Monday, March 24, 2008


Television still works

The most successful marketers strip out all the pomp and circumstance too often built up around our trade, and boil what we do down to its essence – inspiring and mobilizing an audience. When you start with a basic premise of product meets consumer, the right solutions (message, channel, delivery, etc.) often come into place quite easily.

Mark Jones gets this as well as anyone, and has built a smart marketing business to prove it. I recently asked Mark to describe in greater detail his approach to successful marketing and advertising.

How has successful marketing changed since you started in the ad business?

When I started in the advertising business in 1989, television was considered THE primary advertising medium, and the Internet didn't even exist as a consumer medium. When we first started presenting Internet options to our clients in the mid 90s, it was a hard sell. Most people weren't connected or only had a slow dial-up connection (remember 1200 B.O.D., anyone?), so the online audience was too small to justify. When the web audience finally ballooned to justify the numbers, the dot-com bust burned many advertisers, and Internet was once again a hard sell. Today, we are not only recommending a strong Internet component in our campaigns, but with many target audiences web advertising and branded entertainment have replaced television as the primary medium. But calling it "the Internet" is just too vague, so we break it down into websites, e-commerce sites, online advertising, search, social networking, branded entertainment, viral, mobile, and whatever comes out tomorrow. What's great for us is that now that video plays well on the web, our television experience puts us in a leadership position on the Internet. Do you really want a web designer creating your video?

What’s been the key to making television advertising so successful for so long?

Even with the new importance of the web, television is still as powerful a branding medium as ever. The highest definition video is a television standard, not a web standard, so if you want your product to look and sound its best, television is key. There is still no better way to create a laugh, generate fear, or engage a consumer quickly. Even with broadband connections, the web pales by comparison in delivering the goods. Consumers must wait for a small video to load, followed by a tiny video that is compressed beyond recognition, and then play it through your computer speakers. Consider that most web video starts as "broadcast quality" and then gets squished and scrunched down until it is "acceptable" for the web. The web is catching up quickly though, and the lines between web and TV continue to blur. Sure the interactivity isn't there, but after being interactive all day at work, millions of people still want to veg-out in front of the TV.

What’s the key to making it successful today?

I think there's a misconception that TV audiences are shrinking. But since we don't pay if no one is watching, this really doesn't matter to us. And consider that some heavy user groups average more than six hours of TV viewing every day, any news that the thirty second ad is dead is a bit premature. So it really comes down to our target audience: if they have the TV on, we want to be there.

What makes video such a compelling medium for marketers?

The storytelling ability. Video is more than pictures, its words, movement, music, emotion. I can show a new sports car from every angle, inside and out, zoom in for a close up, cut to a wide shot, enhance it with music while you hear the throaty exhaust in surround sound. I can put you in the drivers seat or make you look on as an envious observer. I can explain that it has 300 horsepower without having to say it. That doesn't work in a skyscraper ad on a website, or a magazine ad. A picture is worth a thousand words, and video is moving at 30 pictures a second, and has words to boot.

Can you share any best practices about what makes a good DRTV spot work?

Direct response is about creating compelling demonstrations and backing them with strong testimonials. Follow this with a persuasive call-to-action that has a good product at a great price. Then, it is simply a numbers game. What was the ROI? If it works, buy more media and run it again. If it bombs, don't.

How do television best practices translate to other media – print, online, etc.?

The creative strategy should be created independent of any medium, and the concept should map directly to the creative strategy. With a solid strategy and concept, it shouldn't matter what medium you work in.

You have a five-floor elevator ride. How do you describe Jones Advertising?

We're a small advertising agency that makes a big impact for our clients. Check us out at

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