What’s your favorite kind of pie?

Studying advertising in school, we learned about the traditional media mix. It was always represented by a pie with television, radio, newspaper, and magazines as some of the main slices. In the past decade that pie has grown and become even more flavorful with the expansion of the Internet as a communication medium, social networking tool, and even a series of virtual communities.

As many career colleges have discovered, the always increasing viability of the Internet as a legitimate marketing tool has brought about a series of potentials lead generators from pay-per-click management campaigns to search engine optimization.

Now, not only are career colleges competing for lower rates on television advertising and more competitive newspaper placement, the ever changing interactive environment has schools bidding more aggressively on pertinent keywords and seeking out the most compatible affiliates for particular curricula. It seems that the interactive arena is the hot spot for focused marketing efforts, with costs-per-lead appearing to leave traditional media in the dust. If you can get students in your classes for less money using the Internet, why would you want to leave any of your advertising spending for that television piece of the pie?

In the beginning of direct response advertising, the response was elicited and the phone call came in. With the new media of the current age, the black and white line of proper lead assignment could become blurred without the larger perspective. Now an ad may run and a call didn’t come, but the prospective student decided to search for the advertised curriculum and then visited the school’s website for more information. Was that lead generated through search engine optimization or from a television push? Or was it 1 lead generated from a cohesive broad media campaign?

As the effective tracking of leads becomes more refined with dedicated phone numbers and specific tracking URLs, the answer becomes more clear. A school can decide to go the route of using just the Internet to promote their classes through banner ads and pay-per-click campaigns. In the overall campaign perspective, they lose standing and appealing credibility when sized up next to their competitor who is utilizing a similar program, but also keeping their name in the public eye using the reliable mass appeal of television and newspaper – still proven sources for “warm” leads, ready to take the step to personal development.

As we as an industry continue to grow and change with the undulations of marketing to a known, yet sometimes surprising consumer base, it’s important to keep a measured approach to the ever changing innovations. Based on initial results, the new media approach to direct response advertising is a no-brainer, but completely eliminating the basic source for primary lead flow and secondary brand recognition pushing new media leads can diminish the effectiveness of the overall campaign. And by leaving out the basic elements, you will end up with a media pie that is just half baked.

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Julie Zittergruen

Great article Danny.