Tuesday, March 09, 2004

The Future of Advertising 

This blog is devoted to PR but when a good articles come along, I break my rule. iMedia Connection has just finished running a three-part interview with Joe Cappo, the now-retired advertising columnist from Advertising Age, who is an expert on the field and its future. Joe was flacking his new book (The Future of Advertising: New Media, New Clients, New Consumers in the Post-Television Age), but the insights he delivers in the interviews are worth reading since most PR agencies are owned by advertising agencies. You can read the interviews here, here and here.

One point he made in the second part of the three-part interview is a point I have been making for 10 years. Here is what Joe said:

...if you believe in the principles of integrated marketing communications, the message does not start with the client. The message starts with the audience. So in a perfect world, you would say, ‘I’m going to advertise on the Man Show.’ You create a commercial for me to run on the’Man Show, which sure as heck is going to be different than the commercial that runs on Oxygen Channel, even though it might be the same product... We went from mass media to class media, and we’re moving very rapidly to individual media. If you take TiVo, for example, you can create a profile of a person just the way they have their TiVo programmed, and that’s what TiVo is doing. TiVo is now talking to advertisers about communicating with people, based on the types of programming they watch because that says a lot about the people, and we’re in that era.

What gets me about most of you or business is that you’re not really taking great advantage of the individual identification nature of the Web, and many of you think of yourselves as mass communicators, and you should be thinking of yourselves as individual communicators.

I didn't say it the way Joe does. I said and still say mass media is only mass to the sender. It is never mass to the receiver. Individuals process messages uniquely. One can send barrels of messages in the form of advertising, publicity, e-mail, promotions, events or direct mail pieces. But all these messages are processed by discrete individuals with personal needs and wants.

Joe is looking at the devolution of a mass media structure that has driven the country since the rise of radio. (Yes, it was that long ago.) But, there is a question whether anyone should have believed the notion of "mass media." In my book of 10 years ago that dealt with media integration, I thought I had destroyed that idea forever. Yet, schools still have mass media courses and emphasize principles of mass media to gullible students who surf the ultimate medium for individuals -- the Internet.

Change is hard.


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