On Friday, following months of obituaries for conventional interruptive marketing and speculation about a “double dip recession” that would lead to reduced consumer spending, came a startling piece of news.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the four largest television networks had sold out their fall seasons for prices 9% to 15% higher than 2010.
Why were major marketers, well aware of all this news, willing to pay increased prices to run television ads?
It’s because as the chief marketing officer at ETrade has observed, a television commercial is“30 seconds long, and one mile wide.” Run a pretty good television commercial and what happens? You phones ring and your stores, showrooms and websites see increased traffic.
That’s one reason why this year’s Super Bowl spots sold out months before the game. GoDaddy.com and Volkswagen ran Super Bowl commercials because they thought they could make happen just what did happen: increases in their website traffic of 41% and 27% respectively. (Plus Volkswagen’s Darth Vader commercial pulled in 36,800,000 YouTube viewers in just the four weeks following the game.)
Is there another medium that rings our bells like that? Not even close. It’s also worth considering that two of 2010′s most effective social media campaigns –Old Spice’s “Look at Your Man” and Dos Equiz’s “Most Interesting Man in the World”–started and continue on television. The Old Spice YouTube spots are repeats or followups to the television commercials.
Doesn’t this suggest that the arrival of social media actually makes television commercials more effective, by exposing the ads to tens of millions of people on YouTube–at no cost to the advertiser?
I once resented advertising. I groaned at the interruptions; sometimes I still do. At college one afternoon, I ripped out all of the ads in a Time magazine to see how skinny the actual magazine really was (it looked anorexic). But conventional advertising works–even if we think it shouldn’t.
We can argue that no intelligent person should be influenced by advertising, but almost every intelligent person is. Jonah Lehrer, for example.
Lehrer, a man bright enough to win a Rhodes Scholarship, recently confessed to his realization that CocaCola had convinced him that he drank bottles of Coke at his high school football games. He could not have; his school forbade the sale of drinks in glass containers.) Television, including its commercials, profoundly affects how we think and feel.
Out with the old? Perhaps one day, but certainly not yet, as these shrewd marketers tell us. And if you want to bet on the survival of television as the world’s most effective advertising medium, count me as “all in.”