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A bad pun on a Sigourney Weaver movie, but let's face it, TV is still the 800-pound gorilla in the media mix. However, with the explosive growth of Internet advertising, viral/social community/event approaches, and shopper marketing, the questions concerning TV advertising's ROI have gotten more acute than ever. For example, at a recent Association of National Advertisers conference, a speaker suggested that 10 quality relationships might be worth more that 5 million impressions. At this point, I think the industry needs to engage in some serious math rather than qualitative characterizations to answer questions like that.
Some justify TV advertising as part of an integrated marketing approach, but given the size of the gorilla, it's hard for me to feel that TV's share can be justified if it is just a multiplier on top of the effectiveness of other communications efforts. TV advertising needs to be able to establish its payback on a "main effects" basis, and then synergistic effects become sweeteners.
While other media such as the Internet and shopper media are growing much faster than TV, it is, in fact, the largest media channel and is still growing so advertisers must have some confidence in its ability to deliver. However, much of this belief is probably faith (or perhaps fear) rather than fact-based.
Let's change that. I would like us to get at the facts via a meta analysis of what the industry has learned and hopefully trend over time regarding TV effectiveness as a commercial medium.
Let me get the ball rolling, but please, regard this as the start of the dialogue, not the answer; that will come from you, the marketing and media community with me, the Chief Research Officer of the ARF, simply reporting what we actually collectively already know but have never really harvested before.
To get started, let me present some of what I have learned.
The question I am raising is not if TV is the better alternative to other platforms ... obviously, today, all marketing plans need to have multi-platform engagement and shopper marketing components.
While the prospects for TV might be on the rise given the advent of interactive TV, integrated internet, and behavioral targeting, this call to action is about current knowledge. It is about establishing the baseline of how well TV advertising works in the current environment rather than what might be in the future. I plan to take the lead at having the ARF reach out to organizations that have great expertise and continuous experience at modeling TV advertising effectiveness. I would like to conduct a meta-analysis of what is known about trends in TV advertising effectiveness over time. Let's get the facts!
What are your thoughts? Which of you will volunteer to share information with the ARF so we can advance the knowledge base on this critical subject?
Joel Rubinson is chief research officer of the Advertising Research Foundation.
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