Where’s the Real Risk?

As dot-com has metamorphosed into “dot-gone,” marketers and media planners worldwide have been reducing the portion of their budgets invested in “alternative” media in favor of “safe” media arrangements.

In Northern Europe alone, the top 100 brands have moved expenditure away from online media and increased their investments in television advertising by 60 percent. The reasoning expressed by most marketers is that stronger branding is achieved via traditional media, such as television. But perhaps the whole story — the complete and honest reason why we are seeing marketers move their branding initiatives away from online channels to broadcast media — is that using online media is perceived by brand builders as being unfashionable and, generally, risky. Most marketers are no longer prepared to undertake dangerous strategies.

I’m not writing this article to express any opinion about whether it’s right to select media channels based on assumptions about how comparatively safe they are. I’m writing to promote a consideration of all the facts.

For example, did you know that online media costs have, in most countries, decreased by more than 50 percent since this time last year? Did you know that, at the same time, the click-through rate has increased in most countries? Did you realize that there’s no clear sign that people are using the Internet less now than they did last year, and that the contrary may actually be the case? In fact, recent world events have increased global Internet usage substantially faster than anticipated.

The reality is that if you want to do a good deal, you’ll do it online. I’m not saying that old media should be deleted from your media plans — far from it. But I am saying that you’re likely to get a good deal if combining on- and offline media is appropriate for your brand’s marketing plan. And here’s why:

  • Because the number of online advertisers has decreased dramatically, you’re likely to achieve better online visibility than in the past. There is simply less noise out there.
  • The online media picture has been significantly cleaned up since last year. There are fewer portals fighting for the same consumer and advertiser attention, making it easier for you to reach your audience than it would have been last year.
  • The costs of online advertising have decreased greatly. Not only can you now forge a good online deal, you can often make an even better deal that combines on- and offline channels and gives you free online space.
  • Last but not least, users haven’t left the Internet at all. Net usage is still growing. Usage isn’t rising at the same speed as it was, but nowhere in the world has there been a report of a decrease in Internet access and usage. All figures report growth.

So, if your media plan included the Internet last year, there’s absolutely no reason why it shouldn’t do so this year. That is, unless you believe that playing it safe means playing according to some popular perception rather than in response to clear reality.

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