Is TV worth the money?

Sherland Forde is president of Toronto-based MediaVest Worldwide....

Sherland Forde is president of Toronto-based MediaVest Worldwide.

Accountability is one of our industry’s most pressing topics today – a buzzword that crops up frequently in the far-reaching pay-for-performance debate. And it is an issue with profound implications for the future of television as an advertising medium.

Accountability and the new marketer

At the heart of the accountability issue are the realities facing the new breed of marketer.

Already competitive by nature, today’s marketers are further driven by a whole host of new pressures: globalism, consolidation, economies of scale and revolutionary leaps in technology and communications. Integration means that the days of one target/one map are gone. Whole new combinations of tools and tactics have raised the performance standards by which everyone is measured.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the new marketer’s attitude toward the brand and its value and utility. Despite the industry’s general renewal of faith in branding, and the rise of the newly developed science of brand valuation, today’s marketer frequently displays a curious ambivalence toward the venerable brand. Too often, short-term promotions pass for brand-building communications. Shareholder sentiment and stock value are sometimes treated as more urgent issues than brand equity.

The new marketer has an ever-expanding array of tools from which to choose. With the stakes rising, and corporate interests dictating that choices be made on the basis of proven, predictable performance, many ask whether television is worth the investment.

Does television pay out?

Countless case studies have pointed toward the effectiveness of television – and ongoing advertiser commitment of billions of dollars serves to further reinforce this faith in the medium. But does television really provide an accountable, guaranteeable pathway?

Even after 50 years (and who knows how many trillions of dollars) we still lack a scientific formula linking television advertising with successful brand development. The best that media professionals have been able to do is to provide statistical dots, which visionary clients have then connected to form their own conclusions. And since that’s all we’re ever likely to be able to do, it’s imperative that we find better dots.

How? Well for starters, there are some questions we should be asking.

Key questions for agencies and media specialists

Do you care enough to send your very best? The value of the medium cannot exceed the quality of the people making decisions about its use. Are you really sending your best people to help clients make tough media decisions? Some suggest that agencies are, in fact, not doing all they can to connect with clients at the most senior levels.

Are you asking hard questions of the medium? As an industry, we’ve put a lot of effort over the years into arm-twisting for better rates. But have we expended the same kind of energy ensuring that the qualitative goals of advertisers were being met? It’s time now to address this issue, with or without the input of TV’s handlers.

Are you developing new and more relevant media models? Television remains the medium of choice for mass marketers looking to build a brand quickly. In the future, however, that choice will be neither automatic nor single-minded, thanks to the emergence of effective new media and the evolution of proven integration models.

Has media been involved in the creative development process? U.S. research indicates that no more than a third of all ad campaigns – in TV or otherwise – have any impact whatever. Even fewer impart any lasting value. This can’t just be a matter of the right message in the wrong medium. In addition to helping resolve strategic issues, media professionals must be called upon for their critical insight into the actual messages themselves.

Are you tough enough with clients on measurement criteria? Advertisers will continue to look for impressive cost-per-response figures, while at the same time fostering brand-building as a core corporate goal. The two are not mutually exclusive. It is, however, vital that all parties agree on the precise nature of the desired response.

Key questions for broadcasters

When did you last seriously question your research methods? In the newspaper industry, there is a growing call for publishers to rethink the applicability of terms like "read" and "read yesterday" as descriptors of audience value. Similarly the television industry must revisit the terms and tools traditionally used to quantify and qualify the viewing audience. Retiring the whole concept of ratings would be a good start. More broadly based people metering would also be welcome. And terms such as GRP, CPM, "viewer," "watcher" and "surfer" should – at the very least – be rescaled.

How accurate are the numbers, really? The television industry has done little to enrich our understanding of audiences and the real cost of reaching them. But advertisers and their media specialists, increasingly suspicious of value received, will not be denied the hard, empirical evidence they need to plan responsibly. Much better, then, for the industry to produce the kind of reliable, insightful data that enables advertisers to plan and buy television – and to defend their decisions.

How much time do you spend growing your knowledge base? Within five years of graduating, most engineers and physicians would be largely obsolete, were it not for ongoing research and development efforts in those fields. TV needs to take a page from their book. Over the past 30 years, the industry has done a terrible job of maintaining leading-edge knowledge bases. That may be one of the reasons why advertising has been pushed so far down the agenda of many corporations. By taking more of a leadership role in gathering and disseminating fresh insights into television advertising, the industry can give itself an enormous boost, on both the credibility and value scales.

Also in this report:

- Shorter formats a double-edged sword: By opting for spots of 15 seconds or less, advertisers can stretch their advertising dollar — but they may also be contributing to the problem of clutter p.TV1

- CCM arouses interest with sperm spot p.TV4

- Painting the smaller canvas: How creatives make their mark in 15 seconds or less p.TV4

- Red Rose resurrects brand with funeral spot: Retires ‘Only in Canada…’ tagline in favour of ‘A cup’ll do you good’ p.TV6

- Ford Focus puts the squeeze on credits: Sponsored previews of top-rated shows in bid to give campaign added impact p.TV8

- Jetta campaign a brand-new love story: Automaker bids farewell to popular Phil and Loulou characters p.TV10

- BTV blurs line between editorial, advertorial: Companies featured on business show pay about $10,000 for repackaged material p.TV13

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.