Last week’s Customer 360 conference in San Diego provided a good opportunity to sample what’s on the minds of marketers, and one question I heard a few times was, do you anticipate companies (like ours) shifting their ad budgets to big data initiatives in marketing? In fact, there is plenty of evidence of a long-term value shift from media to data, and earned media is emerging as a disrupter of paid media (see, for instance, VivaKi’s launch of Contagion with Visible Measures). Yet, a number of savvy marketers I spoke with also expressed skepticism that marketing was about to raid the media budget in a big way.
A good deal of ink has been devoted to writing advertising’s obituary of late. One such book project (currently in Kickstarter) comes from Joseph Jaffe and Maarten Albarda and is titled “Z.E.R.O. Zero paid media as the new marketing model” (see MediaPost coverage here). Jaffe’s earlier book, Life after the 30-second spot, took aim in 2005 at TV advertising, which has since stubbornly refused to die, although its future can still launch a healthy debate. But setting the goal post at zero for all paid media is a much more radical proposal. Even Jaffe seems to hedge a bit:
“Z.E.R.O. is proof positive that you don’t need to ‘pay’ for customers or media if you have enough to start off with and/or a core of passionate advocates who would go to bat for you.”
For most companies today that’s a pretty big if. Gartner’s recent marketing spending survey shows that, looking only at digital marketing budgets (which average about 25% of overall marketing budgets), digital advertising still claims the biggest share of spending at 12.5% (followed by content creation and management at 11.6%). (Results are based on a survey of 253 marketers from U.S.-based companies with more than $500 million in annual revenue.)
But predictions are about the future, and at Gartner we’ve often wondered about the future of paid media. Last year, I wrote in our Hype Cycle for Advertising about, “the ‘dark cloud on the horizon’ for ad-supported media as marketers beginning to openly question whether alternatives to paid advertising — earned media and advocacy in social networks, direct data-driven targeting, one-to-one conversational tactics, and branded content and applications, to name a few — might soon lead to substantial secular cuts in media spending across the board.”
Yes, there are plenty of reasons to imagine that paid media faces a rocky future, so lest we all assume its demise is a foregone conclusion, I’d like to offer five counterarguments that suggest otherwise.
So, yes, media is in for a bumpy ride as big data pushes its way into the marketing picture, but marketers will need to think twice before they raid the ad coffers. And media companies need to find their role in the data picture, which is a plug for upcoming research.
What do you think?