December 27, 2006

The Future Look of Newspapers is not the Net, it’s the Tabloid

It’s not just the Internet that’s holding newspapers back; it’s the lack of experimentation and innovation, a kind of collective blindness to what is working with today’s consumers.

If newspapers are to survive as a viable medium, they need to adapt to a new media age in which even loyal newspaper readers face many challenges in dealing with an old form of information delivery.

One of the oft-cited positive attributes of print media in general is that they are portable, easily read on trains, planes and in bathrooms. However, it is hard to apply the word ‘easy’ to reading a broadsheet on the scale of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal even on one’s breakfast table (unless one dines alone). And all of those sections!

Consider, on the other hand, how easy it is to read tabloids such as New York’s own Post and Daily News. No folding and refolding just to view and inside page. No moving from section to section to follow an article. Just turn the page; it’s nearly as easy as clicking a mouse.

Moreover, the tabloid format has to be much more profitable because of reduced paper costs.

Ad pages smaller? Well, to the reader it has been my experience that a page is a page is a page; i.e., it fills the viewing ‘frame’.

Feature sections harder to find? Why not tab sections with little half moon cut-outs on the right edge to indicate key editorial offerings such as entertainment, business, sports, etc.?

No, I don’t have all the answers. But I think the newspaper industry can find them if they move more boldly to make themselves more user-friendly and accessible.

December 22, 2006

Nielsen's Top Ten Lists for 2006

Check this out. American Idol, The Super Bowl, Pirates of the Caribbean and Harry Potter are just a few of the winners in Nielsen's annual top ten most popular media offerings: href="">this!

December 21, 2006

Advertainment becomes the programming format of choice."
- J. Walker Smith, Ph.D., President, Yankelovich, inc.

It's the Customer Stupid

David Ogilvy taught us junior O&M'ers years ago that all good advertising and marketing solutions began with a study of the consumer. I think it's fair to say that this still applies to virtually all aspects of marketing today, especially the business of media selection.

People today spend 1,555 hours annually watching Television, 190 hours surfing the Net. They spend 975 hours listening to Radio, 19 hours with Interactive TV and wireless content.

Perhaps that's why so much of what's called 'new' media today are simply new platforms for television, usually in a smaller and/or less convenient form: sports on mobile phones, anyone?

Begin media planning with a clear understanding of how your customers and prospects use the media today, and allocate your sales messages accordingly.

Note: Media usage data from the Statistical Abstract of the U.S. Census Bureau.

December 20, 2006

The New Media Emperor May Not Be Fully Dressed

The media seem intent on publishing their own obituaries in advance of their demise as day after day we see headlines about how 'new' media are displacing 'old' media. This reminds me of the boomtime when reporters took their personal experiences of being online all time time and inferred that that was what 'everyone' was doing or about to do.

In 2006 some Network TV programs delivered rating levels that haven't been seen in years: "American Idol", "Dancing With The Stars", "The Super Bowl", "The Academy Awards", "The Rose Bowl" are just some of the shows that garnered enormous audiences this year and are likely to continue to do so for some time to come.

Similarly, Yahoo, MySpace and Google also generated huge audiences in the past year. But how effective is a 'page view' or a search result for an unknown brand? Oo one has established that the web can build brands the way television built marketing primacy for Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Toyota.

Perhaps the web is an efficient way to grab the low hanging fruit of people who are in the market today for a product and aware of and favorably inclined to your brand, a way to convert an advertising-generated predisposition to a sale.

Branding means predisposing customers and prospects to your product or service. In my opinion, this is best achieved via what are called traditional media such as Television, Radio, Outdoor, Magazines and Newspapers. What the Net seems to do well is to capture sales from people who have already been pre-sold on the Brand by these 'old' media.

So, first thought for media strategizing in 2007: it's not a matter of what's old or new, it's what will work best to generate results now and that's likely to be a blend of media, vintage and fresh.