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Rethinking The Media Mix

Happy with the results from your TV, radio and print advertising? Ever feel like you aren't getting the bang for the buck you envisioned? Maybe you should consider rethinking your media mix. The concept of an advertising media mix is straightforward: Since no one magazine, newspaper, Web site, or broadcast outlet is likely to zero in on your target customer, choosing a variety of media based upon their ability to reach your desired demographic is more effective. At leading advertising agencies, building the right media mix has become a near science where days untold time is spent honing, polishing and refining media selections to create a mix with sufficient reach and frequency to deliver. Gaining a thorough understanding of their client's product and universe of customers, analyzing ratings data and circulation statements, and weighing certain intangible benefits each media candidate brings to the table, are but a few of the steps necessary to build the right media mix. While the process has proven itself to be highly effective over the years, changes in technology that give consumers greater freedom to control media consumption demand new solutions and a rethinking of what goes into an effective media mix. Armed with remotes and digital video recorders, TV viewers easily circumvent commercials.

Newspaper and magazine readers are now just a click away from the same content on the Web sans the full- or fractional-page ad adjacent to the article they used to pore over on the printed page. In effect, technology is short circuiting the rather simple media equation that implicitly promised advertisers the attention of customers as they consumed the content their medium had to offer. Consider the impact of digital video recorders and remotes on the effectiveness of television advertising. A Feb. 13 article in The New York Times reports that an estimated 7 percent of the 110.2 million TV households in the United States are equipped with digital video recorders (DVRs).

If that weren't enough to give pause to TV advertisers, the article reports that estimates hold "that 50 percent to 70 percent of viewers playing back shows zip through the commercials." How many TV households will have DVRs next year and beyond? The story isn't any better in the print world. "The State of the News Media 2004" from journalism.org puts it bluntly: "Newspaper circulation is in decline." The report states that the percentage of people reading newspapers began a long decline in the 1940s, but was masked by a growing U.S.

population. By 1990, "circulation began to decline in absolute numbers," according to the report. Between 1990 and 2002, newspaper circulation dropped 1 percent per year, it says.

However, there is a bright spot on the horizon, especially for those who are willing to rethink what makes up the media mix. An emerging technology that brings together dynamic display and media control at the point of purchase may be just the ingredient advertisers need to reinvigorate their media mix. In fact, a recent article in Media Daily News quotes Leo Kivijarv, vice president-research at Stamford, CT-based PQ Media, who identifies this slice of the media pie as one of the smallest advertising niches, but among the faster growing. It goes by different names. In the retail environment, it's called In-Store Digital Media (ISDM). At hotels and resorts, it's known as digital reader boards.

In public venues, like a sports arena, it's called digital signage. But regardless of what you call it, advertising to people when they're away from home, -often at the point of sale- is where you may find the most bang for your advertising buck. The Media Daily News article quotes the author of a new study on out-of-home advertising as saying that this approach to advertising is about to transition from a relatively obscure marketing niche to a widely used, mainstream advertising medium. In the article, Stephen Diorio, author of the report, says out-of-home advertising is "at the tipping point. This is a market that is poised to explode.

" Since 2002, the article says, 700 digital out-of-home networks have been launched, accounting for $1.2 billion in advertising this year. What's in your media plan? Maybe it's time you rethink your media mix alternatives. This may be the moment to redirect a portion of your advertising budget away from declining media mainstays and into alternatives on the rise, like out-of-home advertising.

David Little is a digital signage authority with 20 years of experience helping professionals use technology to expand their marketing messages with alternative media. Visit http://www.keywesttechnology.com and find how you can expand your marketing horizons.

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