Sir Martin , This time you got it wrong .

I sincerely hope Sir Martin Sorrell ( CEO, WPP plc) was misquoted in the interview he gave during his recent visit to India . He said – “We know that consumers spend 20 per cent of their time online. We know that advertising on Internet and search is 7-9 per cent of worldwide advertising budgets. So, there is a disconnect here since, naturally, it should gravitate towards 20 per cent”.This argument just doesn’t stack up .

It has been clarified ( by one of the comments) that he wasn’t misquoted and he was referring to 20% of media-consumption time ( and not total time of the day) . Even then I am not sure that  “If your target group is spending 20% of their media consumption time online , then online/digital should be 20% of your media spend” is an effective thumb-rule .

Reasons :

1. Propensity to consume /accept advertising messaging is different across medias. Let us  illustrate via a simple example . If the balance 80% of time is spent between TV , radio , outdoor in the ratio 50/15/15 , one can argue that the likelihood of radio and outdoor messaging being received “effectively” by the consumer is perhaps higher . Think about it ,How often do you change the radio station while driving when an ad comes , How often do you find yourself reading the outdoor posters in a tube station while waiting for the train. Contrast that with channel surfing on TV and the focused nature of Internet surfing . Thus one might have a higher % on radio and outdoor in media mix because their effective reach is higher .  To be fair, it can be argued that the challenge for the marketeers then is to weave their online message in such a way that it is registered or welcomed (i.e maximise effective reach).

2. Media mix varies according to the communication objective and consumer behavior in the category  . Brand building messaging will require audio-visual content ( TV , digital) while brand awareness / reinforcement can be done with a healthy mix of outdoor and print . Secondly , impulse purchase categories require a different media mix from categories which have a more considered or loyal purchasing behavior.

3. Cost to deliver 1000 impressions (CPM) is different across media .  Thus % spend on a particular media will not be same as % of time spent on that media ( those who want to understand this in detail can write to me seperately) . Further as one moves money away from “old” media to online , the CPM of the old media may go up because the benefits of bulk deals may reduce .

In summary , there are several other factors like consumer behavior, CPM of each media ,communication objective which will determine the media mix and hence % spent on each media. 

 There is no arguing with the fact that digital/online is a big opportunity which needs to be better understood . But so is In-store ( at least for consumer goods) .138mn shoppers visit a  WALMART store during a week in US . This is much more than any single website .

The point is, any shift of media $$ to online should be a considered and case by case decision , and not driven by broad thumb rules. While advertising /communication networks hedge their bets by buying digital agencies, in-store marketing outfits etc as they see clients gravitating towards these touch-points , they should supplement it with  real thought leadership to help clients navigate the complex media landscape as opposed to pushing “fads”

Click here for some good perspective on the online media and online video advertising opportunity .  More on media fads here .


2 responses to “Sir Martin , This time you got it wrong .

  1. Sir Martin Sorrell wan’t misquoted as this is a statistic that he’s used several times over the past 6 months

    The 20% however isn’t hours of the day – but hours spent “consuming media”.

    I might be wrong but I believe that this stat is taken from a google reseach document.

  2. Thanks Graeme. Post your clarification I have reworded the post .

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