Is This Just a Down Cycle?
The 1960’s Sinatra tune about life’s ups and downs contains the words…
…Life is like the seasons
After winter comes the spring
So I’ll keep this smile awhile
And see what tomorrow brings…
Media, too, is cyclical as we know all too well from the ups and downs of the past several years. National TV price plummeted, print suffered through a horrible period and double-digit price decreases were commonly reported. The repercussions were felt in the direct response media business as well: while the softness in general advertising demand opened the door wide for shortform advertisers to obtain sometimes unheard- of rates in programs and time slots often not even available. Long-form demand suffered, given advertiser reticence to pony up the larger dollar investments in soft economic times. Long-form media sellers, producers and media buyers have seen this stagnation and lack of activity. Now that advertising prices in the general business are on the uptick, will this mean that long-form infomercial client interest and subsequent demand will increase?
The Threat to Long Form
One theory that works its way through the conjecture mill is the opinion that the explosive growth in recent years of social media outlets (Facebook, MySpace, etc.) has taken its toll permanently on the longform format. The argument made is that advertisers can create an interactive, social media environment that is good or more engaging than infomercials while offering a lower out-of-pocket cost. And there is certainly evidence that social media campaigns are thriving. Many media and marketing industry newsletters and publications continually feature breaking ad campaigns that are built upon social media as the base or initial part of the effort.
Well, I’m not sure the infomercial marketplace is going through anything more that one of those cycles Ol’ Blue Eyes was talking about.
Buried in those same publications and newsletters that extol the merits of social media, I recently read an interesting article from the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) that talked about social media—but in a very different way. A recent CTAM study resulted in two very interesting findings: 79 percent of regular social networkers said they would watch a television show based on a recommendation from a friend on a social networking site, and 33 percent of regular social networkers reported they were made aware of a new television show because of something they saw on a social networking site.
What? Television is important to social networkers? These same people whom marketers believe that ad campaigns can be built around engage in social media discussions about something as traditional as good ole TV shows? How enlightening— but it’s clearly commonsense! Before we “cycle out” things like infomercials from the marketing arsenal, let’s remember how media forms integrate with each other. Seldom does one media form stand independent of another, be it radio, print, outdoor, television or—yes—social media. Just think how much more powerful a campaign can be that meshes strong social media with the power of an infomercial and its ability to do many of the same things that social media can do—inform, create “buzz,” provide testimonials, etc. Let’s “see what tomorrow brings” before we sound the death knell for infomercials.
Dan Zifkin is president of Zephyr Media
Group in Evanston, Ill. Contact
Zifkin at (847) 328-1519 or at