Whitepaper Spotlight: The End of the Line for Marketers

By ADMA’s Multi-Channel Acquisition Council

It seems the marketing industry has always discussed and been divided by “the line”.  It has categorised marketers and agencies as specialists in either above-the-line or below­ the-line, but in recent years, the line is blurring as more marketing efforts take on a full 360° approach.

ADMA’s Multi-Channel Acquisition Council has challenged this ancient thinking through their whitepaper “The line doesn’t exist. An overview of how above-the-line media are becoming direct”.

The whitepaper delves into the various channels and how each are changing and have evolved to become direct.

How is online advertising becoming direct?

Once the realm of annoying pop up banner ads and spam emails, online advertising has had to work hard to rebuild its credibility. Peter Davies from Adconion feels that the online industry has created a rod for its own back by allowing the medium to become over commoditised by concentrating on clicks; “there is more to online than this”.

It is this type of blind  focus on Cost Per Click or Cost Per Acquisition in display advertising  that Peter Davies feels is detrimental because there “is nothing about the user, instead they are focusing on the media objective and only sometimes the business  objective. It should be about knowing who these people are and what messages will make them engage and ultimately purchase a product online or in the real word. That is where demographic targeting, behavioural targeting and retargeting come in.”

Then behavioural targeting finds customers whose online surfing patterns and habits indicate they will respond well to a specific offer. Jupiter Research states that 65% of online shoppers say that they pay more attention to behaviourally targeted advertising, than contextually targeted advertising.

Peter Hunter from iProspect  feels that only about 10-15% of companies are making the most of online  targeting capabilities- “the  full suite of online’s opportunities hasn’t  been  fully explored yet” … so there  are a wealth of opportunities out there  for those  who can get  this right.

How is TV becoming more direct?

TV is at a pivotal stage in its lifecycle where it needs to adapt. TV has historically been seen as one of the most effective mediums for mass communication, but in today’s world of interactivity, it has to change to still be relevant. Advertisers are demanding greater targeting and accountability, which will be the way of the future. TV will become more direct – much like a computer IP address leaving advertising and marketing more targeted and relevant.

One interesting point from the whitepaper was the fact that TV is becoming a two way medium capable of direct marketing rather than just a one way medium of advertiser message to consumer’. Only time will tell with this medium can offer marketers….

How is radio advertising becoming direct?

When TV was launched, many thought radio would die. Reality has turned out far from that as radio continues to play an integral part in the lives of many Australians.

From a marketer’s perspective, radio has some distinct targeting advantages. Radio is a live omnipresent medium that is consumed at home, at work, and in the car, offering unique day-part targeting opportunities. Ralph Van Dijk from  radio specialist agency Eardrum  claims that with radio  “we know what they  are doing at that point in time, and can tailor  our creative accordingly to be more targeted, relevant and effective.”

In terms of direct response, the link between radio and online is well established, which according to Nielsen, over 80% of people who hear a relevant radio commercial referring to a website have visited that website  as a result.  Digital radio means more channels, more listeners, and from an advertiser’s point of view, this all means customer segments are now easier to target. More channels means brands  have the opportunity to develop integrated branded programming to add  value to distinct customer segments.

How is mobile becoming direct?

Mobile has always seen itself as having a highly personal relationship with its user­ the consumer. Marcus Giles from Telstra Media states that the power of the consumer is continually growing and consumers should be seen as partners, especially as they can reject you before they have even met you! Getting consumers to “self-select” their interest for relevant opportunities is key. For example Audi used Telstra Mobile to reach their specific target customer for the launch of a new Audi. Direct  integration into Audi’s CRM system provided a real time view on customer queries, meaning that a hot lead could be acted upon  almost immediately. Morgan Stanley’s renowned Internet analyst, Mary Meeker believes “more users may connect via mobile devices than desktop PCs within 5 years”.  This statement is already becoming reality in Australia­ Telstra reports that approximately 75% of users to some high profile online properties

In summary, the whitepaper discusses the personal and portable nature of mobile which allows marketers to be relevant and valuable based on the consumer’s location, behaviour and current situation.

How is print advertising becoming direct?

Print media is one of the earliest forms of communication. In fact you could say that print -media launched mass media and marketing from what had been up until then one to one communication. Joe Talcott from News Ltd said in the whitepaper that press is often labelled as “the poster boy for a dying media” but Joe feels this is far from reality. Peter Hunter from iProspect highlights how offline also drives online. “In the past we have seen clients stop their offline advertising, because search was delivering the results. However when they stopped advertising, all of a sudden the search results dropped off.”  Peter Hunter feels that about 67% of search comes from an offline source such as direct mail and so stopping this source is not recommended.


This paper has shown that each of what was seen as the “traditional above-the-line” mediums are fast becoming capable of direct marketing, signalling the end of the line. Traditional mass market channels have to adapt to a more interactive landscape to remain relevant. The old patterns of dominance are changing given the greater insight into consumer behaviour that is now available with intelligence.

It’s clear from the whitepaper that increasingly sophisticated and selective consumers can abandon channels if they fail to stay relevant. Even the supposedly ‘new’ technologies are re-inventing themselves and their application to adapt to this rapidly changing environment. It’s an exciting time to be in direct marketing -some channels will prove to be less effective than others in the increasingly crowded media landscape, but all will provide greater insight into consumer behaviour. All channels now have the capability to be direct it is now up to the marketer to adapt their thinking and finally remove “the line” for good.

The whitepaper was produced by Allison Ells and Chris Maloney from ADMA’s Multi-Channel Acquisition Council. Click here to view the full whitepaper on ADMA Dialogue.

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