Sunday, June 17, 2007

With big web users, print takes the hit

"I never thought it was humanly possible, but this both sucks and blows."
Bart Simpson

With big web users, print takes the hit
Spending less time with papers and magazines
By Diego Vasquez

It's already been a rough year for magazines and newspapers, with ad revenue falling, high-profile publications closing and circulation slipping. Now here's another worry: Heavy internet users, who long reported going online at the expense of TV watching, say that it's now print media that's getting less of their attention. When asked which medium they use less because they are spending more time online, respondents to a new JupiterResearch study on media consumption picked newspapers No. 1 and magazines No. 2. What's more, the percentage of those citing those media has risen 4 percentage points apiece since 2003, with newspapers at 39 percent and magazines at 32 percent. By comparison, the percentage who say they're spending less time with TV has actually fallen 11 percentage points. to 30 percent. The study also looked at time spent per week with different media, and newspapers and magazines were again at the bottom, taking up just one hour each per week. Going online and watching TV led with 14 hours apiece, followed by radio at four hours. Of course all of this is based on what consumers reported, and such self-reporting is not always totally accurate. David Card, vice president and senior analyst at JupiterResearch and author of the report, talks to Media Life about what the print drain means for buyers and planners, what smart print publications should be doing, and why households with high incomes are using the internet more than TV.

The perception used to be that online time was infringing on TV, but now it seems the infringement has shifted to print. Why, and how much will this continue in future years?

That's what our stuff suggests. TV's the biggest time consumer other than the internet, so you wouldn't be surprised if people say that's what they're spending less time with. Over the years more people said they were spending less time with television a few years ago than now, so I think that's stabilized.

But there is some evidence that if anything's getting hurt it's print. I'm nervous about that if I'm in that industry, but I'm not sure I would panic. Magazines are struggling, but [lifestyle and women's titles] have big, colorful pictures that advertisers like to take advantage of.

A weekly news magazine, that's a tough business to be in right now. But the token, the daily local news business, is a model that translates online. From a user experience you can create content, since the internet is still primarily a text medium. I think clever newspapers will figure it out, but it is one [medium] that could go away in the long run.

Now the local news business, smart papers will figure out how to deliver a smart news product like carrying a paper if you're a commuter, we're seeing the free commuter tabloids. I'm not completely sold on that model, but they do get into people's hands. But I don't think it's going to save the industry or anything.

I'd look hard at it if I were a newspaper, but I'd look harder at going online.

What does this mean for advertisers?

The big advertisers in newspapers aside from classifieds tend to be cars, retailers, department stores, some entertainment, the big bucks. It's funny, there're plenty of people who live in New York and use Yahoo. So you could, in fact, buy local on quote-unquote national sites, or global sites for that matter.

The people who are taking advantage of local internet advertising are national advertisers who target locally. It's about [smaller businesses] becoming comfortable with it. It will take local businesses time to come around to that.

Right now it's more for people with bigger budgets and a staff who think about marketing. So it will take a while before they come online, but the audiences they're trying to reach are already there.

What's the most important thing media buyers and planners can take from this study?

I don't think I'll try to make the case that they should take TV money online or newspaper money online. Half the time people spend online is doing email or instant messaging, so it's not a traditional media experience.

That's what makes it interesting too. The internet is a medium, yeah, but it's a two-way and a communications medium as well. The takeaway as a marketer or programmer is you have to optimize for that experience.

We as an industry need to figure out how to do marketing in a mixed communication environment. Paid search is kind of like direct mail in the real world, but it's actually quite self-selected, and that's different from regular media.

I think the big deal is it takes a different kind of marketing strategy to properly use the internet. And there's no medium that's for reaching everybody, especially everybody a lot of the time.

You found that users with household incomes above $100,000 spend a lot more time online than watching television. Why?

I think those people are probably not that young but in that internet sweet spot of 35-55, probably hard workers too. It may just be that they're not couch potatoes and they're doing a lot of communication online. I just assume they're not classic entertainment types. And that's a good one, that's a striking number.

You found that people report spending as much time with TV as online, but there's still a hugely disproportionate amount spent on television advertising compared with the web. Why is that, how will we see it change, and what sort of patterns do you think will emerge because of this in e-spending?

There're a couple of reasons. TV is the big spending pot, although newspaper is pretty darn big. Newspaper classifieds are actually migrating online. But the local display ad stuff really hasn't.

But TV is the place where they spend the most money, partially because if you're a packaged goods company or a car company, chances are you actually aren't doing much direct selling. The product moves through a complicated distribution channel. In Wal-Mart's case, they're very much doing awareness and brand identity.

TV is a great medium for those kinds of messages, you can tell a visual story. It's also interrupted, so it's a linear medium. In reality it's not measured as well as the internet, but for the most part people are comfortable with how it's measured.

The internet's kind of a cross between a print experience and a TV experience at best, so it's not surprising the money you'd spend is less.

On the other hand, it's highly targetable, highly measurable, and capable of delivering these messages. And it can be linear in the cases of pre-roll ads, etc. When the current generation of buyers and sellers is replaced by the next, who were raised with the internet, I think you'll see a lot of techniques migrate across media, and also by then TV will be as measurable as the internet.

You found that young adults spend more time online than watching television. Obviously no one will be abandoning TV, but how important are multi-media campaigns these days in reaching this desirable audience?

I think that's the real key. If you look at 18-24s, for a lot of the research we do, this group is very different because they aren't always "settled" yet, and they're probably more willing to try new things. But you will see some striking differences.

They claim they spend twice as much time online than with TV. The internet's not a perfect medium at all, but you do probably need to be there-but you also need to be on TV. It's still important to deliver the glory shots of the car or beer on TV, and then follow with the detailed information online. Also, talking about how it's a two-way medium, you'd think that means a social network is a perfect blend, but I think we're definitely still trying to figure out what to do, how to market on social networks.

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