Inside the Mix

No matter what the experts say, marketers must determine what's best for their brands

No matter what the experts say, marketers must determine what's best for their brands

No matter how much research a marketer does before embarking on any kind of program, there is always an added ingredient - a giant leap of faith.

What must surely make marketing decisions even harder is the amount of scrutiny all marketing practices are under, with barely a week passing before one discipline or another is questioned or discredited by a survey, article, opinion piece, or press release. And it all goes to show that marketing would be a lot easier if it weren't for all the pesky consumers.

Take, for example, last week's reporting about the Hollywood studios' plans to drastically cut the spend they have traditionally plowed into newspaper display advertising. The studios have been advertising in the arts and culture pages for time immemorial, but as Nikke Finke at LA Weekly points out, newspapers - or "newsosaurs," as she puts it - are an increasingly inappropriate vehicle for targeting the young moviegoers Hollywood seeks. Newspaper readership is getting older, while studios are targeting younger audiences.

Print advertising has been a difficult medium to use in recent years, due to a combination of factors, including changes in the publishing landscape and the migration toward online media outlets that many younger readers have made. That's a shame because, done properly, print advertising can be a powerful vehicle - not only because of the intimacy many newspapers and magazines have with their readers, but also because of the many talented media buyers and sellers out there who know how to increase the potency of an ad by putting it in just the right place.

It's not just traditional media that are being challenged. A survey by research company FIND/ SVP comes to the conclusion that product placement and branded entertainment aren't all they're cracked up to be. Of the 1,000 consumers polled, 52% said they'd consider buying a product seen in an ad, compared with only 23% who'd seen one featured in a product placement.

Marketers know that sometimes it's wise to step back and think of oneself as a consumer, not a marketer, and to look at how they themselves respond on a subliminal level to various marketing messages. Why did we buy the thing we bought last time we went shopping?

It's hard to make marketing decisions when you see reasons not to make them every time you open a paper, and it's even harder to make them when it's almost impossible to prove the ROI of a gut feeling. What this shows us, above all else, is just how individual a marketing mix must be for each brand and its unique audience. You can read as much as you like about what marketing discipline is deemed unsuccessful this week, but there comes a time when you just have to have faith in your knowledge of your own audience - and that will always, always require a combination of research and gut.

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