Imagine the day when you turn on your TV, access only the type of programs you want - at the time of your choice, and with or without commercials. Or use your TV to dial in magazines, newspapers and other types of media.
That's what Robert Mancini sees in the next 10 years. As executive director of Ford Motor Media, he is convinced TV, not the Internet, will drive the convergence of media.
Why TV? Because everyone has one and knows how to use it. And the big screen is more pleasing to look at than the smaller computer screen.
When consumers can access all media instantly and on demand, Mancini says, advertisers will be able to target prospective customers more precisely.
Mancini's views are important because he directs all national media buying for Ford Motor Co. through Ford Motor Media, the wholly owned subsidiary of the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency. Automotive Marketer Editor Kathy Jackson asked Mancini to describe the strengths and weaknesses of each medium, and how each may fit into Ford's future. Here are edited excerpts of his comments.
The problem with radio vs. the other media is that there has been very little change. Ratings are flat and reasonably small. The average station gets a 1 rating, so you have to buy a lot of stations to reach a large audience.
It's a personal medium if you're in a car, but radio now is competing with a system that offers tapes and CDs, and many people now are listening to those instead of the radio.
It has the most to lose and the most to gain. It has the attention of every age group. Almost every household has a TV, and I believe the TV industry has the money to survive.
TV is the best source to converge all of the media. It has the monetary resources to invest in r&d and in the media future. Therefore, broadcast will become the standard for communication consumption and advertising.
The wild card is the cable companies. They already have pay-per-view and the closest to video-on-demand.
It is the only medium that allows consumers to pick and choose. This is what we will be faced with in the future because our prospects will be very discerning.
The downside of the Internet is that if the advertising is on a nongeneric site - for example, on a sports site - it could be a waste to put an ad there because people may just want to look at sports, not at car ads. I do see the Internet as having potential, but it will evolve differently. People in college will use it for research. It will also be a good research tool at the office and at home. But I don't think people will use the Internet for entertainment. TV will do that, and I believe the Internet will be a part of TV.
Direct mail as we know it today will go away. The Internet will revolutionize the direct-marketing business. The Internet will ask you if you want product information, and then you can say if you want that information on your computer or at home, etc. It will come to you at your request.
One of the biggest areas of opportunity is out of home. The biggest users had been tobacco companies. They're under siege now and backing off on ad commitments. Tobacco had most of the best locations. Now here is an opportunity for long-term sites.
Outdoor is more of a mass medium. The benefit is that it can get a lot of different people in a short period of time. It's a visually impactive medium. The major outdoor companies have become much more creative. The weakness is that you only have about 11 seconds to see that ad.
They offer the most finite research. We can tell who bought a Taurus, and which magazines they read. The sample sizes for research with magazines are much higher. We at Ford buy magazines for their environment so that their environment matches our brand identity. Magazines have strong brands.
The weaknesses are that the medium has so many new entities and an 80 percent failure rate. For that reason, the weaker entities will fall off the cliff. The challenge for marketers is to pick which ones will make it and which ones won't.
They are still a very good reach medium. They allow advertisers to focus on large numbers of people geographically. That's why dealers use it, because it is an immediacy medium.
But daily circulation is eroding. Sunday is holding its own. And it has been the most conservative in addressing change. Unless they do that, there will be serious consequences.