In a previous life at Channel 4, in an attempt to attract
advertisers, we set about persuading the market that TV was more than
just a branding medium and could deliver cost-effective response. Our
aim was to persuade sectors such as financial services, telecoms and
mail order to move money from print to TV.
'You'll get branding for free, today we want to talk to you about direct
response TV,' we used to say. It took us three years, considerable
investment in time and research and a partnership with BT but,
eventually, it proved successful.
In just two years, more than pounds 40 million of incremental revenue
The point of this story is that the online medium has the exact opposite
to prove to TV. The language of one-to-one marketing has been used for
the past four years and, naturally, has appealed to direct
The problem is that brand marketers have remained largely
As one marketing director said recently: 'I'm not interested in selling
direct, but if someone could prove to me that online advertising can
help me build brand equity, then I would get interested. Emotionally,
I'm there, but I keep getting lost in the mumbo jumbo!'
He's right. This is exactly what the medium can be accused of and it's
time to adopt a language our friend can relate to. First, media owners
must start selling the medium. Ask any salesperson at Capital FM why
Coke should move money from TV to radio and they'll give you ten
reasons. They'll give a further ten reasons why Capital is a better
option than Heart, as well as ten case studies to support their
argument. Ask the same of an online media owner and they'll talk about
cookies, content, unique user sessions and download speeds.
The digital world could learn a lot from radio. It's no surprise that
radio's share of the advertising cake took off when the Radio
Advertising Bureau was set up to generically market the medium.
There was no focus on short-term revenue - it was a group of people who
talked benefits, research and innovation. Second, we need standardised
industry research and robust planning tools.
Finally, with the growth of rich media, new ad sizes, viral marketing
and interactive TV ads, we can at last start to excite the creatives and
talk about a depth of communication beyond 'click here'. Let's not lose
the focus on return on investment, but as a sector it's time to move the
game on. Brand exposure shouldn't really come for free.