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May the Force (of old media) be with you

21 February, 2009

I’m sitting here with a copy of Brad Howard’s article in Digital Media entitled “Print Strikes Back”, about how digital is taking a very long time to kill of the print industry. I do think that the death of newspapers at the hands of online was always a tad exaggerated. I think that even more when tucked up in bed of a Saturday morning with Herald and a cup of tea.

But I still think that too much value is placed on heritage media format, and sadly, often by other forms of legacy media. Is that a kind of ‘scratch my back and I’ll scratch your’ I wonder.

Brad’s article (worth the read) talks about the 10% rule – newspaper circulation accounts for about 10% of readership, but online activities account for only about 10% of revenue (hat tip: Scott Karp). That said, it seems that old media still has the credibility and, as I’ve blogged before, is definitely seen as where the money is…

I’ve got a couple of particular cases I am grappling with right now, which I won’t got into, but I am struggling with how to get people to let go of traditional media- and take the plunge. In one case, a major brand is thinking of a beautifully targeted reality TV series. Talent is organised, audience (nicely niche) is assured – but they want free-to-air TV and not subscriber TV. In reality, 35,000 dedicated viewers who will shop in their store is a lot better than being shown to 120,000 uninterested people – but they want the ‘reach’ of FTA (who, sadly, aren’t interested because it is too niche!).

Another: when going after a target market of 35+, would you rather a three page spread in a magazine in a Saturday paper (circulation figures are 600,000+ – if you can trust them); or front page mentions, full page coverage and links from all over one of Australia’s most popular celebrity/lifestyle portals (Unique Viewers more double that of the print publication). Sadly – the online coverage is second to the legacy coverage, even if the right audience is more likely to be online.

There is a great chart I found on an Amnesia presentation which highlights this from an attention angle really well. I don’t have their permission (sorry, boys), but am hoping the liberal mentioning of their names will make them go gentle on me:

Media consumption across Australian's online (ht: Amnesia)

Media consumption across Australian's online (ht: Amnesia)

What it basically says is that we spend 18.7 hours on average on the internet, and only 3.7 reading print media. In the target market of 35+, online is still 17.7 hours versus 3.65.

I love old media. New media would be so boring without it – but isn’t it time we really started to think about where our audience is (and how we might reach them)?

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