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Media Agnosticism

Johnny Molson

That’s a podcast above. Listen if you’d like.

Google says you should buy ads online.

Outfront Media makes a compelling argument for outdoor advertising.

Yellow Pages (yes, they’re still out there) has sales people telling you you’re missing out on an untold number of calls.

Newspaper, Radio, and TV have shoehorned digital advertising under their umbrellas promising to be a “one-stop-shop,” but even they can’t be Media Agnostic.

To be Media Agnostic means that you’re not thinking about where to advertise until you have a solid handle on what you’re advertising.

One of the core tenants we believe at our firm is:

The message makes the media work.  The media doesn’t make the message work.



That’s a simple, but not easy, idea.  It says there’s nothing particularly special about any advertising avenue.  Radio people will tell you nobody watches TV, Billboard people say nobody listens to radio, your nephew says “everyone” is on TikTok, and Google says nothing matters until your customer is online.

It’s all a lie.

From matchbook covers to skywriting, it all works.  Which is why you have to approach it all with Media Agnosticism.  If somebody in your affinity group tells you they had success with direct mail, ask to see the piece.  It matters. 

Let’s pretend you have $10,000 to give away …and I’m giving out free hotdogs at the local car dealership.  I could run two commercials every hour for 7 straight days and I might get a respectable crowd.  You, handing out free cash like you’re Don Fanucci, could block traffic with only 3 ads.

Notice I didn’t say where those ads would run.  I’m more interested in the message and the strategy.  In the race between a free hotdog vs. free money, I’ll bet my money on the money.

When Roy H. Williams wrote The Wizard of Ads trilogy, it was quickly embraced by radio.  The radio stations who executed Roy’s ideas were rewarded handsomely.  Wizard of Ads, Inc. has purchased tens of millions of dollars in airtime at radio stations around the globe.  As such, people often believe we’re a “radio” advertising firm. 

Radio is amazing.  But we’re agnostic.  We (literally) have success stories ranging from leaflets under windshield wipers, non-profit fundraising events, TV campaigns, and promotional items. 

Every media has a success story…because every media works.

You have to figure out:

  1. What you’re trying to do
  2. When you expect results, and
  3. How you’re going to measure it.

If your answer is: “I want money now and I’ll measure it by how much money I have,” you’ll want to lean toward media that tend to be good at quick results.  The various choices online, direct mail, and newspaper tend to be better at that.

If you’re trying to build or enhance your brand over time, radio, OTT, TV, and billboards tend to be strong in that area.

Please respect the phrase “tend to be.”  Nothing is 100%.  That’s why you have to be agnostic.  A radio campaign for a plumber in Omaha, Nebraska is no indication that radio is right for a CPA in Lompoc, California.

Strategy first.  Tactics last.  Always media agnostic.

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