Hey, Advertisers: Dave Morgan Wants to Show You How Your TV Ads Fail

Originally Posted on Advertising Age

If McDonald’s execs knew its TV ads were reaching 20% of its audience 32 times in a month and 20% almost not at all, would they still be lovin’ it?

We’ll soon find out. Simulmedia CEO Dave Morgan has run the numbers on virtually all national TV campaigns over the past three months – 60-odd marketers from Geico to Burger King to Walmart – and published them in a little blue perfect-bound “Book of Reach” he’s handing out at the Association of National Advertisers annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.

It’s a marketing stunt by a vendor hoping to get the attention of big marketers, but it’s also an attempt to answer the age-old John Wanamaker question: Which half of my ad spend is wasted? For a marketer like McDonald’s, which spent nearly $1.4 billion on advertising in 2011, the question isn’t immaterial. But Mr. Morgan has decided to answer the question – and publish the results – whether it was asked or not.

Marketers don’t generally like to be shown the shortcomings of their specific ads or strategy. They like less having that data published in a book or posted on a website, and Mr. Morgan knows his strategy could backfire.

“Do we realize that we create anger by naming names?” he said. “Yeah, we are cognizant about that, and that’s why we published so many. Everyone has this problem. It’s not just you.”

Mr. Morgan is hoping they’ll find solace in the fact that they’re pretty much all in the same boat. With Nielsen’s commercial ratings and a brew of set-top data, Mr. Morgan says most TV advertisers lavish 85% of their media spend reaching 40% of their audience, meaning a small portion of the country gets spammed with too many of the same ad, while 20% to 40% of the audience, adrift in a sea of niche cable networks, devices and the web, is nowhere to be found.

“The solution for this is if you recognize audiences are fragmenting,” he said. “The future of TV media is the data-driven assembly and aggregation of hundreds of thousands of small spots put together in precise ways rather than the mass blind buying of big TV shows.”

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