Advertisers turn to new ad media

As television’s stranglehold on audience share is visibly slipping, big advertisers are now taking new media opportunities seriously. John Shannon explains. John Shannon is president of Grey International

Major pan-European advertisers, which historically have relied primarily on television to reach mass audiences, are increasingly investigating the additional opportunities afforded by alternative and ambient media.

That was one of the major findings of a new study by MediaCom Europe, which highlights a number of factors that combine to awaken mainstream advertiser interest in areas that have previously held limited appeal.

This openness to new ideas, according to the report, is being driven by increased competition among advertisers operating in a media market characterised by audience fragmentation. At the same time, rapid developments in new media technology are leading many advertisers to adopt a more experimental attitude to additional and untested media opportunities. As they accept that effective communications in the future will rely on impact and targeting more than mass audiences, they are seeking all kinds of unusual and imaginative media solutions.

This change in attitude is manifesting itself in a greater use of advertising wherever the public gathers – in retail outlets such as pubs, clubs and restaurants or in more open spaces such as city squares, and bus and train stations. In addition, Europe’s advertisers are increasingly willing to integrate product placement and sponsorship op-portunities as a key ingredient of international campaigns.

Commenting on the study, MediaCom’s director of international media David MacMurtrie argues that while some alternative media activities may seem peripheral to the major multi-country advertisers, there is a growing awareness that the share of mind they can achieve is often disproportionately high when set against their cost and coverage.

“It is difficult even for major advertisers to stand out from their competitors, and we are finding that more and more of them are looking for new and imaginative ways to add that extra dimension to the media mix,” he says.

“One of the advantages of embracing alternative media is it often leads to additional and unexpected publicity. When Sega’s logo was laser-projected onto the House of Commons the PR that was generated was out of all proportion to the cost of the project.”

This new enthusiasm of major advertisers to explore advertising channels is adding an exciting dimension to media planning across Europe. It calls for greater creativity, imagination and flexibility when developing media plans, as well as a true understanding of consumer trends and behaviour that goes beyond the ratings data on which traditional schedules depend.

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