American Idol: Why Traditional Marketing’s ROI Is Increasingly Questionable

It’s taken a singing competition to underscore the importance of measurable ROI.

Last month I pointed out how mobile marketing really boosted the success of American Idol (whose parent company, FremantleMedia, is a mobileStorm client), much more so than traditional marketing. Specifically, I pointed to the record numbers of voters–the majority of whom had texted-in–who participated in this season’s finale between wholesome, broadly-appealing winner Kris Allen and runner-up Adam Lambert, whose artistic risks such as a Middle Eastern take on “Ring Of Fire” thrilled music aficionados while likely scaring Middle America. These figures were in seeming opposition to Nielsen ratings numbers, which indicated that viewership was the lowest since the show’s second season.

At first, this seemed to prove that digital messaging engages consumers so much, their participation becomes much more significant than that of a larger number of less-engaged consumers. But The Business Insider notes that the problem may have to do with Nielsen’s technology that gathers viewer data.

“A recent Nielsen study of how people use the meter showed that enough viewers punch the meter incorrectly, particularly when watching TV in large groups, that national ratings could be off by 8 percent,” the report says. Fox, of course, is furious. Such a flub affects how much the network can charge for advertisements that run during the show. Other TV networks are also wary, since their own ratings and ad rates may also be affected.

The only silver lining here is for digital message marketers. Unlike TV ads that are run based on (now-suspect) viewer numbers, SMS and email  campaigns offer absolutely-measurable ROI:

  • You can count how many unique users (cell phone numbers or email addresses) are participating in a campaign–whether they’ve opted-in to receive email messages or texted into a premium SMS campaign.
  • You can see how many people who received your message further acted upon it–such as the number of people who redeemed a mobile coupon, or who clicked on an email sales flier and ultimately made a purchase.
  • You can see which of your campaigns did better than others.
  • You can use demographic and psychographic information to see which groups of people responded the most to your campaign.

You just can’t get information this specific–or this accurate–with traditional marketing methods. The Nielsen controversy proves that.

Eydie Cubarrubia

“I’d rather you text me”


2 Responses

  1. MLM Software says:

    mobile marketing really boosted the success of American Idol. Wow, so surprise.

  2. I will admit that AI is getting a little old but I still like it because it is an "easy" watch for me.

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