Digital technology is having a seismic effect on media and publishing as we know it. The latest indication comes in the form of two separate studies.
The first, undertaken by Forrester Research, showed that viral advertising is a much more effective way of engaging consumers than traditional advertising. At the same time, the survey of some 1,000 U.K. Internet users showed that most are "increasingly fed up with advertising as a whole."
In my opinion, viral advertising is a great example of the power of word-of-mouth in the consumer decision-making process. Forrester survey respondents said they pass viral ads along to their friends because they either found them "funny" or thought the person(s) on the receiving line would "…..find the product or service of interest." How powerful is that?
The Forrester survey also proved what many of us instinctively knew all along: consumers are becoming increasingly disenchanted with traditional advertisng. Just five percent of survey respondents believed that companies tell the truth in their ads, compared to eight percent two years ago. I sure hope marketers wake up and look at those percentages again. Talk about a poor ROI.
Digital has changed the communications model. Advertising’s approach of talking "at" consumers, instead of engaging in a dialogue "with" them is the industry’s Achilles Heel. Until the advertising moguls adapt to the sea changes underway, they’ll continue to see their model slip sliding away.
I found another survey equally fascinating. This one was undertaken on behalf of Parade Magazine, and revealed that one-third of Americans surveyed no longer read the Sunday papers. Respondents cited time constraints, lack of home delivery, a preference for TV news (ugh), and general lack of interest, period, as reasons why they bypass the Sunday papers.
In its own way, the Parade Magazine poll should be just as much of a wake-up call for newspaper publishers as the Forrester findings should be for ad moguls.
The times, they certainly are a changing. And, it’ll be fascinating to see how the advertising and traditional publishing sectors deal with the severe challenges to their previous, near monopolistic positions. In the meantime, public relations and non-traditional media continue to be the benefactors of the changing landscape.