Sunday, May 20, 2012

Great (Not Just Good) Times Are Ahead for Marketers

The advertising and marketing communities are at a most interesting juncture as we catapult into the second half of 2004.By all measures, the economy is booming. Pure GDP growth is averaging 4-5%, inflation is relatively tame, productivity is healthy, job growth is finally kicking in and corporate profits are surging. We should all feel great, right?

Strangely, however, there appears to be a current of caution and hesitancy. Perhaps it's the pessimism emanating from the Iraq war, or the increasingly negative tone of the presidential campaign or simple wariness from the advertising recession. But by now, I would have expected far more buoyancy and optimism.

No matter. Call me the eternal optimist but I do believe great (not good) times are ahead. There is clearly a head of steam that's building - and I think that is superb news for all advertisers and marketers. What impresses me is what I'll call, for the moment, "marketing investment discipline". Yes, budgets are expanding and there is clearly more money devoted to brand building and improving customer touch points. But these investments are being done in a far more controlled and "scientific" way as marketers seek to optimize business performance.

Perhaps it's a reaction to the excesses of the past but accountability is truly beginning to resonate - and as Martha might say, "this is a good thing". Marketing investments are far more targeted and focused than ever before - and that will only increase over time. As media tools become more "addressable", marketers will be channeling their budgets against those vehicles that reach specific target audiences - like pet lovers, or parents with babies, or male beer drinkers.

The "de-massing" of media has taken place. Marketers are beginning to look at untargeted spending as wasteful and unproductive. And marketers are increasing their focus at using media that will permit greater measurement of business performance. That's why the Internet is becoming the media of increasing choice. That's why addressable television and "enhanced TV are gaining favor. That's why the radio industry is pursuing accountability with a vengeance. That's why the ANA and AAAA are pushing Ad ID to track all media assets. That's why procurement departments are evaluating agency budgets. Yes, there is quite a bit going on that's going to benefit all marketers in the near and long term.

You know John Wanamaker; we may yet figure out which half of our advertising spending is wasted. And we may have that figured out real soon.

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