McKinsey & Co. Predicts One Impact of Shift in Attention

When meeting with executives who care about the strategic directions of their companies, it’s often challenging to convince them of the dramatic and accelerating shifts occurring as people — especially the coveted 18-34 year old demographic — shifts their attention away from TV, newspapers, radio, magazines and other mainstream media.

By way of Jeff Jarvis today comes discussion of an Ad Age article entitled, “McKinsey Study Predicts Continuing Decline in TV Selling Power.”

The article opens with, “McKinsey & Co. is telling a host of major marketers that by 2010, traditional TV advertising will be one-third as effective as it was in 1990.”  Though this doesn’t come as much of a surprise to those of us already using digital video recorders (e.g., TiVo) to time-shift television and skip the ads. Or completely ignoring ad words, banner ads and other in-your-face attempts to entice us to click on them.

Here’s what leapt out at me from the article…

  • Thank a combination of older technologies such as cable, PC computers, cellphones, CD players, VCRs, game consoles and the internet, along with more recent ones — PDAs, broadband Internet, digital cable, home wireless networks, MP3 players, DVRs and VOD– for those changes. And teens foretell an even more radical shift in future media consumption, the report points out: They spend less than half as much time watching TV as typical adults do. Teens also spend 600% more time online, surfing the web.
  • According to Forrester Research’s most recent North American Consumer Technology Adoption Study, people ages 18 to 26 spend more time online than watching TV and are adopting new technology faster than any other generation. Because of that, they tend to be more receptive to blog, podcast and mobile-web ads.
  • Last year [online media] was $12.5 billion, by end of 2007 digital advertising will be $18 to $25 billion. … So we’re seeing a lot of growth, but if you want to match up share of attention and share of dollars it couldn’t happen for that reason.” The TV ad industry is a $68 billion one.

There are alot of people much more experienced, knowledgeable and interested in online advertising than I am, but let’s think about the traditional advertising model for a moment and then think about the HUGE challenges facing the advertising community that are, in fact, quite different than just figuring out how to blast ads in to new media/internet distribution channels.

The primary reason for advertising is to drive awareness at the point where demand is seeking supply. Of course, creating demand, driving competitive differentiation and building brand are the other principal reasons advertising exists.

Mass communications provided a relatively easy series of access points to the largest number of consumers. With three major broadcast networks with local affiliates, a relative handful of daily national and local newspapers, and leading radio stations…the possible points of entry were at least manageable.

As one example, how do advertisers reach my 18 year old daughter? She doesn’t watch much TV, listen to the radio or read the newspaper. Her interests are rather eclectic and she invests time in very narrow niches that — to me at least — don’t connect. Same with her friends. They all do, however, listen to their iPod’s, spend time on the ‘net in social sites, and text message one another.

Do you know who are the thought leaders in examining these questions? (Besides Jarvis?). I’ve seen alot of articles like the one referenced above, but there doesn’t seem to be many definitive body of thought about how to target, personalize, measure and deliver advertising that provides all of us with what we want.

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  1. Kenneth C Wilbur on August 14, 2006 at 2:57 am

    Interesting post. I don’t claim to be a thought leader or have this problem solved. However I have a paper forthcoming in the Journal of Advertising that describes how advertisers can use TiVo usage data to make their advertising much more relevant than they have in the past. Would love to hear your thoughts.

  2. Steve Borsch on August 14, 2006 at 8:09 am

    Just read your paper Ken. I’ll comment here and also send you an email with a bit more detail.

    I want ads. Not most ads but rather ones that are focused and targeted on my interests and what I care about. One could argue that a core premise to advertising is creating demand, but I’d rather think of advertising exposing supply to demand in an influencing way.

    The premise in your paper is dealing with the current state of DVR usage. It’s well thought out and pretty balanced. What I thought was missing was discussion around viewers primary motivation (watching the TV program) vs. the technology itself (DVR) and what it’s capable of performing.

    For example, it’s always amazed me that DVR providers have, for the most part, not implemented the internet connection resident on the back of most DVR’s. The opportunity to leverage a back-channel seems very, very strong.

    Learning about my viewing habits and interests would be incredible for advertisers. If I could have a ‘MyAccount’ on a TiVo or DirecTV site — where I could pick programming, be alerted to programming that matches my interests and maybe be able to remotely configure and control my DVR — I’d be all over that like a bad suit.

    The DVR providers could easily create an alias to MyAccount (to shield advertisers from an actual name but rather have access to my profile data in order to target ads) and provide focused and targeted advertising to Steve.

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