March of the Wienerheads

There’s rather too much non-commercial content still on the internet. The big business marketers are not happy.

Here’s the complaint by Bryan Wiener, consultant to NBC Universal, H&R Block, and Office Depot, as presented in this week’s edition of Advertising Age:

The growth of consumer time spent online continues to outpace the migration of brands’ advertising dollars to the web. Because advertising dollars are critical to support the production of high-quality content, the impact of the recession on the evolution of internet brand advertising threatens to cause a downward and self-perpetuating spiral that will continue to hurt marketers, media producers and even consumers if not reversed within the next couple of years.

Problem, it seems, is that the active, cognitive elements of internet use, small as they are, are presenting something of a problem for the planners of overclass behavior-control efforts:

If compared through the lens of TV advertising, interactive branding campaigns require far greater customization, are harder to scale and do not appear as cost effective when viewed through the reach/frequency TV prism of cost-per-rating.

Routinely, video segments garner more views online than on TV. For instance, “Saturday Night Live’s” famous sketches of Tina Fey portraying Sarah Palin got 33% of their total viewers on the original live TV broadcasts, while 67% watched online or on a DVR. Yet because of the disparity in advertising allocation, it’s quite likely that NBC made significantly more off the TV broadcast than via online distribution. Effectiveness trumps efficiency in the interactive world and marketers should accept paying substantially higher rates for impressions that garner engaging, interactive and measurable experiences.

CMO leadership required

The necessity of a viable economic model to support professional content online is in marketers’ self-interest to support, just as it was in the 1950s, during the early days of TV. Only the power of the purse will galvanize all the constituents to figure out how to create a sustainable model for interactive media that works for marketers, content producers and consumers. This is not about positioning or partisanship between ad sellers and ad buyers, but rather a joint effort to make sure we have a viable ecosystem to reach an increasingly digital consumer in the 21st century.

How might this crisis of loosened “reach” end up hurting “even consumers?” Wiener, of course, never says.

Can you think of a reason why?