.... my 2 cents ....
musings on marketing, media, public relations....and life,
by David Reich
Reich Communications, Inc.
Reich Communications, Inc. is a boutique public relations agency in New York City offering full service in a variety of areas, with specializations in business-to-business; advertising, marketing and media firms; transportation safety; non-profits, and select consumer products and services.
For more info, call us at (212) 573-6000, email to david@reichcommunications or text to 914-325-9997.
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That's the idea behind a new ad campaign being launched by The New York Times. The "newspaper of record" has been the brunt of attacks by the president and by his followers who believe his fake news accusations, which are designed to distract attention from the fake news being disseminated by the White House.
A full-page ad in Friday's Times introduced the campaign, with the tagline "Truth is more important now than ever."
The Times is also running a 30-second ad during the Oscars telecast, at a cost of $1.2 million.
It's part of a two-pronged effort to fight back against the fake news allegations while boosting circulation. Since the election, people searching for truth have boosted the paper's online subscriptions by more than 270,000.
Other papers are also responding to fake news charges. The Washington Post this week introduced a new slogan, Democracy Dies in Darkness. They are running it immediately beneath the paper's masthead in Page One.
I've seen other papers including the Chicago Tribune use the theme of real news or reliable news in promotional campaigns online to draw new readers.
As we continue to hear rants and charges of fake news from the president and his minions, more people are turning to media they feel they can trust to ferret out the real news from the contradictions and outright lies being fed to us by the administration.
We are seeing more news coverage that corrects wrong information. Many papers and networks are including fact-checks that correct inaccurate statements or put them in context.
This is what we need and what people should use if they hope to have a real and honest picture of what our new administration and our elected officials are doing. We can't and shouldn't rely on questionable reports on websites posing as news but really run by political groups, whether leaning left or right.
Truth is what we need now and what we get from legitimate and credible news organizations like those in the president's cross-hairs.
TV advertisers have long sought what they consider the key demographics -- adults ages 18 - 49. To meet that demand, the networks have long aimed their programming at that most-desired age group in order to lure the dollars from big mass-market advertisers.
John Crupi has an interesting backgrounder on those golden demos in the new issue of Advertising Age.
He reminds us that the focus on the 18-49 group goes back more than 50 years when ABC was a young and struggling network, getting clobbered in the ratings by the larger and more established NBC and CBS, which had many more affiliates and, therefore, more eyeballs.
To combat the difference in viewership, ABC put on programming that appealed to a younger audience and then, in a brilliant move, began touting the 18-49 demographics as the ones with money to spend on products being advertised.
In reality, the younger end of that age group likely did not have lots of money to spend. Just out of school, they were either in college or getting started on the careers, with lower-paying jobs at the bottom of the ladder.
As people passed the 50-year-old mark, they suddenly became less desirable to advertisers, if you bought what the networks told advertisers.
But wait… think about it. As we get into our 50s, we tend to have fewer big expenses like college tuition and other child-related costs. If we bought a house, our mortgage may be almost paid off. And as we are older, we are often more advanced in our careers and getting a bigger paycheck.
And as we move past that magic 50+ mark, many of us have more disposable income that we can use on travel, recreation and hobbies. With kids out of the house, we might downsize, which often means buying new furnishings. We also may go out to eat more often, since we’re paying only for two rather than three or four or more.
So you can see, the whole idea of 18 – 49 being the key money-spending demographic seems to be off-base. But the networks’ sales machines, supported by Nielsen ratings, have done a masterful job of selling 18 – 49.
Smart marketers and smart agencies have seen through the sizzle and have been more targeted in their ad spending.
A presidential election generally means ad time is harder to come by, both on the national and local level. Local media outlets -- TV, radio and newspapers -- had been banking on an ad windfall this year as the campaign heated up. But it just hasn't materialized, according to a story today in Adweek.
The big media story earlier in the campaign cycle was all the free media that the candidates, especially Donald Trump, were able to garner. Ad forecasters predicted the political media buys would ratchet up once Trump became the Republican nominee and had access to GOP campaign funds. (And don't forget, he's the guy who said he'd fund his campaign out of his own pocket.)
The Democrats are spending for ads, nationally and in key states. But the Trump campaign has been miserly in its ad spending, both nationally and locally. It's causing some distress in local markets that had been counting on political ads, especially for media that held back some time availabilities in their inventory, expecting the last-minute demand for political spots. It hasn't happened.
About $2.8 billion has been spent in local media for political ads -- not just for the presidential candidates, but for local races as well. But that figure is about 15 percent below what the forecasts had been. The Republican presidential campaign this year is actually spending a bit less than the McCain and Romney campaigns spent four and eight years ago.
Adweek cites experts who say spending by presidential candidates generally accounts for about 30 percent of total political ad buys, with the bulk going to support Congressional, gubernatorial and local races.
To keep it in perspective, the $2.8 billion represents less than 10 percent of total local ad spending, which is pegged at about $30 billion. But local media must be giving prayers of thanksgiving for their neighborhood car dealers, reliably buying time and space to push new cars off the lot.
A few days ago, some reports surfaced in the ad and TV trades that Trump was considering starting hos own branded TV cable channel. Little was said about content, but it probably would be a combination of luxury-themed programs and ultra-conservative propaganda.
Adweek posted a survey Monday asking ad execs and media buyers two questions.. Would you watch a Trump Channel, and would you buy or advise your client to buy spots on the channel?
The results so far are encouraging... with 320 people voting, 88 percent said NO to both watching and buying time.
TV has long been king of media, for decades taking the lion's share of marketers' ad dollars. But it looks like TV will be surpassed by the young upstart -- digital.
Recent news reports tell us it's finally happened -- something prognosticators have been talking about for years. eMarketer says the ad spend on digital media will hit just a bit over $72 billion by the end of this year, squeezing past the $71.3 billion that advertisers are spending on TV in 2016.
But the so-called "old media" TV, along with newspapers and magazines, aren't quietly going away. Instead, they are ramping up digital platforms of their established brands, the oldies like NBC/Comcast, Disney/ABC, FOX, Hearst, Univision and Scripps, and buying into some of the digital newcomers that have been stealing their ad dollars.
"If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em" seems to be the mantra of the big guys.
In a recent report aptly titled "What's Old is New," Bloomberg gives a number of examples. Comcast, which owns NBC, is investing in two new media outklets --n Cheddar, a business news platform aimed at Millennials, and a yet-unnamed offshoot of Politico. Comcast also has partial ownership of Buzzfeed, Vox and afood oyutlet called Tastemaker.
Hearst, known for magazines like Cosmo, Marie Claire, Seventeen and House Beautiful as well as newspapers including the San Francisco Chronicle, is buying Complex, a group of websites covering fashion, technology, hip hop, technology and entertainment.
Univision, the Spanish-language TV giant, is in talks to purchase Gawker, the site that went into bankruptcy after it lost a big invasion of privacy case against ex-wrestler Hulk Hogan.
Even a media "dinosaur" like Verizon, whose roots go back to Ma Bell, is very much in the new media business. The phone/cable/internet company owns online sites like Huffington Post and TechCrunch and is in the process of buying Yahoo. Plenty of ad revenues there.
So let's not feel sorry for the TV companies since most of them aren't just TV anymore. They're following the money.
Print continues to struggle, and the latest numbers from MagNet, which tracks single-copy sales of magazines, shows the struggle isn't abating.
Single-copy magazine sales fell a bit more than ten percent in the first quarter of this year, as compared to first quarter sales in 2015. In actual numbers, 88.1 million single copies were sold, down from 98 million a year ago.
The categories that had the biggest declines were business and finance magazines, followed by health and fitness, and home and garden, and celebrity and gossip mags. MagNet said the declines are smaller, percentage-wise, than previous quarters... but they are still trending downward.
Readership for many of these magazines is holding steady, thanks to online viewing. For advertisers, online viewing doesn't offset losses in print sales since online readers often click past the ads.
It's a continuing challenge, for both publishers and advertisers.
So-called native advertising is ad content designed to look like the editorial content it's surrounded by. We used to call it "advertorial" long before "native" became the current buzzword.
By its very nature, native advertising is deceptive, since it is intended to make the viewer think it's real news, coming from the media outlet's reporters or writers. As such, it tries to pick up the implied credibility that would come with a legitimately reported news or feature story.
Not so. Native ads are, after all, ads paid for and written by an advertiser. You shouldn't expect native ads to be fair, balanced or even, unfortunately, totally accurate.
For years, advertorials in newspapers and magazines usually were labeled as ads or paid content, although often in small lettering that could easily be missed.
Then, as media went digital, the lines became blurred or disappeared altogether. Online media, including widely-read blogs, went for the money, posting paid content without disclosing it was sponsored.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a ruling that all paid content had to be clearly identified. I'm not sure if anyone has been fined or prosecuted for breaking that rule, but most legitimate media seem to have become more careful.
Despite this and perhaps proving that more noticeable identification as an ad is needed, a new study by a university in Georgia shows the vast majority of us don't recognize native advertising as a paid ad. The study, reported in the Journal of Advertising, found that only eight percent of people surveyed identified native advertising as paid marketing messages. So 92 percent were fooled into thinking what they had seen in print or online was real news or information.
No wonder native advertising has become the hot thing.
Consumers really shouldn't believe advertising, said Suzanne Vranica, longtime advertising and marketing reporter for The Wall Street Journal.
She made the comment during an interview this morning on CBS This Morning, talking about news that artisnal chocolate maker Mast admitted it had used melted-down chocolate from other brands in its early days as a high-end chocolatier.
It's possible Suzanne may have intended to say something like you can't always believe everything in ads, or consumers should be careful and try to do their own research into claims made in ads. Live TV can do that -- catch you in a sentence that doesn't come out exactly right.
But if many people -- including one of the leading national journalists who covers the ad industry -- are skeptical of what they see and hear in ads, then maybe marketers need to look at other methods of getting the word out about their products and services. Word-of-mouth often comes up as the most trusted source of information, and it is often fueled by Public Relations.
The idea behind it is PR seeks to get exposure through media, which have an obligation to do their own vetting of claims made by marketers. So if a story in a trusted newspaper, magazine or broadcast or online outlet talks about a product in a positive way, consumers give it more credibility than a straightforward ad. Advertising, with its repetitive nature, creates awareness. Stories in the media via PR, which are tougher to gain, generally have more credibility.
That, in a longer explanation, may be what Suzanne Vranica was trying to say in a quick interview soundbite.
The age-old question of "who sees my ad" continues to plague advertisers.
Digital advertising now allows advertisers to get a better read on who looks at their ads and how long they spend looking, as well as lots of other information about us that we'd probably rather they not have. Ever wonder why, after you go to a site to look for information on travel to, say, Mexico, you all of a sudden start getting pop-ups and emails advertising destinations in Mexico? It's called behavioral tracking.
But as ads appear everywhere, we consumers look for ways to avoid them. It's almost like a game of cat & mouse.
With radio, simply hit the button to go to another station. Now, we have ad-free satellite radio or subscription services online like Pandora.
Back before DVRs or home video recorders, the only recourse we had to avoid ads on TV was either switch the channel (which pre-remote meant getting up to turn the dial) or leave the room to raid the refrigerator or take a quick bathroom break. Now, we simply click and the ads that marketers spent tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars to put in front of us quickly zip by.
As our TV viewing habits are changing, advertisers are trying other ways to force us to watch their messages. Video on demand (VOD) from the networks usually disable the fast-forward feature on your clicker, so you have to watch TV the old-fashioned way -- ads included.
But the hot area these days for ads is online. We're close to the point where advertisers will be spending more money for online ads than for ads in traditional media. But even as this is happening, we consumers are finding ways to avoid the ads aimed at us on our computers, tablets and smart phones.
Banner ads have been shown to have limited impact on consumers. They're on our screens, but we tend to ignore them. Advertisers now use pop-ups that dominate the screen and override the content you're trying to view. Those pop-ups often have a box or circle with an "x" which you can click to have the ad go away. But advertisers are making those boxes smaller and harder to click on, especially if you're seeing them on a tablet or phone.
As a story in The New York Times recently said, it's becoming like the wack-a-mole game... trying to find the little "x."
This silly game becomes frustrating for consumers, and it hardly endears them to whatever product or service is being advertised.
One possible solution is to take a cue from pre-roll ads that pop up on some You Tube videos. There's a message, easy to see, that indicates that you can close the ad after 5 or 15 seconds ... and you see the time counting down. The viewer knows there will be an option and that he or she will just have to endure 5, 15, or 30 seconds before getting to the desired content. It's not as annoying as other pop-ups, and if the advertiser has created a compelling ad that catches you in those first 5 or 15 seconds, the consumer may opt to watch the entire ad, which could be 30 or 60 seconds, or even a lot longer.
It takes creativity. You can't simply use a regular TV ad and put it online. But if it works, it's win-win for both the advertisers and the consumer. It's a lot better than playing cat and mouse to try to avoid an ad.
I was a bit surprised when I saw an item Monday on CBS This Morning about the supposed controversy brewing over Starbucks' plans to have a simple red cup this Christmas season, replacing cups decorated with snowflakes and reindeer from years past. Some Starbucks fans evidently voiced their displeasure on social media and the media picked up on it. Even the New York Times had a story about it in Monday's editions.
The Times even quoted one wacko from his Facebook page... “Starbucks REMOVED CHRISTMAS from their cups because they hate Jesus,” Joshua Feuerstein, who described himself as an evangelist, Internet and social media personality, wrote."
Sure, Starbucks hates Jesus. Oh Jesus, c'mon!
The Times went on to wonder.. "Perhaps it was part of the company’s intent to generate a little buzz, however negative and extreme some of the instant reviews sounded." Ya' think?
And the media fell for it.
Sure, such a silly story is a nice break from all the heavy news we're dealing with these days. But still... is this really news? I guess because it's on social media, the real media think it's real news.
Or, maybe it's just been a slow news day. Somehow, though, I don't think that's the case.