Can Mass Advertising Be Sold On ‘Old Assumptions’?

by Tom Nilsen on 08/31/2009

The answer is No. And the answer should always have been No. Why?

I have a fairly basic assessment based upon 25 years on both sides of the marketing desk (buying mass ads and including same within sales presentations for five major CPG brands). So yes…that makes me as guilty as any mass marketer.

In the 80s and early 90s, mass advertising was sold on a foundation of sand. And nobody seemingly wanted to talk about what I call the ‘Assumption Factor’.  Ad agencies conveniently acted as the buffer between deep pocket advertising buyers and the advertisers themselves. We were sold on a full page 4-color ad in a book with 3MM circulation…led to ‘assume’ we were delivering 3MM ad impressions. If we bought TV spots with x number of GRPs…we ‘assumed’ every viewer of the TV show equated to the number of ad impressions. No one spoke much about the fallibility of these numbers and the assumptions they were built upon. Sure we were channel changers during commercials and flipped past ad pages in search of those rare pages of content. But we were the ‘exception’.

When brand and promotion managers began drilling down more in the 90s, ‘targeted marketing’ emerged. Direct Mail Companies began (and through this day) tell us that targeting by zip code is the answer. Retailers began selling Direct Mailers to their own suppliers targeting ‘Lifestyles’  based on what households buy. But the fact remains…mass advertising and targeted marketing options of the past and today still rely on assumptions.

Fortunately, today we have analytical tools which tell us seemingly everything about everybody. It’s all free. And it’s research is not based on a single assumption. But it’s only linked to a media where everyone in the world now lives or will be arriving soon. Of course I’m talking about Social Media. And if done right (very few are)…that target audience you’re looking for will find you.

Are You Being Sold with ‘Assumptions’?…or have you moved to Objective, Free, Fact-Based ‘Knowledge’.

{ 14 comments }

BP September 3, 2009 at 8:17 am

How FAT is Ernie Sims???

Brian C. Citizen August 31, 2009 at 9:11 pm

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