Oh God What’s Going On (With Media)?

31 Jan

Calm down. I get where you’re coming from – you see the figures saying measured media spending is stagnant, with newspaper and national spot radio spending dropping (3.5% and .6% respectively since last year), and you panic. It’s a natural response. After all, total ad spending rose 4.8% in 2011, but spending across all traditional measured media went down .2% – so where did the money go? Have no fear – it didn’t just vanish. That money is being spent on unmeasured media – advertising vehicles such as paid search, online video ads, and targeted Facebook ads. And therein lies the biggest change in today’s media landscape – the shift of ad spending from traditional measured media to unmeasured media (which currently accounts for 40% of all US ad spending).

If it will make you feel any better, you aren’t the first to weather a large change in the media landscape. It’s always been changing, albeit at a slower rate. Back in the olden days, the 60s, ad agencies used to get away with simply taking an advertiser’s money, creating an ad, and charging the advertiser 15% to throw it into whichever medium they could. Sure the advertiser got little information and input on who the ad reached and could only take educated guesses at their RoI, but hey, it was the 60s, and they were happy with that. Until the 80′s that is. Companies such as Horizon and Empower popped up with a new way of doing things. They looked at advertising less through the eyes of the creatives and more through the eyes of the accountants. They focused on the efficient use of those ad dollars, providing further insights and services designed to give the advertiser more information on what they got for their money. And for a fraction of the fee. The world of media was flipped around and given a shot of adrenaline. And everyone agrees it’s better for it.

So don’t worry too much about it. This is just another such change. There are plenty of jobs opening up – new jobs, exciting jobs! Heck – when you look at the top earning digital agencies of 2009 (according to Ad Age), many of them weren’t even around seven years ago! Agencies that are taking advantage of search and social media, most of which didn’t exist a decade ago, to earn billions of dollars helping advertisers reach consumers in more interactive, meaningful ways.

And on the consumer’s end, media is far from dwindling. People spend record amounts of time with media – up to 11 hours and 40 minutes a day with various types from mobile to television. And while your beloved, familiar TV is still on top of the game at 40% of all consumed media, it’s being enjoyed by today’s multitaskers alongside phones and laptops (77% of people use TV with another form of media).

So when you see the traditional business models of newspaper, local radio, and perhaps network TV fall, don’t panic. It’s an opportunity! As long as people are enjoying media in one form (or 100 forms), advertisers will want to reach them – and the world of media will thrive. Be looking for these new opportunities and don’t be married to one medium. Be like Oprah.

Oprah connects with consumers through any medium she wants, be it through syndicated television, her own magazine, her website, an iPhone app, even her own cable network. It doesn’t need to be a traditional medium – as long as it connects her to her audience, it’s all the same to her. So whether you are a consumer, advertiser, or a media professional, don’t worry your head about the future of media. There are some major changes coming, but the future is bright, and you’ll be fine.

-Joe Simmons


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