$208 per listener/viewer

NPR stations have been doing their pledge drive lately.  One of their appeals for members said that roughly $45 Billion is spent each year on TV and radio adverts.  This equates to $208 per viewer/listener per year they say.  They rather neatly point out that this money comes from the viewers and listeners as they buy the products that get advertised and some of that money is then spent on that advertising.  They then go on to point out that some of your $208 is spent with radio stations you hate.  Good point.  Indeed I hate commercial radio for the most part because of the ads, which is why I listen to NPR most of the time.  This got me thinking though.  If the average listener/viewer has $208 spent on them each year for TV and radio adverts, then I’d assume they get about the same again from all the other paid advertising approaches such as print ads, online ads, billboard ads and sponsorships.  That means that each of us is spending roughly $400 a year to persuade ourselves to buy things.

This number may seem high or low depending on how you look at it.  To me the number looks very low when I think of how many products and services a year that I buy.  I’d guess I buy products and services from over 100 brands a year.  That means they each get roughly $4 a YEAR of my money to spend on advertising to me.  Which means the adverts would need to be pretty darned amazing don’t you think?  Put another way, it seems  almost pointless to spend money on advertising…


Why social media is a measure of media consumption

Yesterday I wrote about how social media is increasing the value of traditional media.  It occurred to me today that social media also offers a great way to determine the level to which news from traditional media is ‘consumed.’  For example a news story that gets tweeted by 50 people has been ‘consumed’ by those 50, not just noticed.  If you follow this logic you could create an interesting set of metrics that look at the degree to which certain news items are blogged, tweeted etc.  You could then look to see if certain publications, or certain editors, or certain topics score better than others.  I appreciate that like all metrics there would be ways to influence the results but I suspect it would create a very useful way of assessing the power of media sources over time.


Traditional media is getting more important as fewer people read it

Traditional media is shrinking.  This shrinkage isn’t yet to a point where it will die any time soon but as we all know the media is becoming an ever smaller universe.  Online readership is doing far better than print but still the overall trend is towards a smaller media landscape.  So does that mean as PR people we should care proportionally less about the media?  It could be argued that we should, since people are spending their time doing other things than reading the news or watching TV.  I’d argue the opposite however.  I believe that even though fewer people are subscribing to newspapers or watching the daily news on TV, that traditional media has not lost its position of power when it comes to influencing consumer behavior.  While the number of people that may read an original article may be falling, the potential influence of that article is potentially greater.  Only 20 years ago the idea of seeing a news article and forwarding it to 100 people was at best a time consuming and expensive exercise.  Today, anyone with Internet access can do it.  In other words, 20 years ago, a news article was as powerful as the people who happened to read it that day (give or take a few people that found it later in their library).  Today an article is as good as the number of people that read it and then forward it PLUS the number of people who then find it later when doing a search on Google, PLUS the number of people who find it because someone blogged about it, PLUS the number of people that found it because it was tweeted about, PLUS… you get the picture.  I’d therefore argue that even if traditional media circulation is dropping, it’s importance is not.  Just as there is a computing law that says the power of a network is proportional to the number of computers attached to that network, I’d argue that the power of the media is connected to the number of people linked to the media.  Traditionally that link may have been a subscription.  Today it’s a hyperlink.


If you had $500,000 how would you spend it?

Marketing budgets are tight, very tight in fact. It’s not, therefore, uncommon for CMOs to put aside a portion of their budget and have the agencies pitch their best ideas to get a share of that pot.  When it comes to PR, the idea de jour is to create some program that utilizes social media or digital in some way.  This is actually pretty sensible for many situations BUT the challenge comes when you have to justify that spend versus other, more traditional areas of marketing.  Let’s say you propose creating a vertical social network on Grouply for people that love mountain biking.  It’s a pretty targeted program and you could measure the success based on how many people join the network and how many actively engage with the community.  Great idea if your client is somehow connected to this community.  You  could suggest a blogger relations program to address certain misconceptions about your clients product.  Again, great as in this instance you can measure how the bloggers now talk about your clients products.  However, the challenge here is how does the client know that spending money on a social media program that would be a better use of his or her budget than say placing a piece in a trade publication?  The end metrics are very different and not easy to compare unless you’re very lucky and the client only does one form of marketing at activity at a time.

Right now some clients are leaping in to social media/digital because they inherently know it is a good way to spend money and they have a good enough reputation within their company/they are brave enough to deal with the consequences.  However, for all the ones that are doing this, there are still plenty that aren’t.  By this I don’t mean that they aren’t spending money on social media but rather that they are not spending as much as they could.  Clients still default to the tried and trusted that is easier to justify.  And frankly I don’t really blame them.    Having failed as an industry to convince our clients that they have to use measurement tools for every campaign, I fear we are about to repeat the mistake with digital.  If we do we will lose a lot more than the pots of money CMOs are putting aside right now.  We will have lost the opportunity to make PR truly the new advertising and that would be a real shame.


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