Adweek Magazine and its parent company, Nielsen, have released a study that shows consumers believe in advertising, they accept advertising as a way of subsidizing other content and, in some cases, they actually like it.
They’ll use this to try to change the rush of money out of traditional advertising, and they won’t succeed.
In an article announcing results of the study, Adweek states that: “67 percent of respondents agree …. (including 14 percent agreeing “strongly”) that ‘Advertising funds low-cost and free content on the Internet, TV, newspapers and other media.’ Likewise, 81 percent agreed (22 percent strongly) that ‘Advertising and sponsorship are important to fund sporting events, art exhibitions and cultural events.’ ”
The only thing startling about this is that such a large percentage of people seem to understand the media business model.
Adweek also wrote: “Respondents also acknowledged that advertising is useful to them personally as they navigate the marketplace. For example, 67 percent agreed (14 percent strongly) that ‘By providing me with information, advertising allows me to make better consumer choices.’ Respondents even confessed to enjoying advertising, at least some of the time, with 66 percent agreeing (13 percent strongly) that ‘Advertising often gets my attention and is entertaining.'”
This means two things:
1) Adweek is doing its job; it is, after all, a magazine for the people who produce ads, plan campaigns and buy space for them. This study will be a tool used by readers to convince advertisers to shift money back from the new and social to more traditional ad campaigns.
That’s especially evidenced by this finding in the article: “And there was a lackluster rating for ‘ads served in search-engine results,’ with 4 percent trusting these completely and 37 percent somewhat. Ratings for old media were closely bunched, with TV getting a typical rating for these of 8 percent “trust completely” and 53 percent “trust somewhat.”
In other words, Google’s astoundingly ascendant paid search model — traditional media’s Great Satan — isn’t as effective as many believe. At least, that’s the kernal that media reps are likely to grab onto and use.
Which raises the second meaning of the information:
2) There are lots of highly respected voices in media and advertising who still don’t get it. The epochal media meltdown we’re experiencing has nothing to do with the opinions of consumers.
Advertisers aren’t pulling campaigns because they don’t work; they’re pulling campaigns because they can now do what they’ve always wanted to do: reach consumers directly without an intermediary media.
Back in another era — the Internet bubble of the late 1990s — this was called disintermediation.
Disintermediation is why people book flights directly with airlines rather than through travel agents; it’s why Progressive and Geico have a higher profile than the independent insurance agents who used to do most of the selling in their industry; it’s why people will visit a magazine advertiser’s website instead of filling out a reader-response card in the back of a magazine.
Disintermediation is a simple process of applying new technology to eliminate an old and costly middleman. Heck, media is the root of the word; is it really a surprise that media is now a target?
So it doesn’t matter if old advertising works; it ads a layer that is no longer necessary. Just as there are still travel agents and insurance agents, there will still be media — as we recognize it today — far into the future. But it will be smaller than it used to be, and it will find its success by serving niches.
You can download the full Nielsen study here: http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/trustinadvertising0709.pdf