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  • Writer's pictureJim Gagen

Old School - Upon Further Review


One comment I received from my first blog was, “Old School…and blogging. I like the concept”. On the surface, it’s a tongue-in-cheek reference to the irony of the seemingly divergent concepts of Old School and blogging. Kind of like old-world vs. new-world. However, it actually makes the point of my previous blog that marketing communications today needs the combination of mass media (old-world) and one-on-one communications (new-world).

Critical Thinking

In addition to the need for mass media and one-on-one communications, media planning must utilize critical thinking to distinguish top-line information from actual statistics that are found in digging deeper. This recent article about Bob Pittman, CEO of iHeart, provides a quick example of the importance of looking beyond what may seem on the surface to be the new insight, or in this case the purpose of the article. The article opens with Pittman saying everybody now always asks him about podcasting and Alexa, yet later in the article out comes the fact that traditional AM/FM still represents 90% of audio listening. Lesson, let’s not let the buzz of the 10% allow you to forget the 90%.


Equally important is the fact that media planning must strike a balance between the rush to be leading edge vs. recognizing where the marketplace is. An example of this is the invention TIVO. This original DVR was introduced in 1999 and many in the TV industry were very concerned about the effect it would have on commercial viewing. Researchers and agency media people had to address this and prepare for the pending “end of TV advertising as we knew it”. However, 10 years later, the penetration of DVR’s was only 30.6% of households. Similarly, while much of today's buzz on TV viewing is about "unplugging" from cable, only 13% of households are streaming video on demand only. The point is that while the media buying community needs to be on the cutting edge and technology is changing faster than ever; we need to understand that we are most likely ahead of the consumer market on this and should not “get out over our skis”. Believe it or not, I know several people who still have flip phones. The point is, we need to balance advancing technologies with consumers’ timetables in adopting these technologies, providing the critical mass to be meaningful in the marketplace.

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