Friday, May 30, 2008

Old Media (try to) Become New

It's fun to see how traditional or "old" media are scrambling to become relevant in an increasingly digital world. I've been having a debate with one of my classmates about the future relevance of Direct Marketing in the integrated marketing mix. She thinks DM is on the way out. I'm pretty sure that it isn't.

A study by the Direct Marketing Association (2005) predicted that expenditures, sales and ROI for DM would continue to grow, thanks to an increased focus on the Internet and interactive marketing. We've already seen how telemarketing is basically dead as a DM tactic. Now that society is becoming more concerned about the environment, I think that snail mail DM (circulars, pitch letters, catalogues) will eventually disappear too. But I predict that e-mail and the internet DM will become even more popular. Even now I'm signed up to receive e-mails from several retailers, and I love it. These retailers know me and my purchase habits; they send me offers that appeal directly to me. I can can either open them and be directed to a website for more information, or delete the e-mail if I'm busy or not interested. My dinner was not interrupted and no trees were killed in the making of these offers, and I get information that's tailored just for me. I can't think of anything more new media or interactive than that.

Another old medium that's trying to improve its image in a new media world is outdoor advertising. Last night I was driving on a highway I don't usually take, and noticed a huge electronic billboard. Between the time that I noticed the billboard and finally drove past it, ads for three different advertisers flashed past. The first was for a local minister whose name I recognized -- but it went by too quickly for me to determine what it was "selling." The third was for the biggest local hospital chain -- again, I missed what it was selling. Only the second ad got through to me: it was for a bank, and made the point that of the 1,688 ATMs in my area, this bank rebates fees on all 1,688. So, while this billboard may be high-tech, it didn't make a sale with me because its messages went by too quickly. And of course there's nothing interactive about a billboard, no matter what kind it is.

What does anyone else think about the future of these two media?


Andy said...

I think, as you point out, that Direct Marketing is being and will continue to be redefined. I actually think it will become better and more focused which is a good thing for everyone, both sender and receiver. Through many forms of digital research companies are now able to pin-point the smallest set of people who are most likely to be interested in their goods and services. For example, my last company sold enterprise software. Ten years ago, we'd have a direct marketing huge ad budget and cast a net far and wide at huge expense to us as well as annoyance to everyone receiving our telemarketing calls or reading our ads when they weren't interested in our software. These days, we have ways of knowing the subset of a subset of enterprise software purchasers who are interested in data integrity management software for telecom. And knowing that, there's a high response rate to the direct marketing that is done. Much of it is electronic directly from us to them avoiding even mailing and printing costs. The world has changed and is changing in direct marketing and it's a good thing all around (unless you're a print production company, a broadcast company used to "wider cast than necessary" advertising revenues, the postal service, etc.).

Anne said...

Andy --

This is a great real-world example. I agree with you, far from being a dead media DM will just re-define itself -- as you point out it already has to a certain extent. I welcome DM that is targeted just to me. It's that "wide net" DM that gets on peoples' nerves, thus the demise of telemarketers!