Are Media Plans Aligned With Consumers? Or ‘Are You Lost in the World, Like Me?’

I wonder if our ad spend, as marketers, is truly reflective of where consumers are increasingly spending their time? Are we in the ad industry in catch-up mode, or are we finally in-sync? Not yet.

Photo Credit: YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VASywEuqFd8
Photo Credit: Moby & The Void Pacific Choir – Are You Lost In The World Like Me? YouTube

Old media habits die hard — well, maybe on Madison Avenue.

I’m a huge fan of integrated media strategy — that’s what it takes to connect with consumers. As I heard one brand marketer say this week about the customer, “Look, she’s complicated.” Meaning the amount of brand interaction points have exploded, the paths to purchase are many, and ensuring a consistent, seamless consumer experience is not easy.

But I wonder if our ad spend, as marketers, is truly reflective of where consumers are increasingly spending their time? Are we in the ad industry in catch-up mode, or are we finally in-sync? Not yet. Take mobile: This recent animation, video and song by Moby “Are You Lost in the World Like Me?” (a 2017 Webby Award winner) about sums it up: We’re increasingly on personal devices and smaller screens — TV time, radio time, print time, even desktop time — is slowly eroding, according to eMarketer’s “US Mobile Time Spent and Activities StatPack 2017.” Most of that mobile time — by a magnitude of 6:1 — is spent on apps, rather than mobile Web. TV time stands at 4.0 hours per day — while total digital time (including mobile) is nearly twice that, exceeding 7 hours.

Most online searches today (59.9 percent) are not via a PC or laptop, but on a smartphone. More than half the U.S. population is regularly accessing social networks on a smartphone, though that growth rate is at least maturing. You name it — gaming, mobile messaging, video watching, music listening — smartphone U.S. majorities are consuming content here.

There are still some hurdles to overcome. While 80 percent research purchases on their phones, less than half buy something. In my mind, it’s just a matter of time before Americans, as a majority, use our phones as wallets … though coffee shops, pizza parlors, commuter transport systems and frozen yogurt establishments are “training” us how to do it. Already, 54 percent of U.S. consumers regular do their banking on a smartphone — so consumer comfort with personal finance on smartphones is growing.

A larger screen does seem to motivate shopping purchases — nine in 10 tablet users perform shopping research, and seven in 10 buy there. And more than half hunt for coupons, which makes me realize a larger screen is more adept at having multiple pages open and visible, so consumers can go back and forth as they consider purchases and then make the buy.

Now, back to ad spend.

TV spend is expected to be $72.6 billion this year, according to The Winterberry Group. While total digital spend will exceed that amount at $85.0 billion (with display at a healthful $38.3 billion, and search at $35.3 billion), it is not proportional to how we as a population use and consume media. Media pricing, creative costs and inventory need reassessment — but only supply-and-demand dictated by media planners (and their brand masters) can really drive change.

In the meantime, I’ll be lost in the world like Moby.