Gain Fame, Not Infamy, With Bold Advertising

August 3, 2016

Almost every American knows one date from 1941 – Dec. 7, the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, which President Franklin correctly described as “a date which will live in infamy.”

Far fewer people know what happened on July 1, 1941. That was the date of the first television advertisement. It was a 10-second spot for watchmaker Bulova that cost $9 and reached an estimated 3,000 people.

Much has changed in the 75 years since then. Today, television advertising is a $70 billion business in the United States, and the average 30-second national commercial costs $112,000.

Nielsen, the media measurement firm, estimates that the average adult spends 35 hours a week watching live and time-shifted television programming. Plus, we are listening to AM-FM radio 13 hours per week, and we are using apps or visiting websites on our smartphones for 11.5 hours.

Let’s just say we are a media-obsessed, multi-tasking society.

Online publisher eMarketer estimates that by 2018, the average adult in the U.S. will spend more than six hours per day using digital media, two hours on a laptop or desktop, almost four hours watching television, and 90 minutes listening to radio. And these are just the broadcast and digital channels we will be using.

In total, the projection is that we’ll be using media for more than 12 hours per day in just two years.

Of course, demographics play a role in how we consume media.

Nielsen studies have been tracking television-viewing habits by age group for more than five years. The latest reports show consumers 65 years and older watch 51.5 hours a week, whether in real time or time-shifted. In a testament to the “cord-cutting” phenomenon, 40 percent of people ages 18-24 watch television via streaming video instead of broadcast channels.

Many advertising plans are built on the need to produce “reach” for a client’s messaging. Broadly defined, reach is the media’s ability to deliver a message to an audience demographic.

Nielsen reports that radio is the most effective medium to reach U.S. adults.  Radio reaches 92.6 percent of all adults ages 18+ each week. By comparison, television hits 88 percent, TV-connected devices reach 44 percent and smartphones reach more than three-quarters of all adults.

“Radio is not only strong, but still growing and not being cannibalized by newer streaming alternatives. It’s all about stability, across demographics, as well as day parts,” said Stacey Lynn Schulman, executive vice president of analytics and research for Katz Media Group, in trade publication Inside Radio. 

Marketers are continuing to refine their advertising investment strategies. The recent Entertainment and Media Outlook Report from PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC) predicted marketers will invest $73 billion in television advertising this year.

Other media spending predictions were $68.1 billion in Internet advertising, $18.8 billion in newspapers, $17.8 billion in radio and $16.8 billion in consumer magazines.

Rounding out the media landscape are out-of-home media at $9.2 billion, trade magazines at $4.6 billion and cinema at $0.9 billion this year.

Looking forward to 2020, PwC projects Internet advertising spending to grow at an annual compound rate of 9.4 percent, compared to 3.2 percent for television.

In the last 75 years, competing for consumers’ attention has become increasingly challenging. My advice to marketers is to innovate, much like Bulova did in 1941. Advertising innovators are destined for fame, not infamy.

 

Li Brown