Digital Content & The Impact On Printed Media
In the modern world there are two main channels through which the world is viewable by the public, digital content and traditional printed media, The second is starting to show signs of strain with readers turning away from traditional printed media and towards the web, and advertisers shifting their spend towards the web.
Many marketers are watching the shift with alarm, with many estimating that 75% of their spend is now spent online and only 25% spent in print. With print advertising accounting for less than 15% of their spend, many marketers are finding themselves at a loss as to how to make the shift.
The solution many marketers have come up with is to invest in web marketing services, with many companies boasting multi-channel campaigns and a stream of data showing their campaigns are working.
Is this the end of the printed media?
Not by a long shot. There is still an appetite for print media in the UK, with the Independent and the Guardian still taking in the largest print readership in Britain and the Independent’s website gaining a million hits a month.
The reality is though that print is struggling, there has been a sustained decline since the mid eighties, and this has continued through to the present day, with the Observer recently announcing that it will cease print publication in 2013. It is being reported that the demise of the newspaper is nothing more than an evolution, not a death, and that the UK is heading for a niche media role with the Independent now aiming for a share of the digital market.
The demise of the printed media is nothing new, and certainly nothing universal. But what is, is that print advertising is dying, and that the end is near. The demise of the printed media will not be universal, but the decline of the printed media is nothing new and there have been countless market segments that have survived long after they might have collapsed. But that doesn’t mean the media won’t change.
The Big Change
The big change is happening now, as advertisers shift their spend online. The media has been caught napping, caught flat footed, caught unprepared, and this has forced many to change their approach, to re-evaluate what is possible, to reshape their plans. The changes are coming and they are coming quickly.
This has led to a shake-up in the media, with the big names looking at the smaller local media to fill the revenue gap. For example, the Evening News has gone from being the second biggest advertiser behind BT in the Evening News, to being less than a tenth of BT’s size and now has less than one tenth of the print advertising spend.
The big local media has been forced to change how it works, to deal with the challenge of changing consumer behaviour, of shifting people’s expectations. The Evening News has cut its adverts substantially. It has closed many of its Sundays and is now only publishing one major advert a month. It has reduced its weekend circulation and now just publishes on weekdays. It is being squeezed on-line, by the major retailers who are reducing their print adverts and trying to grab customers in-store.
And the consequence of this has been a big jump in spending on advertising online and in print, by advertisers looking to reach a new audience. The media is looking at reducing its own adverts and increasing its spend on print and online, in order to survive. The demise of the printed media is here. And the demise of the printed media is not imminent. But the changes in advertising are, and that is what is leading to the digital transformation.
There are many factors behind this. But the big news for advertisers is that people’s expectations about advertising have changed dramatically in the last five years. We are less dependent on advertising than ever before, but the price of advertising is still relatively high. So advertisers are trying to work out how they can reach new audiences for less.
So here are a few insights on how the media can focus on the new digital medium.
- Make your content discoverable. So your content can be found by people in different places, on different devices. It looks different and sounds different. It will still be read but it will be read differently. That means make it discoverable by mobile.
- Give it some kind of monetary value. You can charge for your content, and give away digital copies but that will only go some way to addressing the costs of producing your content. So give it some monetary value.
- Make sure that it is continually produced. Content needs to be continually created and continually delivered to different audiences as new devices are bought. It needs to be able to stand on its own two stop signs.
- Make sure that it is constantly improved and supported. You will need an engaged audience to help you get it right, and they will need to keep it constantly improving and supported.
The new digital medium brings with it a host of new opportunities to deliver advertising messages. So a healthy debate is taking place in the media industry about how the industry can adapt to the new digital medium. But over all the media needs to make sure that its content reaches new audiences, in a way that makes it discoverable by these new digital readers.
Digital content can make a difference to your business. If you get it right then you have the chance to make a big difference to your bottom line.
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