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Marketing Without Media

November 22, 2004 Monday Morning Memo from Roy Williams.

ReinventingadvertisingmmmemHear no Advertising. See no Advertising. Speak no Advertising.

I think we've had our fill of ads. And by "we," I mean the entire population of the twenty-first century. That's a dangerous and controversial statement coming from a man known as The Wizard of Ads, wouldn't you say?

My staff and I have been quietly studying this dilemma for the past 29 months because our clients depend on us to help them attract new business. That's how we make our living. You'll recall that I first mentioned this problem 6 months ago in a May 24 memo entitled The Future of Advertising and in a sequel the following week, Media's Missing Mass.

But now the cat is out of the bag. Look at the front page of the Money section of USA Today – Thursday, November 18, – and you'll find a story about how America's television networks are lobbying congress to pass a law that would require us to keep watching their ads. Seriously. I'm not making this up:

"The popularity of personal video recorders such as TiVos is a big concern for advertisers. They worry ads will become irrelevant as viewers fast-forward to ignore them… 20% of households are expected to own PVRs by 2008, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers… [Forrester Research is predicting 41% by 2010.] The Senate is expected to vote on the Intellectual Property Protection bill [which] has a provision to prohibit technology that skips commercials during a DVD or televised movie; opponents say the provision would make it a crime to fast-forward through a commercial. In criticizing the bill last month, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said: ‘Do we really expect to throw people in jail in 2004 for behavior they've been engaged in for more than a quarter century?'" - USA Today, Nov. 18, 2004.  Forrester Research data taken from the Los Angeles Times

Bottom Line: We've been hammered by so many messages for so many years that we're now developing technologies to shield us from them.

Here's what I believe will happen next:

1. A gentle but noticeable decline in the effectiveness of mass media over the next 3 to 5 years. (So don't panic if you're an advertiser. You've got plenty of time to begin learning how to market with less mass media.)

2. Increasingly frantic but misdirected efforts by TV moguls, including threatening and pleading, "If advertisers quit buying our ads, we won't have the money to create new TV shows for you." (Even though it's the truth, do they really think this will cause us to reconsider whether or not we want to sit through long and irrelevant commercial breaks?)

3. Bickering-as-usual among US radio stations as they continue to ignore the growing influence of satellite radio, iPods, and personalized internet radio delivered through cell phone technology to the car.

4. Denial by major radio groups that there is a problem of any kind.

5. Fewer people reading local newspapers than ever before in history.

6. A major crisis within traditional mass media around 2010.

I share these observations with you because you would have soon begun noticing them for yourself and I want you to know that we're aware of what's happening. Even now, Wizard Academy is testing and refining new strategies that will allow business owners to continue growing in a day when the eyes and ears of the public are no longer for sale.

Come and spend some time with us when you can.

Roy H. Williams

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