Blog: Terry Oprea

Terrence Oprea is the President and CEO of Mort Crim Communications and a 30-year veteran of broadcast television and radio programming. Along with his numerous awards (including local Emmy's and the National Headliner Awards), he’s presided over New Media content initiatives for online corporate communications in a variety of fields. Terry will be writing about the changes and challenges traditional media faces as technology and the Internet rewrite many of the rules.

Post No. 2

So.....why, why, why are traditional regional media (like in Metro Detroit) freaking out? Let me count the ways. First, I'll list my Unlucky 7 Reasons - then I'll explain them in this and other subsequent blogs.

Here they are:

1. All audiences and users have become experts at "filtering" ad content, where the operating cash comes from.

2. Users are moving to digital quickly - but ad dollars aren't.

3. Digital users are actively, aggressively looking for authentic content. They become dissatisfied when its not there.

4. Traditional advertising creative messages don't pass the authenticity smell test because they consist of mostly made up content - not "found" real-world content.

5. Traditional media only "presents" a small menu of homogenized content because its structurally and economically impossible to do otherwise.

6. The cost of production in print and broadcast media far outstrips the cost of production on the web

7. Local broadcast TV stations have been forced by law to invest in digital technology that some argue will be outmoded before it even has time to take root.

OK, lets start with Unlucky Reason #1: All audiences and users have become experts at "filtering" ad content, where the operating cash comes from. That's one reason why advertising is becoming less and less effective. That's why Ad Agencies' business and retail clients have become more and more demanding for results. They've tightened business terms. Forced business outcomes to be tied to revenue for the Ad Agencies. Required more aggressive Agency cancellation clauses.

Quite simply, big firms and small are generally unsettled and unhappy because they're spending more and more money in traditional media while generally getting a lower return on investment in results. My firm, MCCI, is not an ad agency - but we develop lots of content in broadcast, print and internet forms. The most common client complaint is this about their Ad Agencies: Why oh why do we have to spend more and more money to get more frequency of messaging reaching fewer and fewer people?

There are two big reasons for this. The first is that even though some commercials and Ads hit the big-time and become part of our cultural DNA, a dramatically growing number of people want to avoid commercials at all costs. Actually, I believe all media consumers have become, by necessity, extremely sophisticated in their behavior. Basically, if there's no authentic, regularly changing ad content involving a brand, there's a very reduced consumer desire to see/read/hear those ads and commercials.

The old way of thinking was/is this: create a message or two or three, and repeat that same message zillions of times so that a percentage of the passive users seeing the message will retain it (hopefully) after seeing it endless times, and then act on it. That approach still works, but for a constantly declining percentage of the population. Why is it declining? One reason is that a growing number of us hate redundant message cloning. Its gone beyond boredom - with some, like my 20-something kids, it becomes a matter of intellectual principal - almost an insult to allow that kind of redundancy when you clearly have the option not to let it happen. So where do they go? To places where they control the agenda and aren't passively exposed to messages that aren't interesting  - AKA the web.

The second reason, of course, is simple: Media are now irreversably, severely splintered. Up to 400 or so channels on digital cable. Billions of choices on the Internet. Video and Audio online, with reasonable quality and fast streaming. 100 channels on XM Radio - not to mention Cirius. To reach all those people in all those places is getting more and more difficult. In fact, a case could be made that users are looking for anonymous places to find content.

No, I don't mean porn.

I mean places where popups, spammers, invasive ads and data tracking aren't common. As soon as YouTube went mainstream, my firm discovered, for example, that video downloads of our clients' cvideo content on a per video basis were much higher on smaller, relatively undiscovered video portals. Why? Because young people - those who are continually looking for unique, original places to find content, looked for fresher ground when YouTube reached 40,000 new videos posted per week! (So there's something to be said for reaching younger people in contunually "low-stream", not mainstream ways.)

More on my Unlucky 7 Reasons for Mainstream Media Freakout in my next mini-opus...