They All Add Up to ConvergenceOr Do They

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While you are probably already familiar with terms like PIP (picture in a picture), DVD, and PDA (personal digital assistant), you may not know about DSL (digital subscriber lines), VOD

(video on demand), and PVRs (personal video recorders). You may have heard of these technologies, but do you really know what they do? Media and entertainment people think they know about all of these things, but whether they do or not is open to debate.

The recent buzz in these industries is about convergence and how it is going to change the media landscape. The advent of digital television, mobile phones, and the Internet has led to the belief that the traditional means of watching television will be a thing of the past, with viewers now "multitasking," that is, using more than one medium at once (e.g., surfing on the Internet while watching television). Such technologies will empower consumers to control their own streams of information, entertainment, and content, where and when they want them. Should this be the case, media planning in the future will have to change demonstratively to keep pace. The new technologies may alter the communications landscape forever.

Consider the changes that may occur as a result of interactive television. Rather than being just a box that provides viewing entertainment, the television is being transformed into an interactive tool that allows the viewer to play games, access movies on demand, surf the Web, and make purchases. Microsoft is betting that in the future most of us will access the Internet through our television sets rather than on our PCs.

A recent study conducted by the Nielsen Interactive Group claimed that 30 percent of Internet users now have Internet access in the same room as their TV sets. Further, the study showed that 67 percent of active Internet users are on the Net at the same time that they are watching television. What this means—according to Nielsen and others—is that the likelihood of watching television commercials will decrease and advertising revenues to this medium will also go down. What it also means is that opportunities will exist to reach consumers through other media like the Internet and cell phones. To a degree, consumers will almost never be out of the reach of a commercial message, and advertisers will have the opportunity to send their messages through a variety of platforms.

Take Nissan, for example. The company's launch of a new 4 x 4 in Britain employed interactive TV to provide specifications, additional information, and requests for brochures and test drives, all at the click of a button. Virgin Mobile, another British company, used iTV to ask potential customers what annoyed them about their existing providers. The responses were used to establish a database and tailor Virgin's services more specifically to customer needs. In the United States, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Real Networks have developed 10-minute, "longer-format advertisements" to provide more information than 30-second commercials. The companies debuted the ads to the 420,000 TiVo subscribers in the summer of 2002, in an attempt to test the concept while getting consumers to choose to actually view ad content. Another company is experimenting with PIP technology to send commercials without interrupting the TV program. These examples demonstrate previously unforeseen uses of interactive media, and they are considered to be only the beginning of numerous new communications methods.

Not everyone is ready to embrace the new technologies just yet, however. Some experts feel the industries know much more about the technologies than they do about how to use them. Other observers feel that consumers are not as excited about these capabilities as the providers think they are. The Nielsen study cited earlier demonstrated that of the 67 percent of viewers who were multitasking by using the Internet while they watched TV, more than 90 percent were pursuing unrelated tasks (e.g., not co-using two media for the same content and/or program). Studies in Britain indicate that most of the early programming developed for iTV was not around four years later and was not what consumers wanted. Other studies have shown that for the majority of consumers, television is an entertainment medium that they want to watch as "couch potatoes," not interact with. David Poltrack, head of research at CBS, notes that "TV is something you do when you don't want to do anything." Jeff Zucker, head of entertainment at NBC, agrees, noting: "The majority of people want to sit back and just passively enjoy TV." Add the cost of building the enormous infrastructure associated with interactive TV, and you will see that the interactive future is a long time away. Are the TV industry experts just fooling themselves? At least one study conducted by the Statistical Research Corporation says they are not. In the study, conducted in the summer of 2001, 72 percent of respondents said they are not interested in interactive TV. Maybe media planning won't be so hard after all?

Sources: Tobi Elkin, "TiVo Inks Pacts for Long-Form TV Ads," Advertising Age, June 17, 2002, p. 1; Paul Knight, "Let's Not Miss a Chance to Make iTV a Big Winner," Marketing, Feb. 21, 2002, p. 20; Ian Darby, "How the Ad Industry Has Learnt to Stop Worrying and Love TiVo," campaign, May 17, 2002, p. 16; "Survey: Entertain Me," The Economist, Apr. 13, 2002, pp. 4-6; "Interactive Television a Dud," Inman News Features, Aug. 31, 2001, p. 1.

The discussion in this chapter's opening vignette describes just one of the many changes taking place in the media environment. Perhaps at no other time in history have so many changes taken place that significantly alter the media decision process. As a result, media planning has become more complex than ever before. As you will see in the following chapters, these changes offer the marketer opportunities not previously available, but they also require in-depth knowledge of all the alternatives. Integrated marketing communications programs are no longer a luxury; they are a necessity. Media planners must now consider new options as well as recognize the changes that are occurring in traditional sources. New and evolving media contribute to the already difficult task of media planning. Planning when, where, and how the advertising message will be delivered is a complex and involved process. The primary objective of the media plan is to develop a framework that will deliver the message to the target audience in the most efficient, cost-effective manner possible—that will communicate what the product, brand, and/or service can do.

This chapter presents the various methods of message delivery available to marketers, examines some key considerations in making media decisions, and discusses the development of media strategies and plans. Later chapters will explore the relative 300 advantages and disadvantages of the various media and examine each in more detail.

Opimefinclurmspmessss-rsoe, An Overview of Media Planning newspapers, radio, and magazines (and the choices available within each of these categories) as well as out-of-the-home media such as outdoor advertising, transit advertising, and electronic billboards. A variety of support media such as direct marketing, interactive media, promotional products advertising, and in-store point-of-purchase options must also be considered. The Internet and interactive media such as those described in the chapter lead-in increase the complexity of this process.

While at first glance the choices among these alternatives might seem relatively straightforward, this is rarely the case. Part of the reason media selection becomes so involved is the nature of the media themselves. TV combines both sight and sound, an advantage not offered by other media. Magazines can convey more information and may keep the message available to the potential buyer for a much longer time. Newspapers also offer their own advantages, as do outdoor, direct media, and each of the others. The Internet offers many of the advantages of other media but is also limited in its capabilities. The characteristics of each alternative must be considered, along with many other factors. This process becomes even more complicated when the manager has to choose between alternatives within the same medium—for example, between Time and Newsweek or between Alias and Friends.

The potential for achieving effective communications through a well-designed media strategy warrants the added attention. The power of an effective media strategy was demonstrated by PC Flowers, at one time the smallest of the 25,000 members in the Florists' Transworld Delivery Association. The company then started to advertise its services on the Internet. Within four months, PC Flowers moved into the top 10; now it consistently ranks as one of the top two FTD members in the world.1 Likewise, an online advertising and e-mail campaign with a budget of only $300,000 was effective enough to get 12,000 new members to sign up for British Air's frequent-flyer program (40 percent more than its goal) in only two weeks.2

The product and/or service being advertised affects the media planning process. As demonstrated in Figure 10-1, firms have found some media more useful than others in conveying their messages to specific target audiences. For example, GM and Procter & Gamble tend to rely more heavily on broadcast media, while others like JCPenney and Federated Department Stores (not shown) place more emphasis on print media. The result is placement of advertising dollars in these preferred media— and significantly different media strategies.

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