Is Media ‘Fragmented’ or Is Something Else Going On?
The primary case against using “fragmenting” is that the overriding goals of the media planning process have not changed: effective and consistent branding, messaging, that create audience awareness (and reaction) across media. The search is for synergy, to get the best return for the least cost, a greater ROI for the package than can be produced by a single medium.
The measurable effectiveness of media has traditionally been difficult. If sales went up, the ads must have worked. If sales went down, the ads must have been bad. Companies carry out many simultaneous activities to stimulate sales, such as have sales people with incentives, or add dealers, improve product quality, or act to deal with competitive action. Any claim to a single act causing an improvement is likely bravado and not empirical. No executive is likely to run an experiment to find out what the primary causal activity was from a scientific standpoint, especially when doing the research can be expensive.
A new book, What Sticks, attempts to determine how one part of media, advertising, is best deployed by consumer marketers, by extension helps explain the change in the demand for print and the use of printed products like magazines, inserts, and others. John Wanamaker’s quote that “half of advertising is wasted but I can never find out which half,” is now out of date. The authors have determined that it’s actually 37%, at least of the companies studied. The biggest problem they found was spending too much in a category, usually broadcast TV, beyond the point of economic return. The same budget, they were able to demonstrate, was to reallocate “extra” budget dollars to other media, and achieve better returns. The authors studied marketers whose total budget in advertising was $300 billion; of that, $112 billion was considered wasted. One of the underlying reasons for cross-media, therefore, is that each medium in a media mix has its own diminishing returns. Spending more is not the approach, spending differently is.