Alternative media marketing succeeds in a recession


marketing3_small.jpgADOTAS — Across the United States, marketing budget after marketing budget has been slashed due to the impact of the recession. At the same time, sales for many products are flat or declining. Marketers are being asked to produce greater results with less money.

Ad dollars that once went to advertising in traditional media advertising are now being directed elsewhere. The latest trends show that marketers are backing away from traditional media such as television, print ads, and radio. In fact, at a time when many newspapers are being forced to shut their doors, alternative media advertising (including Internet advertising and other non-traditional forms of marketing) actually shows strong growth.

Early adapters of alternative media have experienced terrific results. The results have been so great, in fact, that more and more marketers are following suit and moving to integrate alternative media into their marketing plans. An article in the ANA Advertiser, (a publication of the Association of National Advertisers) written by Bob Liodice, ANA President and CEO, lists the expansion of media platforms as one of the top ten advertising trends of 2009.

Traditional advertising declines while plans for alternative media grow. According to Veronis Suhler Stevenson (VSS) study (* please note comment below) referenced at Marketing Charts, it is anticipated that advertising for the alternative media forms of Pure-Play Internet and Mobile Services will grow by 9.1% in 2009. Advertising growth on other alternative media forms, mobile content and video games, is expected to exceed 15%. These statistics are especially significant when considered in light of the fact that, according to the same study, overall media and communications spending is expected to drop by .4% in 2009.

The growth of alternative media despite the decrease in marketing budgets reflects two key facts: Marketers are looking for better and cheaper ways to reach the consumer and they are choosing to spend their decreasing marketing dollars on these new strategies.

Other studies support the VSS findings. Media Life surveyed its readers and discovered that 69% of them expect alternative media spending to increase in 2009. Over half of those surveyed indicated that their own marketing plans include alternative media.

What is alternative media? Alternative media refers to anything outside of the traditional advertising mediums. Traditional advertising mediums are typically thought to include television, radio, newspaper and magazines. Alternative media can be as high tech as product placement in a popular video game or as low tech as sign advertising at a bus stop.

Internet and mobile advertising are also considered a part of alternative media. Internet advertising, in particular, is showing steady growth as more and more consumers go online. Even social media, such as Facebook, are getting into the advertising business.

Alternative media is winning the competition for marketing dollars. Why is alternative media growing in popularity while the use of traditional media wanes?

The answer is quite simple: it works.

Here is an example of the effectiveness of alternative media marketing. The Health Club Media Network promoted a number of products inside of health clubs. While fitness centers members exercised, they were exposed to messages about client products in non-traditional ways.

In one instance, health club members received branded workout towels and water bottles. In another instance, they were allowed to sample the product. In case after case, the results were the same. The fitness club advertising yielded better results than traditional advertising.

Advertising in alternative media is less expensive than traditional advertising. Often, the cost difference can be dramatic. An article details some inexpensive forms of alternative marketing such as transit ads, placemat advertising, and SMS advertising that are currently being pioneered in the Philippines. As the article points out, these inexpensive advertising methods save money and they work.

What marketers need to do to succeed in today’s market. To succeed in today’s market, advertisers need to keep up with the proven trends. A successful marketing strategy in 2009 will include a wide range of marketing alternatives. Very likely, this means Internet or mobile advertising as well as some of the more unconventional forms of advertising.

Not only does alternative media advertising work, it’s less expensive – an important factor in today’s recessionary economy.

— Express your opinion, comment below.


  1. The data you reference above on alternative media is published by PQ Media, not Veronis Suhler Stevenson. We partner with Veronis Suhler Stevenson on its annual Communications Industry Forecast and license the data to them.


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