Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Don’t Let the Dow and Prez Fool You. Economy’s Got a Long Way to Go

But, smart B2B marketers uncover great opportunities in all economies. Let the Super Bowl, not Washington or Wall Street, guide you in 2011.

You can expect the President to put forth the rosiest picture possible in his State of the Union Address tonight as the Dow crossed the 12,000 barrier for the first time since mid-2008. Factory production, retail sales and existing home sales are rising, while unemployment claims are holding steady or slightly declining in many parts of the country.

Between standing Obama-vations from the Democratic half of the audience, The Prez will likely gloss over some persistent drags on the economy beyond the obvious “jobless recovery.” Not only is the official out-of-work rate stuck around 9.4 percent, but with the slight uptick in economic conditions, many of the long-term jobless who’ve simply given up are returning to the job search game. That will likely drive the jobless RATE even higher. Meanwhile most state and local governments are broke and won’t be able to meet their pension obligations or payrolls much longer unless they continue gouging businesses and homeowners in their districts. Many parts of Europe remain unstable, China is flirting with hyper-inflation and higher food and energy prices could throw a wet blanket on household spending.

Mind you. We’re not predicting more doom and gloom here. Just be smart, so you can make the most of this recovery. Pessimism solves nothing. Remember back in April 2009when everyone else was ducking and covering? We called the end of the recession and followed it up a few weeks later with a sunny assessment of the media landscape.

Why we’re being pinpoint bullish: Super Bowl

What we like about the financial markets this time around is that most of the run up is based on legit corporate earnings and the overall market P/E is in the teens--relatively cheap by historical standards. And then there’s the Super Bowl.

Chevy and GM are back after a two-year hiatus. As many as nine card brands may be jockeying for position to pay $3 mil for 30 seconds of your time in what’s typically the most-watched TV program of the year. We’re not so much encouraged by the game day air time as by the pre-game run up—starting up to 4 weeks out and driven by online and social media. The smart money also says to look for social couponing giant Groupon to join the fray. This could signal wide scale acceptance of the social couponing category and a possible resurgence of the IPO market.

“While we’re clearly seeing a recovery, it will be more muted than after other downturns,” Zenith Optimedia CEO, Steve King, said in a statement earlier this month. It will take until at least 2012 to match 2008 overall ad spending levels, he added. Zenith predicts Internet advertising will increase 48 percent from 2011 to 2013, followed by commercial TV, movie theater ads (+19%), outdoor advertising (+18%) and radio up 10 percent, with print advertising falling two percent.

Making sense of converging media

No one honestly knows which platform, device or gadget is going to be the true winner in this decade of media convergence. And do we really have to crown a king? Blogger Seth Godin had a nice way of sorting out the landscape in his post last week.

“I don't believe this is a winner take all situation, any more than one bestselling book makes all other books obsolete,” wrote Godin. “I think different pillars work for different devices, and there will continue to be winners in all of them.”

So look beyond the dizzying array of technology and media consumptions options we’re facing. If the intense competition for our screens, brains and wallets brings us more options with better service and realistic pricing, then we say Amen to the chaos. Bring it on.


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