Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Economic Downturn’s effect on Media.

‘As new paths emerge, new opportunities emerge with them.
Long and Winding Road, OMD, Yahoo Research

In 2004, consumers found themselves face-to-face with billboards and magazine ads featuring normal women in just their underwear. The ad’s promoting a skin firming cream for Unilever’s Dove, was the beginning of a campaign which challenged beauty norms and convention (campaign for real beauty). This was followed by the ubiquitous virals entitled ‘evolution’ and ‘onslaught’ which received over 7 million hits combined on Youtube. Despite the disproportionate amount of PR this campaign received Unilever has made a 360 degree turnaround which may revolutionise the beauty’s industry strategies of selling dreams and playing to womens’ hearts. The approach; focusing on the fundamental rational benefits of selling soap bars. This shift from the emotional to the functional may have more to do with the economic downturn than just a creative refresh from creative agency Ogilvy & Mather.

As the global credit crunch entrenches itself ever deeper into the globes consciousness, consumers are much more careful with their money, looking for the best offers and finding shortcuts to ensure they get value.

Consequently, a new path to purchase is emerging, with a particular emphasis on how people are using online to shop. Information gathering and price comparisons are all part of how online influences the awareness and consideration process. For considered purchases, such as auto and white goods online provides consumers a peace of mind, before parting with their money. We are even seeing a a trend towards online impacting retail goods (which normally skews towards shorter paths), where consumers are checking rrp before finally going into the store to close the purchase.

Hard times create opportunity
In Europe the recession, combined with the growth of digital media is encouraging advertisers and agencies to take a new approach, and be more creative in their executions. Christof Schmid, chief executive of Mediaplus, concurs: “Since media owners failed to sell sufficient classical ad space across all media, they have had to become more open to special ads and content integration.’ Although this requires more effort and support from specialists in the field, it is raising the bar by encouraging media innovation and strengthening the reputation of media in the industry.

Whereas investment in brand advertising may suffer during recession (harder to measure ROI, Conversion rates etc) investment in Direct marketing is the least risk averse channel to invest in, more accountable, closer to the money, less risk of reach wastage. There is also an argument here that Econometrics becomes more important than ever for clients, as long as it can provide the comprehensive measurement structure between media investment and business outcomes.

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