Friday, June 5, 2009

"Social" Gains Ground in Media Mix During - and After Recession

"Pricing, WOM, PR Efforts Get Recession Boost"

Excerpted from MarketingVOX article June 1, 2009

Two-thirds of marketers have shifted emphasis to more short-term strategies - such as pricing deals - in the last six months in response to difficult economic conditions, according to a study from the ANA (Association of National Advertisers) and 'mktg.'

The research found that relatively few respondents reported any marketing initiatives had been shelved or delayed, but many are being reduced.

The activities most likely to be increased in the current economic environment are pricing deals (47%), social networking and word-of-mouth activities (26%) and public relations (23%):

Renewed Activities Post-Recession

The study also found that, despite recession cutbacks and tactical strategies, marketers are planning for renewed activities when the recession ends and the recovery begins. For example, media budgets will be increased (68%) along with social networking/word-of-mouth (41%) and budgets for innovation and testing/learning (40%). Nearly three-fourths (73%) of respondents say they will ideally implement these increased marketing activities three to six months before the recession ends, and an additional 16% will implement as soon as it ends.

Shift in Media-Channel Effectiveness

The study also found that media channel effectiveness for building brand equity has shifted materially. While TV is still ranked highest in importance (64%), online (61%) and guerilla/word of mouth/buzz marketing (57%) have grown to be on par with TV, with social media being ranked as the next highest effective media channel (40%). Social media ranked highest as the media channel that marketers would like to use but have not yet been able to implement.

About the survey: This survey was conducted online in April 2009 among the members of the ANA Brand Marketer Leadership Community panel. A total of 129 client-side marketing executives responded to the survey.

My Take

Consumer acceptance of social media is growing rapidly. It's being spread virally through all demographics - particularly among consumers over 30.

Major advertisers recognize this and are planning to aim more and more advertising dollars into this medium.

Unlike the "message clutter' caused by broadcast and mass media ads, consumers will be in control of what social ad messages they see by the sites they choose to use. This will create an interesting competition among advertisers to create more creative messages which will encourage viral transmission.

Currently, those businesses hold the "high ground" who are already benefiting from real word-of-mouth advertising. If they adopt social media as part of their marketing strategy, they can maintain their competitive positions vs.national brands.

The time for local businesses to act is now to maintain their advantage. They can begin developing new habits which engage neighbors and customers in social media, leveraging their established relationships to grow high-quality, word-of-mouth referrals - and profits.

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