One of the great myths of our advertising generation is that traditional media is dying. Never mind that 30% of U.S. homes own four or more TV sets, or that the very bloggers who proclaim 30-second spots are dead also promote Panasonic high-definition televisions. Media is certainly shifting, but it’s an additive landscape — because new communication tools are overlaying old media, not replacing it.
Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff said this week that social media may be boosting television ratings, as consumers find new impetus to tune in to community events. Ratings are up in 2010 for the Grammys (26 million viewers this year vs. 19 million last), the Golden Globes (up 14%), and the Super Bowl (at 106 million viewers on CBS in January, it was the most-watched TV event of all time). Media is additive because consumers are learning to do two things at once; Nielsen reports that 13% of viewers of the Olympics’ opening ceremonies were also online typing away on Twitter or Facebook.
There is no question that the currency of advertising impressions is becoming devalued, and thus marketing is more challenging, but it’s a reset — not a vaporization. This week we discussed where all media is going with the verbally elegant Angela Natividad and ideation guru Bill Green on the AdVerve podcast.
Dirk Singer, head of the London PR shop Cow, believes attention to advertising across the board — not just newspaper readership — is what is declining, and as consumers shift media habits online ironically television networks may come out the winner. Dirk writes:
So the elephant in the room is that if we are talking about the age of news brands, we are not just talking about newspapers. It’s easy enough for the rest of us to migrate to the online services of TV news networks (and A List blogs which are no longer blogs in the 2004 sense) – TV news channels (mostly) not being in the business of charging to watch content anyway. Indeed, they’d probably welcome the opportunity to get a bigger slice of the online pie.
Good point. Newspapers and blogs and television newscasts are all starting to look the same. Blogger Robert Scoble’s posts are filled with video. The New York Times’ site has a news video section. FoxNews.com is filled with articles and columns. If it’s all the same, what matters next is who can fund the content.
When your product is free, you need money from somewhere else
TV remains the cash king. The average U.S. consumer watches 5 hours and 9 minutes of live TV a day, taking in just over 1 hour of paid sponsorships. This in turn gives broadcast and cable TV about $75 billion in advertising in the U.S. — a lot of money to cross subsidize online free content. The irony of our intellectual user-generated-content age is that passive couch potatoes may fund the revolution.
Photo: Rock Creek
Oh, internet hyperbole, it’s so tempting to believe you’re the big thing. But a new Nielsen study reports that Americans still use TV more than any other media. The average U.S. citizen spends 5 hours and 9 minutes a day in front of the live television, and 8.5 hours total in front of all screens including cell phones and GPS devices.
Younger demos skew toward newer “screen media” — adults 25-34 watch only 3.5 hours of live TV a day, vs. 5.5 minutes of internet video and a boatload on mobile. The real trend to watch, though, is the growing multitasking among almost every age group — in which consumers watch TV as background ambiance while working on computers or texting on mobile devices.
TV is still king. The question is whether consumers, in their new multitasking modality, are paying attention.