Digital & Physical Collide!

As a music marketing professional, I find it interesting to watch the new & old marketing techniques unleashed by retailers during the biggest selling season of the year. For the last few years, media & analysts have been proselytizing the end of the physical newspaper. Many newspapers have closed their doors while others are finding their digital niche. Personally, I prefer to read national papers like USA Today on-line because they do such a fabulous presentation for the iPad. However, I still subscribe to the physical version of our local Sunday paper, The Tennessean. My main reason for subscribing, is to see, touch & feel the sale circulars. A few years back, I developed the habit of watching the Best Buy, Target and Wal-mart ads religiously. I couldn’t wait to see the ads that I had booked for new music releases along with competitors’ ads each week. The circulars served as a barometer for the level of marketing support behind select music titles and the level of support the retailers were giving the releases. Those tiny little pictures of CDs in the Target, Best Buy and Wal-mart Sunday circulars cost record companies $25K-60K each with that price doubling during November/December. I would feel like a king on Sunday as I viewed my ads in the circulars knowing my artists were viewing the same ads and getting their egos stroked! Then I would pray that Wednesday’s Soundscan numbers would justify the ad spend, which it very rarely did.

One of my favorite sales circular weekends is Thanksgiving. I never venture out to shop on Black Friday but I do get a rush viewing the ads. This year, one ad in particular caught my attention. Low and behold… there was an circular advertising Cyber Monday in the physical newspaper. Really? I had to slap myself a few times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Exactly one week later, there was another circular in the physical version of The Tennessean. The biggest on-line retailer in the world now running physical ads. Could what once appeared as the runaway digital revolution now be back peddling? Has the digital age found consumers’ threshold for letting go of physical? Did Digital & Physical finally collide to make the perfect storm?

What unusual marketing are you noticing this holiday season?