Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Heresy Of The Month

We all need to stop doing TV ads, because a) The young people are not watching TV any more, and b) The airtime is getting too expensive.


via Diary Of A London Account Handler


Anonymous said...

There's something particulary heart warming about seeing the word "bollocks" in a presentation.

Anonymous said...

Don't people also listen to the fuck out of their radios, too?

I bet the visits to the Lascaux cave paintings are shooting up as well.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

it's a tad simplistic IMHO. yes TV isn't going away. just as TV didn't kill radio which didn't kill print etc. but its role as THE focus of consumers lives is over.

over here in US and A, as TV viewership has declined (and it has declined) the quality of TV programming has improved. see sopranos et al. but thanks to TiVo and on demand viewing, itunes etc, people are avoiding the commercials. and why wouldn't they?

TV viewing will definitely survive. TV advertising, not so sure. for the simple reason that it's annoying and now there are alternatives.

Anonymous said...

But aren't there now commercial alternatives that provide free programming if you're willing to sit through some commercials (that itunes-y thing that gives you free tracks if you listen to ads when you download them)?

Basically, no one's going to provide anything substantial for free (how could they afford to?). You'll either have to experience ads or pay to avoid them. Or sort of do both, like when you go to the movies.

This will extend to everything, of course: free tracks with ads, free toilets with ads and free hookers with ads on their lower backs for banks that talk about withdrawals and deposits.

Anonymous said...

yes, nothing of value is free. esp. consumers' attention.

ultimately the more affluent (ie, desirable)) consumers will gladly pay to avoid advertising. it's already happening.

advertising will be for losers only. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Shhhh! tv is not dead! the client will hear!

]-[appy Thought said...

Lies, damn lies and statistics...

Anonymous said...

Thank fuck for DDB.

We have no reason to doubt them. What do they stand to benefit from telling people TV is alive and well.

Anonymous said...

As I work with Les, I can say he is a proper heretic - he's willing to call BS on conventional thought when it's just not true.

He's not advocating less digital spending, or indeed more television spending. He's just pointing out that two of the biggest arguments for cutting television budgets just don't hold up to scrutiny.

@]-[appy Thought: I don't see this clarity of thought coming from the IAB on the effectiveness of banner campaigns, or of pre-roll video advertising. They're only 'damn lies' if you can show how the statistics might be read in another way. Until you can marshal all that marvellous web data into a coherent argument, you're just going to have to accept the truth might not be pretty for you.

Why are so many interactive people scared and angry about broadcast agencies anyway? Interactive agencies have won a place at the top table with clients. This is no time to feel inadequate; just get on with the job and make great interactive stuff (and that might not be advertising.)

@anonymous2: In fact, I think it's time that online advertising has a look at its own future, at least the type practised by interactive agencies. Adblockers are increasingly popular online and the future of display advertising's vanguard - Yahoo! - isn't clear.

@anonymous4: While I'm not speaking officially for my employer, I have to agree with you. Yes, DDB would do this. We have 40 years of planning and have done more to prove the effectiveness of advertising than arguably any other agency. There might not be the same client commitment to advertising - digital or otherwise - if it weren't for the work done here.

I can also speak unofficially for Tribal DDB; we share the same building and a lot of the same clients. But the creative and effectiveness awards we win for interactive are all our own.

Les's work isn't inconsistent with what we know. People love their telly. When we build interactive ideas we know that what's really going on in people's lives. As Scamp has pointed out, it helps to start with the truth. How do you start?

Anonymous said...

See also here ... for a review of the IPA event at which (I think) this presentation was given.


Also there is the counter argument - that digital is killing TV advertising.

Sort of.

Damiano said...

Just consider this practical idea of the near future. Very soon that big flat screen in our living rooms could be connected to the net. (It's coming - Just last week TiVo announced a software update that meaning you could access all your RSS feeds on your 'TV'.)
TV advertising and content already has to compete against offline and online games and soon social networks, virtual worlds, IM, email, blogs, lots of attention seeking apps. Everything you do on your computer now. Content’s and ads, total domination of that big screen is over because of the impending arrival the mass fragmentation of channels merging together BUT then that big screen will still be the main viewer to watch (esp. live) content when we are static (crashed on the sofa) (as opposed to mobile) and also human nature is very slow to change so I guess we have a decade, maybe more, with change being mainly driven by the adoption of new habits by the younger generations.

The billion dollar question is how we’re going to pay for our content beyond interruptive ads with all the ad avoidence tech now. (subscription, pr.placement, sponsorship, some new tech idea?) or how are we going to create and produce entertaining (usually highly expensive) content and convince brands to finance it and it being attention grabbing enough for us all actually want to watch it with everything else to choose from to do?

Anonymous said...

...how are we going to create and produce entertaining (usually highly expensive) content and convince brands to finance it and it being attention grabbing enough for us all actually want to watch it with everything else to choose from to do?...

we aren't. ever see Bladerunner? that's the future.

good points though. you guys got mac tv over there yet? things are converging but not a lot of opportunity for annoying ad interruptions.

Anonymous said...

This is basically the same as a presentation I saw Tess Alps give at a conference about 2 years ago (only with more figures).

Both sound a bit like the desperate defensive sabre-rattling of old generals. But what do I know, I'm no media planner.

Anonymous said...

Grilled woodpecker!

Michelle said...

I had no idea I would get Les into so much trouble ( :

Can I ask Scamp how he found my blog as its fairly new born?

Scamp said...

Technorati tells me which blogs link to mine. Yours did, so I had a look, found that very interesting post, and stole it, basically.

Anonymous said...

Agree with Damiano & Anon 1.43

I don't think the TV ad is dead. Just maybe how we approach it from a media buying perspective. Great ideas that entertain or inform will always be sought out. I’m not a Media Planner by the way.

The issue with TV is justifying the high cost for ad space. How can you still charge premium rates when the amount of people seeing the ad is falling in terms of percentage of the total audience? This doesn't mean less people are watching TV, just that they are more spread out. There are more channels for a start.

If you were a client why spend your precious budget (that keeps getting slashed) on something that not a lot of people (relatively) are going to see? Why spend millions on TV to speak to an audience when you can speak to the same size audience for less on a social network site? (and you can measure the response by clicks)

So are the broadcasters killing the TV spot by charging too much?

Yes, you can address this issue by trying to get more use out of your TV ad. By thinking beyond a 30sec TV spot and to think of it as “content” that can be used in different ways.

For example "The Event TV Ad" such as Fallon's Sony "Balls" and Cadbury's "Gorilla" and AMV's Guiness domino ad. The aim is to create a buzz on the web or get news articles written about the ads in press. This is meant to create interest in the TV ad so people seek it out. This doesn’t cost much more.

But these feel like a short term fix. Especially if media fragmentation continues. They’ll come a point when the cost will outweigh even multiple uses.

The answer seems to be branded programming like BBH’s “Game Killers” for Lynx. People won’t be avoiding it because it’s a programe and you won’t be paying for ad space on TV because it’ll be part of the schedule.

But this isn’t your traditional 30 sec spot. So maybe the traditional 30sec TV spot is dead. But not an ad in some form or another on the TV.

Anonymous said...

There's always press. Posters as well. And cinema. That's like a big TV with a captive audience.

And, thank god, no horses. The bloody hay eating, hoofed, fetlocked idiots.

Anonymous said...

Not impressed by that first graph at all.

It's supposed to be a reaction to the statement that youths watch less TV THAN THEY USED TO. Instead we see evidence they watch only a bit less than adults. Meaningless comparison in terms of the "is TV dying" debate.

In fact the whole thing smacks of desperation, or someone trying to convince themselves they have a future.

And anyway, the argument is not about TV viewing numbers, but ads-on-TV viewing numbers, and the US market proves that will decline.

DDB should spend time working out how they're going to continue to sell great ideas in a landscape that's changing a bit. Not putting their fingers in their ears and shouting "La la la la la".

Damiano said...

Even if people are watching a little more TV, they're not concentrating on it anymore. How many of us are more focused on our laptops while our TVs are on in the background? Is it becoming aural wallpaper which we occasionally peek over at to watch?

Anonymous said...

@Rob: Just because we know people are watching about as much TV as they used to (4.5 hours) doesn't mean we're sitting on our hands.

At Bishops Bridge Road, Tribal DDB just finished building the biggest website that Volkswagen has ever undertaken, from scratch. It took us 18 months and 50 full-time employees, but the results are worth it.

Maybe you should do some research before you shoot your mouth off. And at least have the courtesy to provide a proper link back, or are you afraid of us finding out where you work?

Sorry, Scamp, but I can't let this lie. I don't mean to be vitriolic but I am NOT letting Rob bury us prematurely.

]-[appy Thought said...


My comment had nothing to do with the content of Scamp's post. I just say that whenever I see graphs being used to try and prove anything ;)

(And it's a quote from Benjamin Disraeli)

Anonymous said...

Hello boys and girls. Les Binet here in person.

Before you get too het up, you should realise that you're looking at these slides a bit out of context. They were part of a rather flippant "balloon debate" which artificially pitted TV (me) against digital (my colleague Matt Dyke). In reality, Matt still thinks TV has a place, and I'm a big fan of digital media. [In fact, Matt made much of the fact that I personally don't watch much TV and spend a lot of time on Facebook.]

Having said that, I do have a much more substantial body of evidence that supports the things I assert here. So allow me to comment on some of your points.

1) I'm afraid the guy who said that TV viewing is in decline in the US is just plain wrong. It's actually rising. The reason most people think it's falling is that viewing figures for the biggest networks are falling (as they are here in the UK). But when include all the channels (including the very tiny ones) TOTAL viewing is rising. Very few people realise this, because the figures are hard to come by.

2) Everyone thinks that TiVo and other DVRs will mean that people watch fewer ads. However, research shows that, at least here in the UK, DVRs increase ad exposure. The reason is that they increase TV viewing more than they increase ad skipping.

3) The person who made the comment about the cost of TV spots is thinking on the right track, but unfortunately has his/her facts wrong, assuming he/she is talking about the UK. Contrary to popular belief, UK TV spot prices have been plummeting in recent years, far faster than audiences have been falling for those spots. So the cost of reach has actually fallen. [I think the situation is somewhat different in the US]

You can argue the pros and cons of all this kind of data, but the ultimate proof comes from the effects of TV advertising. When you ask consumers which ad media they pay most attention to, they still say TV. Recall of TV ads is as high as ever (including recall amongst kids, who have an uncanny ability to quote TV ads verbatim in research, given that they "don't watch TV").

And most important of all, the sales effects of TV ads seem to be getting bigger over time, not smaller. [And I think one reason for that may be synergies between online and offline channels. Nowadays, if a TV ad excites your interest, you can go online immediately and do something about it.]

Michelle, please don't apologise.
It's nice to know that people care enough to comment!

Rob, you're right about the first slide. That was sheer intellectual dishonesty on my part - well spotted. But the chart is interesting, given that it goes against the conventional view of how teenagers behave.

Rjhayter, the similarity to Tess Alps speech is no coincidence. She got a lot of her data from me.

God bless and I love you all.


Rob Mortimer (aka Famous Rob) said...

Les - The point about people being able to go directly from a tv ad and find your website is absolutely spot on.

People no longer have to write down or remember your call centre number, they dont have to request a brochure or make the effort to go out to your shop. They can just move rooms and enter your brand name in google.

Radio didnt kill newspapers, tv didn't kill radio, the net won't kill tv.

But that doesn't mean anyone can get away with not being digitally prepared.

Anonymous said...

@les binet,

you are correct. i was wrong. the US network audiences are plummeting but cable is rising. it just "feels" like TV viewing is waning because there's no longer the huge audiences for shows like Seinfeld there was 10 years ago. it's much more scattered now.

but when a new medium comes along and succeeds spectacularly, something else has to lose. And TV is losing out. as are newspapers. it's no longer the cultural focal point it once was. watching Lost ad-free on my ipod isn't helping any marketer.

and, i'm betting, the next generation's media habits will only exacerbate this trend.

one interesting reaction here has been a marked increase in the quality of TV programming. Hollywood clearly won't give up without a fight. if necessary, they'll actually produce good stuff.


Damiano said...

Have you read Russell Davies campaign mag column on 'Peak attention'? (reproduced on his blog - link below).


Shouldn't we consider that there really is too much choice? They might be watching more but concentrating on it? How can you measure that.

Damiano said...

Here's the whole link


Anonymous said...

It's true that people are exposed to more commercial impacts than ever. This is due to an increase in viewing of digital channels which carry more ads. In fact, according to Thinkbox, we see an average of 40 TV ads a day. But I'd question whether this is a good thing. The reason people are watching more digital TV channels is because of the increased penetration of digital TV. The exposure to more ads is a consequence of this. And it's not surprising that ad recall remains high for TV. It is typically deployed at media weights which are far higher than other media (upto 6-8 times higher). In fact the disparity is so large that it is often difficult to properly ascertain the effectiveness of secondary media using tehcniques such as econometric modelling since the activity is simply drowned by the weight of TV. Research (including some recently released by BIG research) suggests that multitasking is a major issue in media consumption (and TV is far from immune) yet scant regard to this is paid in most media planning methodologies. There's no doubt that TV is a very powerful medium but there are many contexts to this.
I'll get off my tall pony now.