Mark Ritson, one of the world’s most regarded media commentators, recently published an article in Marketingweek.com and as usual he made some daring claims about all media. What was pleasing to us about this article (and many others coming out in 2018) is that radio has survived the digital onslaught well and is poised to again find strong financial and audience deliverables in 2019.
The main point he was making in this article is that while digital ad spend may still be growing at the expense of newspapers and magazines, market maturity is approaching, news brands have diversified and most ‘traditional’ media will also grow next year. Radio, TV and Outdoor are the advertising mediums scheduled to continue relatively unscathed into 2019.
He says of radio “again, this is the story that no one wants to talk about because the myth that radio is somehow struggling to maintain its place in the digital world has taken hold of the marketing mindset in too many organisations. Too often articles about radio are accompanied by a monochrome photograph of a 1930s family huddled around an ancient transmitter. In truth, both radio and outdoor are growing, not because the surge in digital media but because of it. And mid-way through this year we passed the watershed point where more radio was listened to on a digital device in the UK than via broadcast radio. Break it gently to your digital media mate the next time you see him down the pub, but he is going to have to learn all about radio and outdoor because both are now demonstrably more digital than they are traditional. There is a recurring myth that the rise in digital ad spend has come at the cost of ‘traditional’ media as the old world is replaced by the new.”
In terms of print, he casts an interesting view. “Before the financial crash, when the world was rich and digital media was nothing but a glint in the eye of a young Mark Zuckerberg, a big newspaper would typically derive 70% of its revenues from advertising and just 30% from subscriptions. Today that situation is reversed for most successful news brands, with 70% or more of their revenue derived from subscription and a minority from advertising income. But the future for news brands is digital and that brings with it new challenges and opportunities. Many great mastheads – starting with The Economist, The New York Times and News Corp’s global stable of titles – have all become masters of marketing funnels and, wait for it, digital marketing. It’s an impressive transformation. The arrogance and insularity of newspaper executives was once legendary. But it’s amazing what an existential threat to long-term survival does to a business.”
His final point reflects on how, “in a strange way, 2019 offers a curious kind of stasis for all of the various media companies. For pure-play digital there is growth mingled with a growing realisation that momentum is slowing and maturity awaits. For radio, TV and outdoor there is small but not insignificant growth, with the caveat for TV that its audience continues to slim, albeit from a huge initial base. For news and magazine media there is yet more advertising pain to come but the comfort that comes from better run operations, a new business model and a transformed set of capabilities. Peace on earth and good will to all media, then.”