by Andrea Wiley
The tenth anniversary of Inside Memphis Business presents an opportunity to reflect on the year it all began, 2006, which was a big one for me personally. I purchased my first house and my first new car, the advertising agency I worked for underwent a sizable acquisition/merger, and I got married. Of those milestones the only thing that remains in my life today is the car. I love that car, but it’s probably time to trade her in. Things change and they change quickly. The same principle applies to advertising and the media from which we get our information.
In 2006, “Crazy” by Gnarls Barkley was stuck in our heads due to its constant repetition on the radio. Many of us even had it playing on our MySpace pages. We couldn’t turn away from the nightly news and the trial of Mary Winkler, the soft-spoken mother of three girls who confessed to killing her preacher husband. And via tabloids in the checkout line and on entertainment television networks, we could not stop watching the train wreck that was Britney Spears. Her break-up with Kevin Federline via text message was a pivotal moment. He was quickly dubbed “Fed-Ex,” a nickname I’m sure was not appreciated by the corporate identity department of a certain global logistics firm headquartered in Memphis.
According to Advertising Age, just 10 years ago Internet advertising only accounted for 2.6 percent of all ad spending in the United States. It was 8th on the list behind direct mail at 19.8; newspaper, 17.7; broadcast television, 17.5; cable TV, 8.2; radio, 7.4; Yellow Pages, 5.3; and magazines, 4.6. Following Internet advertising on the list was out-of-home, 2.2; business pubs, 1.5; and all other media, 13.2.
Remember the Yellow Pages?
Today, instead of talking about Internet advertising, we refer to digital media, which includes desktop, mobile and native advertising, search engine and content marketing, video, social media, and many other categories developed and adopted daily. However, in 2006 there were significantly fewer online advertising options. In fact, Google had just launched its mobile advertising platform in the summer of that same year. The iPhone did not even release until 2007, and that changed everything.
According to eMarketer, digital advertising is expected to surpass TV in 2017, which will mark a major milestone for advertising. And in the digital category, mobile advertising will grow 38 percent in this year alone.
Because it is 2016, I am going to assume your company has an online presence. But I will not assume that it is strategically on brand, proactively interacting with your customers and potential customers with current content being updated daily and pushed out via multiple channels. Whether it is an in-house department or a third-party firm, if you don’t have a dedicated team handling your website, search engine marketing, email marketing, and social media, you are being left behind.
The stats above, however, do not indicate that your brand should only be online. While ad spending trends are pointing to digital as the top dog, it doesn’t mean you can abandon the other mixed breeds. Marketing always has been and always will be about the media mix. So get a good grasp on how your customers’ media habits have changed over the years, where they are today, and adapt accordingly.
There is still a place for magazine and newspaper, outdoor, broadcast and cable advertising, as well as direct mail and guerilla marketing. But you have to know where you are trying to go, what you want your customers to do, and what is going on in the world so your brand resonates with them on an emotional level.
Whether you realize it or not, pop culture affects advertising and advertising affects pop culture. Good ads created with a sense of timeliness and relevancy that make an emotional connection without blatantly telling the customer what to do or how to feel are the ones audiences relate to.
You don’t want your brand to be like Blockbuster in 2006, announcing “No late fees” in all its advertising, not realizing that Netflix had already appealed to their customers before they got off the couch by providing an easier, no-fuss option that fit into their busy lives.
So I guess it’s true: The more we change, the more we stay the same. IMB is celebrating 10 years because readers find valuable insights within its pages. Don’t let another decade pass by before your brand messaging is culturally relevant in your advertising, appealing to your customers in a thoughtful, emotional way via the right media mix, whatever it may become.
Andrea Wiley is director of account management at DCA, an advertising adjunct professor at the University of Memphis, and is president emeritus of the American Advertising Federation, Memphis.
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