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BIG’s Blog: Follow the Money

When you want to know what is really happening, especially in the realms where people or businesses are choosing to spend their money … you follow the money.

One person’s actions are not necessarily representative, nor are they a statistically valid trend for a whole population. However, when we begin to compare our behaviors and habits today to five years ago, even we can see things are changing.

Five years ago (2009), I watched regular TV programming. Admittedly not as much as I used to, but still, I watched television at the regularly scheduled broadcast times. But also, five years ago I began to record some programs using my new DVR.

Today, other than a few big sporting events, with maybe the Oscars thrown in, I rarely watch live TV. In fact, since acquiring Netflix streaming three years ago, I have not watched but maybe two live shows on TV.

Am I so different from you?

Little by little, step by step, our behaviors and habits are changing when it comes to how we get information and entertainment. It never happens overnight, so we just gradually shift without even noticing it.

And what is at the heart of this change? That’s right, digital disruption.

So when people’s behaviors and habits begin to change based upon new digital online technologies like DVRs and Netflix, pretty soon businesses who depend on reaching people through advertising start to notice.

For years broadcast networks have seen their advertising decline as new alternatives like Netflix and, of course cable TV, began to dominate. A network broadcaster may only have one channel, but cable TV delivers them all.

But just last week, cutbacks lead by GM and Procter & Gamble saw the first big pullback in ad revenue for the crucial “upfront” of ad dollars committed to cable networks for the fall season.

And what are the advertisers shifting their marketing dollars to? You guessed it: digital media, including online video.

“Cable TV networks have been a bright spot in the overall TV ad business in recent years, taking ad dollars away from broadcasters as they have ramped up original programming and built loyal audiences. That momentum is stalling.”

Stalling? If my habits (and yours) are any indication, it will soon be in freefall!

So if the big boys are switching from “traditional” media to digital and online, what about you and your direct mail? There is nothing more “traditional” than direct mail.

And it isn’t that direct mail doesn’t still work in generating net revenue, but just like broadcast networks and now cable TV … it’s not what it used to be. The decline is already underway.

For fundraisers, digital and online fundraising must start generating significant revenue … and soon.

And you need to do it while you still have direct mail bringing in the dollars.

Drip, Drip, Drip.


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