Is the internet becoming more like TV?

by Tony Fannin, president, BE Branded

It’s very interesting how history does repeat itself. When TV was new, just having a “commercial” on TV meant that you were groundbreaking and innovative. It didn’t matter how the quality was, how good the content was, or even if you advertised in the right shows. All that mattered was that you were there. Then, as broadcast industry matured and audiences became educated, quality trumped amateurish production, entertainment value had to coincide with message value, and a deeper understanding of what audiences watched what shows and why became important.

The internet is going through the same process. Before it was good enough just to be there. Now the internet is striving toward developing into a core discipline with best practices and rules of traditional advertising. Here are a few thoughts about how I see new media marketing becoming more like mass media marketing:

1. Visual and Video wins – One thing that TV did was to engage more people quicker than reading a magazine. We are all more attracted to video than the printed page. And, if we look at print, ads that are more visual dominate attract more attention than those that are copy heavy. The internet and social media is becoming the same way. We are visual beings at our core. We love to watch. We love to observe. It’s more of an effort to read. I’m not saying reading is bad. In fact engaging copy is wonderful to read, but it’s got to create a visual in my mind and not just spout off facts and stats. Which would you rather do, watch a 1 minute video or read a page and a half about the same thing? With the advent of Hulu and other such sites, more people are watching “TV” on the internet complete with advertising. And people are still willing to watch. This segment is growing tremendously. Even the web site is becoming more visual dominate. From my experience with our agency, the web sites that make design as important as content keep visitors on the site longer than just a content driven site.

2. Quality counts – Before, YouTube was all about homemade videos. It was captivating. Today, online videos are becoming more sophisticated. I’m not saying that homemade will go away, they will always have their place. But online videos are becoming more of a marketing tool and as a result, they are produced with greater production value. The audience is also becoming more select. Sure, the stupid pet trick will get great viewings, people are gravitating toward quality sites, blogs, and shows that deliver quality. As companies are trying to grasp how to integrate new media, the occasional spike isn’t what online marketing should be about. It’s about building a consistent groundswell of devoted viewers, attracting new visitors seeking what you have and converting them into devoted fans. Quality of content has also risen. People expect experts. They want to read and watch people who know what they are talking about and the best at their businesses. We all pass over amateurish media, no matter the form, and gravitate towards media that is able to pull it all together, quality production with quality content. A killer combination.

3. Advertising still pays the bills – Social sites are still struggling on how to be profitable. They get great masses of registered users and visitors because it’s free. Most of these sites started very altruistic, but now are searching for ways to become sustainable because they still have to pay their staff, buy servers, etc. We all know in the real world, almost all enterprises can’t give away their product or service over a long period of time and still remain in existence. Some of these sites and platforms are turning to “selling” you upgrades to your free blog, twitter page, etc. If they can’t sell enough add-ons, they will either eventually fade away or be bought by an enterprise who has other ways of making money and will be using the site as another  marketing tool in their mix (i.e. Facebook and Rupert Murdoch, YouTube and Google) And even in the YouTube case, Google is still losing money and is trying new ways to generate income to make the purchase payoff. MySpace is laying off hundreds because “free” is becoming unsustainable. Advertising still pays the bills on many social sites and web sites. It’s interesting to hear entrepreneurs talk about creating a new, free social site. One of the first things to come out is “…and we’ll have sponsors and sell advertising to make money so we can keep the site free for users.”

I think it’s a great time to be in marketing. There are so many options. I also see there is so much to learn that it keeps me excited and even more driven in my chosen profession. It’s very cool to experiment, learn, and create a new way of integrating marketing. But as I understand more about the online environment, the more I see familiar concepts and rules still apply.


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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