Greater than the sum of the parts

By Simon van Wyk

In this month’s HotHouse podcast, iPrime executive director Tony Surtees makes the point that the predictions of the demise of traditional media and traditional advertising are premature. Decline, yes, but demise, no.

He says the theory about a new medium killing off an old one is trotted out every time a new form crops up. “When the VCR was invented, there was a view that it would kill off the movies. Now they’re saying newspapers, TV and radio are dying, particularly with the rapid uptake in Internet use. But there’s very little data showing that one media industry shuts down when another one rises. The old ones, however, have to adapt to the new environment.”

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Regarding the current woes of TV and newspapers in terms of viewership and advertising dollars, Tony says the question mark over these industries is “whether the cultures within these organisations are prepared to take on board the change and adapt to different ways of thinking about their audiences and the people they serve.” But, he adds, “I don’t think newspapers will disappear; I don’t think television will disappear.

“In fact, there is evidence that TV viewership has gone up recently, due to the cocooning effect of the recession.”

In terms of marketing and advertising, Tony said there are indications that traditional media are already taking steps to survive by, as he puts it, “blending into a different architecture of engagement.” That means forming innovative combinations of messaging – combining online and mobile, mobile and TV, online and print, etc. in order to craft a message that is more than the sum of its parts.

He points to recent studies in the US and UK which indicate that multi-platform advertising (particularly combining TV and online) is more powerful than using one medium on its own, resulting in a more than 40% boost in advertiser brand recall.


A study performed by the NBC network around its coverage of the 2008 Olympics showed that clients who advertised on and the Olympics on TV had a 31% increase in brand recall and a 41% increase in message recall over those who had only advertised on the TV broadcast.

The UK study, conducted by the Internet Advertising Bureau, found that the likelihood of buying or using a product increases by more than 50% when TV and online are used together.

The IAB study identified a synergy between the two media, with both TV and the internet being used for entertainment (80% for TV and 56% for online) and both having a significant influence on driving purchase (75% and 52%)
A qualitative and quantitative study (including eye tracking and heart rate monitoring) conducted by CNN International, meanwhile has suggested that brands that combine TV with online advertising are more memorable to consumers, with TV and online content eliciting an emotional response from the audience and increasing engagement during ad breaks.

The researchers all agree that the findings reinforce the need to” ensure creative synergy between TV and online advertising and identify best practice for better effectiveness, which requires more than simply putting TV ads online.”

Tony Surtees says it’s a matter of choosing “different modes for different times. The trick is for advertisers or media companies to engage people most effectively in the environment in which they are.”

Toby Tidmarsh



  1. It is all about economics.

    The main challenge faced by traditional newspapers in regard to switching to delivering their services via the Internet is their shareholders.

    This is because newspaper shareholders expect to receive substantial profits from their investments (up to 300% in some instances), which the Internet will never deliver to such capital intensive operations.

    For example, the West Australian newspaper was until recently delivering over $100 million in annual dividends to investors after covering huge operating costs. This is a newspaper that serves a state population of only 2 million. Few websites which serve only 2 million visitors will be capable of delivering such high returns to operators. And few advertisers will be prepared to pay the many thousands of dollars for a single page advertisement on the internet as some advertisers have been doing for a single days exposure within the printed newspaper.

    Once the newspaper investors realise this, they will abandon their newspapers investments and switch their interests to more lucrative forms of investment. This will then leave the web open to capable and skilled operators who are able to satisfy the needs of visitors and advertisers, while generating adequate returns on their investment.

    There are already many examples online of capable and skilled operators creating websites which serve the requirements of their visitors while providing the website operators with adequate returns to continue operating the website.

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