Five Questions about Media in the Future

I’m not a media expert at all.  So there will be no answers here, just questions about where I might be confused about the future or where I might see an impact to my media thinking.  I come at everything through the lens of the Brand Leader.  My questions are more about the impact on consumer behaviour and how the brand can win through media in the future.  If you’re a media expert, feel free to add solutions.  At this point, I just have questions!

1. Will people watch even more TV in the future? 

I love asking this question because it usually confuses people, because of the expected downward trend of TV viewership over the last 10 years.  At first, this question might sound crazy, but with more tablets and instant internet access everywhere, we should expect a shift to watching more TV, not less.  This year, books are up 13% due to increased readership via tablets.  Will we see that impact to TV?   More access means more use.  If you’re on the subway, an airplane, waiting to pick up your kids or on your lunch hour, wouldn’t it be great just to catch an episode of Modern Family?  Now you can.  And while this is at the early stages with early adopters, we’ll quickly see it going mass over the next few years.  But the TV model will have to change.  Consumers won’t want to be watching 8 minutes of TV ads.  It seems people see their computer as their personal space and they find intrusive advertising even more annoying on their computer than they do their TV.   We need a new model for TV advertising–I haven’t seen it yet.

As a Brand Leader, I recommend that you don’t give up on TV just yet.  Maybe it will be on a tablet or a phone.  Just be a bit more creative.  Maybe you need to make your spots more interesting to take advantage of viral shares.  Make sure your spots are more engaging so people want to watch rather than just tolerate.  Be open to integrating your brand right into the shows, or maybe go back to the past when  brand sponsorship kicked off every 1950s TV show.

2. How can Advertisers Capture the Internet Babies (12-22 years old) as they move into adulthood?

As someone said, this segment never “goes on-line” because they are “always on-line”.   They are never “off-line”.  Last year, my 14-year-old daughter had 3 friends over and when teens visit, you have to expect a bit of excess noise.  All of a sudden, there was silence for 20 minutes.  I thought they must have left but then I see four teenagers all sitting at the kitchen table texting away, not a word being said.  Complete silence.  This generation lives on-line and put their lives on-line.  It remains confusing as to their true view of privacy–do they want more or do they just figure their lives are an open book.

This group has their priorities shaped by the age of instant access. They want everything now–sports scores, rumours, or videos of what they just saw on TV.  They are multi-tasking so much it’s arguable they never give anything complete focus.  When they watch TV, they have the laptop up, their cell phone in hand–navigating Facebook, twitter, texting, instagram and Skype all at once.  No wonder ADD is growing.  They choose Apps over software, expecting an App solution for any problem they have.  They see advertising as completely ubiquitous and are more open to brands than other generations.  But how they consume media is completely different.  E-Commerce is an expectation, as they buy songs, games and movies or a new phone case at a whim.

As a Brand Leader, we need help to figure out how to win with this group when they turn 25?  I know as a parent of this age group, I have no wisdom I can pass on.  Maybe someone in this age group can help us out, because I’m utterly confused.

3. Can Newspapers even Survive? 

So far, newspapers haven’t figured out the profit model between the traditional broadsheet and the on-line versions.  Making it free was likely a mistake, and makes it hard to turn back.  If your newspaper has been free on-line since 1997, I’ll be pissed off if you now expect me to pay for it.  If I’m interested in the topic, I’ll just Google the same headline and find a free version.  As long as newspaper publishers see a direct link between the actual broadsheet and the newspaper they run the risk of extinction.  If you think a newspaper is a collection of amazing journalists, you’re off to a good start.  But if you think it has to be a broadsheet, then you’re completely lost. 

News now is instant, ubiquitous and more casual/social.  The tweeting that went on during the US presidential debate (e.g. Big Bird) is evidence of how social media drives the story.  I don’t need to read a journalists take on it.  I already know.  By the time the broadsheet version of the newspaper is ready, this story is now old news and even has had 12-18 more hours to evolve into a completely new story line. The broadsheet can’t keep up.  I love the business model for the Huffington Post.  What started as on-line political opinion is becoming a source for broader news–entertainment, sports and lifestyle stories.  With more publishers going without a printed version (e.g. Newsweek just announced they’re cancelling their printed version), this has to be the future.    

As a Brand Leader, I’d recommend moving your Newspaper spend on-line or even choose other mainstream media options.  You’ve put up with the bad production quality for 100 years–is there really anyone under 50 still reading.

4. Can Advertisers Figure Out how to Win in the New World?  

The Commodity Brands that have funded mainstream media remain completely confused. 

Traditional media has always been funded by advertisers whether that means TV ads for 8-12 minutes per hour, newspapers and magazines with 25-40% of the space for ads and radio with ads every second song.   Traditional Media has been free as long as you were willing to put up with advertising interrupting your usage of the media.  That ability to interrupt consumers allowed the Commodity Brands (dish soap, diapers, toothpaste, razor blades and batteries) to break through to consumers, as they sat captive and watching their favourite TV show.

But New Media is free, unbridled and fairly commercial free.  In general, a lot of the advertising still just sits there along the sidelines where we don’t click.  While the high interest and high involvement brands have started to figure out how to use the New Media, the Commodities remain in a state of confusion.  If you want to see what confusion looks like, go see Head and Shoulder’s twitter page with 320 followers or Bounce’s Facebook page “where they talk about fresh laundry” (their words, not mine)

These Commodity brands need to either get people more involved, which Dove is the best in class brand, or they need dial-up the potential importance for a core target which Tide has done a good job.  As we see many of the new media companies (Facebook) struggling to figure out how to make more money from Advertisers, there needs to be a step up in creativity to find new solutions.  Banner ads that just sit along the side aren’t going to do much for the advertiser or the media owner.  If social media sites want to win over these commodity brands, they need find that right balance of interrupting consumers without annoying their membership.

5.  Are there too many Social Media Options?

I know there are still new social media options every month, but most of these feel fairly niche.  In the mainstream social media sites, we are seeing that winners have emerged and they are turning into leaders as Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Linked In and Wikipedia all now dominant in their given area.  It looks impossible for a new entrant to really challenge them.  If a new entrant were to try for leap-frog strategy, these leaders would just duplicate the innovation and kill the challenger.  Every industry has gone through a similar pattern:  early innovation, divergence of brand options, then a few power brands emerge, and then a power play where the strong squeeze out the weak through mergers and acquisitions until there are a handful of brand owners remaining.

As these Social Media sites look to turn their power into wealth, we will see a shift from fighting for members to fighting for advertiser dollars.  This will likely force a convergence of social media options where the strongest brands try to squeeze out the smaller sites.  There are already small signs in Google’s strategy they are thinking this way–trying to be the one stop shop.  Mergers are always tend to surprise us, almost the unimaginable.  Can you imagine Facebook buying LinkedIn?    Who knows, maybe we’ll even see a merger between social media brands and mainstream networks. AOL already tried it with Time-Warner.  But can you imagine Google buying CNN, Facebook buying MTV or NBC buying the Huffington Post?   If you’re an Advertiser, expect some uncertainty in the next few years and expect a few mergers.

If you have any solutions to these questions or if you have other questions, I’d love to hear your thoughts.  

For a Media Overview that can help Brand Leaders get better media plans by learning more about both traditional and digital options, read the following presentation:


About Graham Robertson: I’m a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke. The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge. My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth.  To read more about Beloved Brands Inc., visit   or visit my Slideshare site at where you can find numerous presentations on How to be a Great Brand Leader.  Feel free to add me on Linked In at  or on follow me on Twitter at @GrayRobertson1


How to Build Your Media Strategy

Start with the Brand Funnel

It’s interesting that most people start with where the media is and not where the consumer is in relative terms to where your brand is.  Every brand should understand their Brand Funnel, at least measuring Awareness, Purchase and Loyalty rates.  While sales, share and profits are the obvious measurements of a brand, they are easy to see but are the end result.   The funnel provides richer signals of the true health of the brand before they even show up in share reports and provides possible indicators of future performance.  It’s the equivalent of blood pressure and cholesterol, which aren’t obvious on the surface but are signals of real health concerns that need to be addressed.

Almost like a finger print, every brand has a unique brand funnel.  Your brand will have certain strength as well as leaks in the funnel.  For instance, most Challenger Brands are either at the Indifferent or Like It stage, and they have a funnel that gets skinny quickly as you move down.  While challenger brands can garner Awareness, they struggle to stay in the consideration and even fall out even more at the purchase stage.  

I encourage brands to analyse the Leaks by looking at how the consumer might move along the brand going from Indifferent (unaware, noticed) to Like It (interested, bought) to Love It (satisfied, repeater) and Beloved Brand for Life (Fan, outspoken).  At each stage, match up what the consumer feels about the brand as well as what the possible reasoning for why they might reject the brand.


Brand Leaders like Sony, started to see cracks at the purchase stage as consumers started seeing just how much better Samsung when they were able to compare brands at the store level.  In fact, people hung onto the Sony brand much longer than they should have.  That’s actually a sign of the power that Beloved Brand status gives you.

The Consumer Buying System

Going forward, you now understand your brand funnel’s strength and your leaks that you need to close.   Then start to Map out your Consumer Buying System and you’ll be able to see how the media plan begin to take shape.  With most brands you can see consumers becoming Aware and then Consider.  The difference is Awareness can be related to how good your programs are, and consideration is related to how relevant or inspiring your brand concept is.  Then consumers go into some type of Search to verify what they’ve now heard, whether that means asking friends, reading reviews or looking on-line.  Usually the Search effort is in direct relationship to either the importance or cost of the item.  Some brands, especially CPG items would have a Trial component.  Brands are now utilizing on-line to variations to simulate trial–whether looking at what a house or car might look like, customized to your needs.  If trial is crucial to your brand, add that into the buying system.  The Buying stage where money is exchanged.  At the last-minute something may change a consumers mind.  They may shift based on last-minute information or influence or they may choose to stay with their usual brand.  Promotion can move consumers at the last-minute as well, especially on brands where there is little differentiation.   After the buying, there can be all types of dynamics, starting with Satisfaction or not meeting expectations.  On experiential items, the purchase to satisfaction is even more complicated, especially when product and service are combined (hotels, restaurants, services).  After the purchase, consumers quickly decide whether to buy again or reject it or even just buy it occasionally.  It’s not easy to become a usual brand where you start to see the consumer become Loyal or even becoming a Fan of the brand.

Every good strategy starts with a focal point, and media strategies are no different.  While there is a temptation to do it all and cover all part of the buying system, in reality you never have the resources to do it all, so you have to put your money where you think you will have the biggest impact.  Even with social media, which is considered “free“, it does still take a lot of effort, so picking the social media that makes most sense for your brand is crucial to the return on effort.  Try to match up to return on effort and return on investment by using some Prioritization Tool.  Map out all the tactics as to how big they are and how easy they are.  You’re trying to find the big and easy ideas–avoiding small and difficult.  If they are big and hard, brainstorm ways to make it easier.  If they are small and easy, brainstorm ways to make them bigger.

Linking the Love Curve to the Consumer Buying System

Brands that are stuck at the Indifferent stage should focus their resources against driving overall awareness to ensure the start of a strong funnel.  But then, they need to convert  that Awareness into Consideration utilizing announcement style advertising to highlight differences that can separate the brand from competitors.  This is where the combination of mass media and digital media can help hold the hand of consumers as they move along the buying system.  The brand can also begin utilizing search to their advantage with experts to re-enforce any brand differences or influential consumers with strong opinions

Brands at the Like It stage can find themselves stuck.  They are successful enough to be a strong brand, but sometimes too complacent to do anything different.  Instead of keep pounding the mass media out, these brands should use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to capture those consumers aggressively seeking out information as they move through the buying system.  More and more, with google or social media, it’s easy to seek out expertise or just opinions. Trip Advisor and Yelp are great forums where consumers look to what others have said, and use that information to help consumers to make decisions.  Also consider media that can get as close to the point of sale as possible whether that’s in-store or on-line.

When moving from Like It to Love It, the brand usually moves from a product focus to a higher order and one that talks to the experiences.  How media can help is to get consumers to wear the brand as a badge or honour or sharing their experiences.  Social Media such as Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest can help consumers tell of their experience or even showcase the consumers love for the brand.  Setting up a Listening Forum helps give consumers a voice in how their brand shows up.  Brands that set up a conversation with their consumers such as Whole Foods who engages on Twitter or TD Bank who set up an ongoing dialogue with consumers.

Moving to the Beloved Brand stage requires a bit of magic.  Find a mechanism to surprise and delight your consumers that already love you, create an exclusivity club so consumers can feel they are part of the brand at the highest levels.  The effort in both of these areas can help your most loyal consumers to influence others into using the brand.  At the Beloved stage, you need to continually improve to avoid going back down the love curve, and that means managing every part of the consumer buying system.  Close leaks before the consumer even knows they are leaks.

A generation ago, brands had a firm control over the message and the media, helping to manage their buying system by themselves.  However, with social media, managing the brand becomes even more complicated because consumers are a medium themselves.  While word of mouth has always been there, it’s normally been Mother to Daughter, Father to Son or friend to friend.   Now we rely on complete strangers to make our decisions.    It’s a big like playing zone defence instead of man-to-man defence–it can feel a bit looser for Brand Leaders to manage.  But in reality, it makes it even more important to know and articulate your positioning, messaging and media choices that make sense.  If you engage to listen to your consumers, you have to act on their input and advice.  Otherwise, they’ll stop being engaged.

Before seeing a media plan, I’d encourage to understand where your sits on the Brand Love Curve, dig into your Brand Funnel using it to see strengths and to map out the leaks.  Take that knowledge into the Consumer Buying System so that you are choosing the media options that will help drive stronger growth for your brand.  The media choices are all about focus and return on resources–both dollars and effort.  Find the focal point that enables your brand to find more growth.

Use your Media Strategy to force choices to ensure Return and Growth for your brand.

To see a training presentation on getting better  Media Plans

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  We believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  grOur President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1


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