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May 12, 2008

NEWS: Attention-Deficit Advertising

Madison Avenue is betting distracted consumers will respond to pitches that deliver helpful services


It's the catch-22 of today's advertising world. Marketers, only too aware that consumers are ignoring traditional ads, have adopted the "more is more" approach and have begun advertising everywhere—in taxis, fitness clubs, hospital waiting rooms. But the clutter is numbing consumers to all the messages. When they're not fast-forwarding through TV commercials or clicking away from ads online, people are getting pretty good at tuning them out.

That fact is challenging admakers worldwide, forcing them to look for new ways to capture consumers' attention. One trick you will start seeing a lot more of: messages that, in and of themselves, provide a service. Nick Law, chief creative officer of the agency R/GA, has been doing this kind of thing for years, most notably with Nike+, a site that helps runners track their performance. "You have to ask, why would anyone care about this [ad]?" says Law. "In the traditional advertising world, that was never a question asked with much rigor."

Taking a cue from the socialnetworking and texting crazes, marketers are rolling out services that help people connect with one another. A pioneer in this area is the Chicago-based mobile ad firm Vibes Media. At a series of outdoor concerts during the Final Four weekend of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, Vibes displayed viewers' text messages on screens above and next to the stage. Messages rooting for teams, shouting out to friends, and sending birthday wishes appeared below prominent AT&T (T) or Coca-Cola (KO) logos. Some 5,000 people sent in 11,000 messages, according to Vibes. The firm also has been offering bar patrons in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Atlanta the chance to send text messages to the television screens at their local watering holes. Alex Campbell, Vibes' CEO, says pick-up lines typically abound, from "The blonde at the bar is smoking hot!" to "Turn around, I'm right behind you." As patrons stare at the screen waiting for their messages to pop up, they can't miss the Bud Light ads placed between them...

P&G Cutting Ad Budget 10%, Shifting Dollars To Web

from Silicon Alley Insider by 

You can expect the buy side of the advertising business--the ad firms and their clients--to predict sales will be down in TV's upfront sales market. That's their job -- just as every broadcaster talks up the high demand for 30 second spots before the selling season, which kicks off today.

More worrisome is when, on the eve of the upfront, big advertisers start saying they're cutting theiroverall ad budgets.

That's what sources close to the world's largest advertiser--Proctor & Gamble (PG)--are telling the WSJ. P&G, which spent $3.5 billion on advertising in the U.S. last year, is cutting its overall ad budget 10%. That's not a good sign for the broadcast TV networks as they show off their fall TV schedules this week and prep to sell as much as 80% of their ad inventory for next year. What's more, big P&G brands like Crest and Tide have been moving dollars "aggressively" to the Web.

The industry's most influencial analyst, Jessica Reif Cohen, has already predicted broadcast TV's upfront dollars will be down anywhere from 2% to 14%. The big question for the Internet economy: Will the ad dollars that don't go to TV move to the Web on a 1-1 basis?

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