Advocates of the 30-second TV commercial have to be scratching their heads after the release of a new McKinsey study showing that, by the year 2010, traditional TV advertising will only be one-third as effective as it was in 1990. Ouch! McKinsey bases its evaluation on a projected 23 percent decline in ads due to bored or irate consumers switching off their sets, a nine percent loss due to increased multitasking (I can relate to that) and a 37 percent decrease in message impact due to saturation.
McKinsey says real ad spending on TV commercials has increased in the last decade by 40 percent while viewership has decreased by 50 percent. As a result, Corporate America is paying more for less. Why? Because, at least for now, no one is going to get fired for suggesting TV commercials as part of a marketing program. But, the McKinsey study was sent to the firm’s Fortune 100 clients (and I’ll bet it’s being noticed by the C-suite).
Happily, the times they are a changing. As a result, we’re seeing more and more smart, savvy marketers de-coupling their old, antiquated traditional advertising spends and reallocating money towards PR, viral marketing and other forms of one-to-one communications.
And, if all this news wasn’t bad enough for traditional advertising purists to digest, the McKinsey study also points to an even scarier future: teenagers spend less than half as much time watching TV as typical adults do and 600 percent more time surfing the web. Someone on Madison Avenue better wake up and change the model pronto.
But wait, there’s more. A new book called "What sticks: why most advertising fails and how to guarantee yours succeeds" by Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart, a couple of research guys, says 37 percent of all advertising is wasted. The authors blame the failure on marketers, rather than ad agencies, and say there are ways to make traditional advertising more effective. The authors also say the biggest reason why traditional marketers still cling to traditional advertising is fear of failure and being fired. They say many marketers allocate wads of money to traditional advertising simply because their competitors do.
Is this any way to run a railroad? To borrow from a time worn football phrase, "It’s third-and-long" for the advertising industry. Will they wake up and embrace alternative marketing, or cling stubbornly to the "safer" traditional approaches? In my opinion, the latter strategy will end up with the industry being "sacked, and forced to punt" to more nimble, future-focused marketing disciplines.