Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
The column by Ilija Brajković, CEO of Kontra agency, which we published last week on our portal, has ruffled some feathers. It’s only fitting to give the other side of the story, coming from Miloš Aleksić, Digital Account Manager at Direct Media, who wrote this extensive response on his blog Odvratajzing.
This has gone too far. A guy writes an article “A Letter from the sofa: Can you sleep at night media buyers?” on Media Marketing, of all places. I looked at his other columns, and they seem fine. But this one…
This is a parade of logical errors, made either in order to provoke or out of ignorance. Sure, everyone has an angle and a motive when they write. I understand that. But this is not OK – this undermining of common sense, of leaning on all available channels of mass communication, for the sake of such transparent and poorly hidden petty interests.
I will go about dissecting this in the manner of forum flame wars of old, with quotations, my replies and all.
Surely there are agencies that know about media buying more than me. Of course, this is their core business. Certainly my experience is limited, because I have never bought an ad on TV, and they certainly have tools and methods that can measure a lot. But the thing that I’m not certain about is that they always work in the interest of clients, or that they buy media space in places where they will get a greater kick-back.
OK, so he’s not pulling any punches. There is indeed an on-going struggle over transparency in the world, I agree. The GAFA four has certainly changed the rules of the game by greatly reducing the manoeuvring space for agencies to charge for their work. There are some ugly examples from that battle, but the punishment is coming for such cases. Yet, accusing colleagues that (“they”) only “beat their own drum” and then firing all guns at traditional channels isn’t something that strikes me as a gentleman’s move.
The gloves are off.
Changes in consumer habits
The story was told a thousand times already:
- Radio was supposed to kill print.
- TV was supposed to squash radio.
- Internet would be the death of TV.
- Amazon will bury us all.
What happens in reality is some commotion, a redistribution of resources, and … when the new rules are established, everyone continues playing together, just richer for one member. But nobody has ever been paid to write a column titled “All’s Quiet on the Western Front. Keep calm and carry on.” But hey, that’s the kind of industry we are. We are magpies by nature. We croak at passers-by, and we really, really love shiny things.
As for consumer habits, things certainly do change. As someone whose everyday job is to manage “digital” for the largest advertisers in the region, I’m acutely aware of that. And so, my responsibility is to see the big picture, and find ways for digital to do its task, if there is one, to the best of its ability. But not at all costs.
The thing is, you either want to see the data and then make a conclusion that helps your client make the best decision for their overall marketing, or you make do with the free AdWords and Facebook Business Manager as your only tools. “If all you have is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail.”
While we’re at the subject of changing consumer habits – i.e. the true place of digital in the communication ecosystem – I would advise anyone who has anything to do with marketing to set aside an hour of their time and spend it with the inimitable professor Mark Ritson. In the video below, you’ll see Ritson peeing on the doomsayers’ snowman in a way that will sober up any marketer with even a grain of common sense left in them.
You still there? I just lost half an hour myself, even though I watched this before – the man is enchanting.
The press is undeniably the biggest loser in the last 10 years. We can say what we will, but when you enter a bar today, people are looking at their smartphones, not newspapers. At a conference once, someone from the Večernji List was saying that they still have their loyal subscribers, to which someone from the audience commented loudly: “And what will happen when they all die soon?”
[…]How many young people do you see today reading the daily newspaper? You don’t! So, in 10 years, it’s pretty much bye-bye for press.
Others will replace them, my friend. Journalism has a huge problem on its hands, but it’s far from dead. I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the subscription models to quality media, now that society has matured enough for them, are experiencing their own Renaissance in the West. I underline the quality media part.
One of the major issues with journalism is that there are too many media, and many of them are crap. Thus, for most of them there is simply no place in the new order of things. What can you do. Quality media – with well-defined audiences and a strategy – will survive. I wrote about the “extinction” of journalism more in-depth here.
Newspaper journalism, in the sense of lumbering legacy wood-chopping companies, doesn’t have a bright future. But the raison d’être for the existence of newspapers – to collect a profiled audience in a “container” that is a safe medium for advertisers, where relevant, high quality advertising messages are expected – will not change. Be it pixels or cellulose, the newspaper as a media channel has no reason to go extinct.
It used to be the only way to consume music, but today we all have Spotify (not yet available in our country, but people always find a way), Deezer, YouTube … and we listen to the music we want, with our headphones. I look at my team at the office of Kontra, and no one, absolutely no one is listening to the radio, they all have headphones on, listening to the music they want, on the channels they want.
What was impossible 10-15 years ago, today is a standard. So, in 10 years or so, it will be more or less bye-bye for radio as well.
In logic, this type of thinking is called an error of induction: the author takes his experience, pretending to validate it through an extremely limited sample of his own immediate environment, and draws a generalized conclusion. This much should be clear to anyone who studied logic in high school. This sort of faulty reasoning plagues the entire article. I, however, have a somewhat wider sample at my disposal.
Literally last week, Ebiquity released an earth shattering piece of research titled “Re-evaluating Media”. In it, they compared the most robust data set of UK campaign outcomes ever, with perceptions of media channels held by marketers and agencies in the UK.
The research was done independently and was sponsored by the British association of radio stations, Radiocentre. For quite some time now they’ve been looking for ways to get back on the radar of advertisers who gobble up articles such as the one I’m replying to. And boy, did they succeed. In the total score of 12 examined attributes, radio came second, just behind TV. Marketers’ perception on the other hand is somewhat different:
The future of radio is guaranteed, as long as regular, working people (meaning not us, magpie-like marketers) have the need to for something playing in the background, without having to strain their brain cells over the selection. Which means forever.
- Will it be through Alexa Skills? Most certainly.
- Through podcasts? It already is.
- Directly into the skull? Maybe.
- Through a plastic box in the living room? Well, it doesn’t have to.
- Is it important how? No.
What’s important for us is that we continue looking for ways to achieve effective reach through radio, because for ordinary people, it will always be the good old radio, no matter where the actual sound comes from.
I will agree that television has a tremendous impact and that it is very important. Especially if you want to do “big” campaigns. But you still have to look at the trends. 15 years ago, how many channels did you have? Now you take a cable TV, and you get 100+ channels, and on top of that some special benefits like HBO GO, Pickbox and the like. And then there’s Netflix. And this new technology has given the consumer so many options that you no longer have to watch HRT (but you will still regularly pay your subscription). Hunting users across all these channels has become much more difficult – almost impossible – since it’s no longer enough to lease space on the 3 largest national media houses, because the user is watching … god knows what. There’s so many choices that even they have no idea what they want to watch.
Here, the author shoots himself right in the foot, not even realizing it. In vain go the attempts at caution and the limp recognition that TV is “very important”. Same with the trend decks, meticulously scraped from all corners of the internet.
People who deal with marketing are essentially dealing with applied psychology. As such, the best of them are familiar with its major achievements, as these can be very useful in their business.
For those who still haven’t gone further from ones and zeros, and at the same time make the ultimate sin of recognizing in themselves the target group of every single client in the world, I present the innovative concept of choice overload. Namely, faced with too much effort to actively make a choice, people get pissed off and
- abandon the choice, or
- Make a default choice based on past experience or current impulse.
I, too, have a friend who watches Netflix. Here’s what he says:
This is how it goes: You crumple into the couch after the hard grind of a workday. You drive your hand into the cushions, retrieve the remote, and automatically bring up the Netflix menu. You scroll through, first Comedies, then Critically-Acclaimed Dramas, then British TV because everyone’s talking about this Black Mirror thing. You select one, read the synopsis, and by then, it’s lost your interest, and you move on. You look at the clock, do some calculations, realize the run-time of whatever you’re about to play is greater than the amount of time remaining before you’re set to go to bed. You turn off the TV, get up from the couch, and curse yourself for wasting the opportunity.
I wrote here about the IPA study of media efficiency by Binet and Field, which shows similar data for the UK as well. Namely, as people get older, an incredible change occurs:
Greenhorn Millennials (or Gen Xers, or their mums and dads) grow up at one point, and they stop fooling around. They find themselves a partner, and – lo and behold – they gradually begin to stay home on Friday nights, watching TV. What’s more, they watch that disgusting, linear TV!
While the delivery mechanisms have changed, however, most of the video content that people in the UK watch still comes from the traditional TV broadcasters – BBC, ITV, Sky, C4, etc. – rather than purely online players like YouTube or Netflix. In fact, people spend about the same amount of their day watching broadcast TV as they spend using the internet, often doing the two simultaneously.
And 82% of that TV is still watched live, on a TV set.
TV is changing very slowly, and is going nowhere in the foreseeable future. Not even in the rotten West, let alone in one of the most TV-centric markets in Europe. Because, in Serbia, the UK numbers are be double. I don’t know what they look like in Croatia by heart, but hey, they certainly aren’t far away. So, long live TV – and it will live on, exactly because of the habits of consumers. I won’t even go into why TV is the ultimate advertising medium at all.
Can you sleep well at night, media buyers?
I, my dear Ilija, can’t sleep soundly.
I can’t, because I dream of a day when these markets of ours, to which I came back from abroad, become at least a bit less of a fertile ground for hustlers and quasi-experts of every kind, who sell their wisdom to the naïve and disinterested, thus driving away everyone who’s worth anything and who wants to pursue excellence in their work.
Maybe I’m a sleep-deprived fool because of it, but I won’t allow anyone to actively make me stupid.
Digital has its place in the great scheme of things, and its importance is growing. But this “digital” is not some channel that competes with traditional media. Digital complements them, transforms them, changes them and gives them new possibilities. It exists next to them, around them and inside them.
“Digital ads! Let’s make some content!” this must not be the first and only solution, the auto-reply to any client’s question. As soon as you do that, you have violated your duty, and the client is not getting the maximum they can get. This applies to small clients too, let alone the corporations, which are serviced by the agencies you so nonchalantly put down.
Lastly, if you’re in a digital agency, which you are, then it’s only fair that you talk about the side of work that you might know – like in your previous columns. Doing it like this… sometimes you’ll hit hard ground.