Lack of Brand Equity Value is Hurting Media

By Jack Myers Jack Myers TomorrowToday Economics Archives

Does a media company's brand equity matter in the cluttered media landscape?  What defines media brand value today?  Terry Kawaja's LUMAscape chart of content publishers shows hundreds, even thousands, of mostly undifferentiated media brands cluttering the media ecosystem.  Just a few decades ago there were only three major TV network brands that dominated the industry and captured the lion's share of video ad dollars.  While these broadcast networks remain major players, today there is a dizzying array of video media options that deliver varying degrees of advertising effectiveness.  The value of media is being increasingly commoditized and media brands are being commensurately marginalized.

Recent MyersBizNet research indicates that the dependence on personal and codependent relationships between media buyers and sellers has diminished dramatically over just the last two to three years while brand trust and brand safety, along with data and analytics, have emerged as the most relevant contributors to the media planning and buying decision-making process, of course along with cost efficiency.  But even as marketers have demanded greater media cost efficiency and pushed their agency buyers toward more sophisticated audience metrics, marketers have equally pushed back hard when their commercials are associated with content they deem to be inappropriate for their brands.  Over the past two decades, as digital has emerged and fragmentation has accelerated, the ability to differentiate among media brands has almost disappeared.

Brand equity is defined by:

  • differentiation from competitors;
  • relevance to a core and well-defined audience;
  • effective and consistent communications of differentiation and relevance;
  • consistently delivering on brand promise in the face of competition.

Media companies have allowed their brands to become amorphous and neutral, with the priority being placed on the size and composition of their audiences.  Commoditization and brand equity are now in direct conflict with each other, with commoditization winning.

Differentiation, relevance and effective communications were historically considered essential for brand building and were at the center of advertising and marketing, but few media companies can clearly establish how their relevance is differentiated from their competitors -- and even when it can be established, the value of traditional trade media for effectively communicating that message has eroded.

Positive brand perceptions can directly impact on revenue growth and any diminishment of positive perceptions can be costly.  Jack Trout, the father of positioning theory, pointed out that "brand positioning will happen whether or not a company's management is proactive, reactive or passive about the ongoing process of evolving a position.  But a company can positively influence perceptions through enlightened strategic actions."  For media companies, the question becomes: How much is your company investing in positively influencing perceptions of marketers and the media planning/buying community?

While the media and advertising industry focuses increasingly on data and analytics related to media purchase decisions, another data set should be prioritized: What is the equity value of your brand and how can more effective perceptions management positively impact value and revenues?

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