ACA hears why ‘the medium should not dictate the message’ » Media in Canada

ACA hears why ‘the medium should not dictate the message’

An exclusive consumer poll on media consumption presented at the Association of Canadian Advertisers' executive forum yesterday explained why brand lovers and haters consume all kinds of media, while a keynote address sparked a debate on the role of the agency among the association's executive members.

Media agencies need to kill the need for specialist firms by becoming ‘whole egg’ operations with one media plan and one buying approach, said John Rose, senior partner and managing director at Boston Consulting Group, in a presentation at yesterday’s Association of Canadian Advertisers (ACA) executive forum. The co-author of a white paper titled The CMO’s Dilemma: Can you reach the masses without mass media? kicked off a discussion that also included Graham Moysey, SVP and GM, digital media, Canwest; Richard Musson, VP Marketing, Labatt Breweries of Canada; and Lauren Richards, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group – and later saw some of the media reps standing up for the value of their work.

Rose minced no words speaking about what he predicts is a dismal future for traditional media like print, radio and TV. ‘It’s a very ugly story,’ he said, when analyzing patterns in ad spend for the past two years. ‘The drop in newspaper spend is not consistent with economic trends,’ he said, comparing figures in the drop to other recessions. He also stated that the money is simply going from one pocket to another. ‘Internet activity is cannibalizing broadcast,’ he asserted.

An earlier presentation from Andrew Grenville, CEO, Angus Reid Strategies, came to a similar analysis for print with consumption of magazine and newspaper categorized on the low end (less than 30 minutes per day) of five types of media consumers: the ‘media maniacs’ (12%), who consume both online and traditional broadcast media; the ‘socialites’ (12%), who spend much of their time on soc-media sites like Facebook and Youtube; ‘Joe watcher’ (34%), who likes mostly TV; the ‘broadcast receivers’ (30%) who prefer traditional media like TV and radio; and the ‘tuned out’ crowd, who don’t like much of anything.

In a study of Canadian, US and UK consumers (1,000 people for each country) conducted by the firm, Grenville explained that the segment of the population who spend so much time online – the ‘media maniacs’ and ‘socialites’ – also consume a lot of TV and online news. The study, which also looked at the groups’ receptiveness to brands, found out that among all groups there are those who will be receptive to ad messages and those who won’t, appeasing fears by some marketers that the social media generation doesn’t like advertising.

‘No matter what medium you go through, you’re equally likely to find a skeptic or a brand lover,’ Grenville said. ‘The difference in medium should drive targeting and tactics, not strategy.’ In other words, the medium should not dictate the message, he said.

But there’s also the question of who should dictate the message. Labatt’s Musson pointed out that he can put a video on Facebook to be watched by more than 160,000 people for zero cost. ‘I’ve got consumers making ads,’ he said, adding facetiously: ‘So, do I need an agency anymore?’

To counter some of the ‘agency bashing in terms of not keeping up and not being of value,’ SMG’s Richards added that a media agency’s strength is in using a holistic and impartial approach to increase connectivity with consumers, which is essential with the decline of mass media. ‘We are taking advantage of there not being boundaries,” Richards said. And much like pricing for a lot of the mediums, it’s important agencies do not devalue themselves by accepting unreasonable remuneration for their work. ‘We personally walked away [from] two or three business opportunities because we didn’t say ‘we’ll take less,” she said.