Advertising in a time of fragmentation: combining traditional and new methods to reach the masses.

Author:Hayes, Toby G.

IT HAS BEEN DESCRIBED as the lifeblood of the economic engine and one of the great forces behind modern civilization. Mark Twain once said, "Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising." But what is the best way to reach consumers in a constantly changing society driven by commerce and steered by technology?

Many experts say it is becoming increasingly difficult to reach large audiences because advertising has become fragmented with more and more TV networks, satellite radio stations and niche publications. "In 1974, if you wanted to target 90 percent of the population, all you had to do is put out three ads on the three major networks," says Chris Eaves of Salt Lake City advertising firm, Cogbox. "Now, if you wanted to reach that many people, you would have to take out 100 different ads."

Baseline Advertising Fundamentals

Despite advertising trends, including the Web, most marketers still focus their efforts on the tried and true.

"The foundation of any good communication message is television advertising, print and radio," says Kevin Bischoff, vice president of public and corporate affairs for Blue Cross of Utah. "Now there are just more options." Bischoff's push is to target viewers of the local nightly news, an audience he calls "unique," in that it is one of the few times a diverse audience normally steered by the content of national programs and dozens of cable networks comes together to view local content.

Connectivity and Fragmentation

Craig Taylor, director of client services for Salt Lake ad agency Publicis, agrees with Eaves that advertising's biggest obstacle is fragmentation--the increase in the number of ways advertising must reach an audience that is increasingly tech-savvy. "What's really driving fragmentation is greater accessibility," he says. "The world is much more connected today than 25 or 30 years ago, but also much more fragmented."

Because advertising is now so diverse, marketers must rely on the strengths of each form. "Each medium has its purpose, or it wouldn't exist," says Taylor. "(Billboards are) a good way to build awareness very rapidly--that's why you see politicians use them so often--but they are also very limiting. The average billboard is only seen for two seconds."

Taylor says that companies would not be wise to target just one advertising medium. He says all marketing messages deserve proper planning, combined with an understanding of the most effective ways to reach a...

To continue reading