What Does the Media Meltdown Mean for Marketers?

Davidcard[Posted by David Card]

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The Advertising Age headline reads “Future May Be Brighter, but It’s Apocalypse Now.”

 

CBS, the number one TV network, saw its ad revenues decline
13% in 2008, and that was before the recession really took hold. CBS’s radio
business was down 12%. The former home of “must-see TV,” NBC had two shows in
the top 20 for the week of March 30, and they were both ER. Unfortunately they
were the series finale and a retrospective. NBC will be replacing its 10PM
line-up with a Jay Leno strip because it’s cheaper than producing dramas and
sitcoms.

 

It’s one thing when the Rocky Mountain News stops printing.
But the venerable New York Times might have trouble making its debt payments,
and is threatening to shut down the Boston Globe if its unions don’t cave.
Meanwhile, Oxbridge Communications’ Mediafinder says that 335 magazines
launched in North America in 2008. But 525
folded.

 

The most recent Forrester advertising forecast is the
Jupiter model from December (we're updating it as I type). We were projecting
negative five-year growth for US “off-line” -- i.e., not online or digital --
advertising as a whole. The total spending on print and radio will be down
double digits in 2013 versus 2008. TV will be down double digits this year, but
will eventually start to grow again, probably in 2011.

 

Clearly, ad-based media companies are scrambling.

 

But what does this mean for marketers?

 

  • Hits still matter. Sure, media’s
    fragmenting, but the Super Bowl and Amercan Idol still pack ‘em in.
    They’re not cheap to produce, or to buy. Joint sponsorships, crafted early
    in programming development, will gain traction.

 

  • All media is multi-media.
    Audiences are demanding their content on whatever screen they want. Some
    media brands have good multichannel stories (ESPN, CNN, Comedy Central,
    Nickelodeon, the Wall Street Journal). But online is dominated by pure-plays
    like Google and Yahoo, who don’t have cross-media capability.

 

  • Integration might get harder. So
    if you want to do cross-media integrated campaigns, you’ll have to pick
    your partners well. Otherwise it’s up to media buying agencies that
    generally lack creative thinking about engagement, or online ad networks powered
    by robots. That’s fine for direct marketing, but how do you do engaging
    branding?

 

  • Social is the biggest thing in media.
    And no one really knows how to do it yet. How can media companies harness
    their fans’ creativity, use them for promotion, for distribution? There
    are early examples of fun “meta media” -- media about media, like
    Television without Pity, TV.com, Rotten Tomatoes, and, yes, reviews on
    Amazon and Netflix.

 

  • Dis-intermediation seems unlikely.
    Agency “studios” have pretty much flopped. Creating great content is an
    art and a science, and I remain
    skeptical that popular entertainment and information media can be created
    in-house. And even then, it still needs a distribution channel. The
    current media industry value chain may have some loose links, but it
    doesn’t feel like it’s ready to be replaced completely.

 

  • Branded entertainment is a must.
    Which brings us back to deep partnerships and co-sponsored content. In
    order to create win-win-win content 
    -- good for marketers, good for programmers, good for audiences --
    it feels like marketers and media companies have to get together sooner in
    the process. Not every network can be HGTV or the Food Channel, where
    product promotion and placement is a natural. It’s going to take more than
    getting Jack Bauer to use a Sprint phone and a Cisco router.

 

I’d like to hear what you think. Stay tuned: I’m working on
a series of reports on how marketers should handle the media meltdown. And
check out my “Future of Media” panel at Forrester’s Marketing Forum in
Orlando this week.

Comments

re: What Does the Media Meltdown Mean for Marketers?

Is there trouble with the media? Yes absolutely. Do I believe some forms of media will pick up again? Surely.But one thing is certain. Marketers need to focus on leveraging the cross hybrid between traditional media and new media approaches. It seems that many marketers we speak with have very little understanding of social media. They read about it, and hear the great success, but hesitate because it is not 'traditional.' I say the single most important thing to note is to learn to use them both effectively to engage and get the most bang for your buck.