Should more of the media budget be moved into digital media away from TV?

How the Mad Men lost the plot - Ian Leslie - FT - November 6, 2015

The arrival of Facebook and Twitter appeared to threaten the advertising industry's very existence. So what happened next?

Leslie looks back over the history of the advertising industry navigating through the early ads which shouted about the products unique attributes, to the ads of the seventies that started to engage mass audiences and make them quote or sing the ads. Early in the 21st century, the digital era saw a move away from TV as it was perceived to be inefficient with an inherent inability to track its response, to online which presented the opportunity to make the ad agencies more accountable.

Online allowed for more direct targeting, giving brands the chance to talk to the people who had bought from them before or who were in the market for their product. Additionally, social media offered new ways to talk to consumers, opening a two way dialogue. As the popularity of digital grew, budgets were increasingly moved into the different online channels, away from offline.

Pepsi took a bold move in 2010 by diverting its TV budget into a social media campaign, the 'Pepsi Refresh Project'. The aim? To engage consumers by asking them to propose ideas that would have a positive impact on society, of which Pepsi would fund the ones that had the most votes. The result? millions of Facebook likes and thousands of new Twitter followers, however a 5% loss of market share. 

Leslie concludes that online is never going to drive the emotional engagement that a brand needs with its consumers to drive sales in the long term. He quotes Professor Byron Sharps two laws: 

  1. Brands cant get bigger on the back of loyal customers
  2. A successful brand needs to find a way of reaching people who are NOT in its target market

While online plays a role to drive personalisation and better targeting, it will not drive the emotional engagement that comes with TV advertising.