When You Have Only One Chance to Persuade

There’s been a steady drumbeat for months about media dollars moving from “traditional” media to online. According to a recent report by Outsell, a California company that tracks the information industry, online advertising spending will exceed print advertising for the first time this year.

Here are some predicted numbers from Outsell:

  • $120B  Online/Digital
  • $112B   Print/Magazine
  • $  60B   TV
  • $  24B   Direct Mail

But the stampede to digital only goes so far. Media Blogger Tom Taylor reports that as the General Election approaches, political types are sticking with television:

Six weeks to go, says Borrell Associates, and digital media might get about 1% of the total political ad spend in this election cycle. Just 1%, versus the 65-70% that is funneled into TV. Borrell’s figuring a total commitment to digital this year of about $45 million, which is double 2008, but still a minuscule part of most candidates’ budget. Why so little going that way, after the Obama success with online in 2008 and the Tea Party social networking of the last year? Borrell theorizes that political consultants are sticking with proven techniques, and they know TV works. There’s relatively little research about doing political advertising online.

There are a number of ways to interpret this, including:

1. Some political operatives may just be scared of the unknown. They will continue to do what they’ve always done until someone forces them to do otherwise.

2. In some cases, campaigns have tried to use the “free” side of digital — videos on YouTube, tweets on Twitter, and Facebook “fan pages” — in the hopes that something will go viral. As Alabama Agriculture Commission candidate Dale Peterson found earlier this year, viral doesn’t always translate into votes. He got 1.5 million views on YouTube, but finished third in the Republican primary.

3. The fact that online spending doubled could mean it’s just a matter of time before digital dominates political advertising, too.

But the thing to keep in mind is that political advertisers are in the pure persuasion business. They need to force their way into the consiousness of people who may not be thinking about them, and convince them to take a particular action on a particular day. They only have one chance to get it right — Tuesday, November 2 — and if they fail, they will be unemployed on Wednesday.

With one chance to persuade, these people are still choosing intrusive old media — television wins this election in a landslide, 65 to 1.


Got a question? Wanna argue? Email Phil Bernstein here.

Sign up for Phil Bernstein’s free advertising and marketing e-newsletter here.

Become a Phil Bernstein Portland’s Advertising Expert Facebook Fan here


Sign up for my blog updates and never miss a post. I'll send you the first two chapters of my new book, Breakthrough Prospecting, as a thank-you.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Your Chance to Be Heard -- Comment Here!