media with which to identify and reach their customers, all of which seem to get them closer to answering Wanamaker's query.
But despite modern-day analytics, every CMO is still chasing the "Media Grail" of proving ROI and efficiency. Perhaps as new media were born and consumer choices grew, the answer to the Wanamaker question became more elusive.
Traditional media have now become affectionately referred to as "old media" by the new digerati of the Internet age.
Ah! The Internet -- the most transformational medium of all. Why? Because all other media can be accessed, distributed and, theoretically, measured better through it. Applying the power of mathematics to target more effectively, measure response rates, build communities, and engage on a one to one basis should lead us closer to answering Wanamaker's question than ever before. But is that enough? I say no, no, no.
Yes, the potential is there like never before, but it is incumbent on the digital world to build a bridge between the success of the past and the vision of the future by developing metrics that speak the language of "old media" - if they want to be considered for a bigger piece of a brand's budget.
Remember cable's "5% Solution and Media at the Millennium" -- a study by Turner Broadcasting? These studies went a long way toward proving that taking media away from broadcasting and re-placing it on cable increased reach against the target audience more efficiently. You can take issues with these studies, but the point is that building a better mousetrap is not enough. The digital world cannot sit back and wait for brand money to move enmasse into their environment -- they must earn it.
According to comScore, there were 10 billion video streams last month. Where is the study that shows that brands can move money from their current TV budget to a fully distributed video ad network and prove an increase in reach against a target audience?
I have heard the pitch a million times, even made it myself, that online video offers the power of sight, sound and motion coupled with the power of the Internet's targetability, measurability and interactivity. But where are the metrics and processes that allow a marketer to compare digital delivery to traditional media in a way that instigates intelligent decisions? Where is the acknowledgment that brands care about the environment in which they appear?
Many sites that serve video can't recoup the cost of serving that video -- so their solution is to expect high CPMs without targeting capability and guaranteeing demographics to marketers. This is not realistic, I say we need to earn what we are asking for and stop asking marketers to solve issues that result from flawed business models. If the Internet is a targeted medium, well, let's target and guarantee against demographic impressions for video. There's no doubt that online video is better positioned to finally provide the answer to Wanamaker's question -- so he can rest in peace. It simply requires the digerati to get to work and prove that "old media" can be supplemented -- not replaced -- by a healthy dose of a brand's budget that leverages the emotional power of sight, sound and motion more effectively. Get to these answers -- and perhaps, modern day CMOs can rest in peace as well.