Tuesday, June 26, 2007

On the Record: They Aren't Just Like Us

On the Record: They Aren't Just Like Us
by Mike Bloxham

The very fact you are reading this article and this magazine is evidence that you are - in the nicest possible way - a freak of nature. That is not to impugn either you or the goodly publishers of Media magazine or my fellow contributors (all of whom are worthy, wonderful and intelligent people).

Rather, it is a fact based on the sheer amount of time we spend contemplating and working in the world of media in all its forms (and for those of you bridling at the very notion of being a freak for reading this, console yourselves with the contemplation of what that makes me, the author of this piece). In short, this single-mindedness makes us so unlike the people we dedicate ourselves to reaching, moving, engaging, motivating, persuading and influencing that we are - in comparison - decidedly abnormal (freakish).

Consider for example, your average work day (probably at least eight hours and generally more). For all of that time you will be rigorously focused on planning, executing and evaluating campaigns. You'll be buying or selling media. You'll be pitching new business or being on the receiving end of pitches. The list goes on, and all the while you will be dipping in and out of the stream of online articles dropping into your inbox to inform your ever-evolving perspective of the fast-moving media landscape and all that takes place within it.

Your Media Day is very much made up of the business of media itself (as well as whatever content you consume via your channels of choice). For your consumers, however, the Media Day almost certainly involves a great deal of media, but they are all about content, not the business end of things. They care more about last night's ball game, the reality show of choice and the day's morning news. They also care about their kids' education, their prospects at work, their retirement and what the family holiday will be this year.

In short, they don't really care about media itself - just what it does for them. We, on the other hand, care a lot. And that's how it should be. It's the willingness to focus so much effort and time on the business of media that makes you good at what you do. The catch, though, is that it also helps to create a divide between practitioners and consumers that can be almost impossible to bridge.

Too often one hears statements from the media community that suggest an implicit belief that consumers are "just like us" - as well-informed and equally motivated to engage with media as those of us that are paid to. How many times have you heard that "everyone" is using a Blackberry incessantly, watching videos on their iPods, blogging, spending half their lives in virtual worlds, etc? If these kind of statements had been true, then the on-demand world would already be all-encompassing, every household would have a DVR, TV would be interactive from top to bottom and most retail outlets would have become a thing of the past.

Those with a vested interest in these things happening want to find evidence for them doing so. But we have to avoid the mass delusion of the dot-com bubble. As so many more platforms and capabilities emerge and reach a potential audience, we must strive to avoid falling into the trap of believing that the simple fact of availability will lead to inevitable and habitual large-scale use.

A case in point is the video-capable iPod. In a story in this magazine a few months ago, various commentators expressed surprise that a piece of Nielsen research found only 2 percent of a sample of 400 iPod users watched video on their device. Doubt was cast on the methodology, partly because the number of video downloads from iTunes would logically indicate iPod-based viewing. But consumers are inconvenient in their habits and as research will show, many of the movies downloaded from iTunes never make it off the pc or Mac, where they are viewed without the need for a further file transfer. To many users, this is a convenient route to what they want (the movie), while the iPod still performs perfectly well as an audio device.

Though there's unprecedented change happening in the media world now, it's not all happening at the same rate. While new devices and capabilities seem to come through almost every week and companies rush to commercialize, consumers don't always follow at the desired pace. Sometimes they even adopt unexpected patterns of use that leave companies playing catch-up. It's our ability to empathize with consumers that will enable us to turn expertise to practical advantage rather than be bogged down by our own perceptions.

Mike Bloxham is director of insight and research at the Center for Media Design, Ball State University. (mbloxham@bsu.edu)

Are You Getting Any? Ad Spending From Billions To Trillions

Are You Getting Any? Ad Spending From Billions To Trillions

PricewaterhouseCoopers recently published a report entitled “Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2007-2011.” It anticipates the growth rate annually to be 6.4% resulting in $2 trillion dollars to be spent in 2011.

Internet advertising dollars are projected to surpass spending on newspaper publishing by 2009. PwC expects Internet ad spending to grow from $177 billion in 2006 to $332 billion in 2011, which predicts a 13.5% annual growth rate.

Although the United States has the largest industry, it is also the slowest growing market with a 5.3% AGR tapping $754 billion in 2011. Asia-Pacific is marked as the fastest growing currently holding a 13.5% AGR.

Over the next five years, the majority of the growth in the industry is to come from online and wireless digital media. Global advertising will increase at a 5.4% annual growth rate from an estimated $407 billion in 2006 to $530 billion in 2011. Five year projections show online/digital and mobile fields worldwide to increase to $153 billion. Broadband households will grow from 240 million to 540 million and wireless subscribers are predicted to increase from 2.3 billion to 3.4 billion globally.

PwC has said that in terms of regions, economic and media/entertainment growth will continue to foster the importance of India, China(BRIC), Brazil and Russia. “Content, distribution and technology companies need to aggressively seek out new relationships to accommodate the shift towards convergence,” said Jim O’Shaughnessy, global chairman of PwC’s entertainment and media practice

Asia-Pacific spending on distribution of TV programming on mobile handsets is expected to increase from $26 million in 2006 to $6.5 billion in 2011. At 14.7%this is three times the 5.5% growth rate projected for the rest of the world.

For papers, online's still a world apart

For papers, online's still a world apart

Media buyers want to see integrated ad packages

By Lisa Snedeker
Jun 25, 2007

For the longest time, newspapers were confused by the web, and frankly annoyed, irked that they were having to post stories for free that print subscribers were having to pay for.

But most publishers have moved a long way in understanding the longer-term strategic value of their web sites.

While they're still not sure how or whether internet advertising will ever make up for losses of print revenue, they know they must invest. They need to build up their online offerings, and they must also integrate them with their print editions, making them that much more attractive to advertisers.

Yet very few papers have yet to pull it off, just a handful. And the fear now is that time is running out.

A new JupiterResearch study on media consumption shows that people are spending more time online but they are doing so at the expense of newspapers. They are going elsewhere. The worry is that advertisers will follow.

The value of integrating print and web is in being able to offer advertisers combo deals that tie them into the paper. That means deals that are flexible, easy to understand, and priced in a way that makes them that much more attractive than anything the competition can come up with.

It's doable. The devil seems to be in the transition. All but a few papers continue to sell print and online separately, through different departments, each with its own rate card.

“I don’t know that newspapers have it 100 percent right yet. They are still trying to figure out structure and price to make those multimedia buys," says Randy Bennett, vice president of audience and new business development for the Newspaper Association of America.

And Bennett allows that there's a real need for it. “From the advertisers’ side, there’s particular interest in trying to change the media mix and moving money online,” he says.

A recent survey by the Newspaper National Network found that 74 percent of their customers felt newspapers should offer integrated packages. NNN sells advertising for more than 1,500 newspapers across the country.

A similar Media Life survey a year ago found much the same thing. Media buyers regarded them a top priority, and a far bigger story, way ahead of the circulation issues that dominate so much of the coverage of newspapers.

The absence of integrated ad deals was a major source of frustration for media buyers.

Little seems to have changed in a year.

“We are not being approached with combo packages as of now,” says Mike Monroe, vice president of media and advertising operations at Macy’s, which advertises in four dozen newspapers and is one of the Los Angeles' largest advertisers. “Frankly, more times than not, we are the ones pushing bundling a print campaign with their (newspapers) online property.”

There are exceptions, of course: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Tampa Tribune are among those cited for offering integrated advertising packages across print and online platforms.

Most newspapers continue to see online as value-added, something to tack onto a print buy. Print is where the big dollars are, and there's where the interest is too.

As Bennett suggests, the problem is working out the details of a truly integrated buy, in which media buyers could move and choose from column A and column B and shift dollars back and forth as plans changed.

That's a lot harder to create than a bundled package with a single price and no flexibility, which is exactly what buyers do not want, says Jason Klein, president and chief executive officer of the Newspaper National Network.

“The print and the online package should not be stapled together but rather built using elastic bands for flexibility," Klein says.

“There is pressure from consumers and the market that newspapers have to be integrated to build that, even if it means they have to retrain their work force,” Klein says. “Change is never easy, but it clearly needs to be done.”

But one buyer at a top agency believes things have improved. She's Jouette Travis, executive vice president and managing director of Dallas-based Carat USA.

“Newspapers are getting better about selling combined print/online packages, and we are responding by having our internal newspaper and online teams make joint evaluations,” she says. "This has resulted in some new programs and begins to pave the way for a migration to the future of newspapers. It's very exciting to see publishers getting into this marketplace."