Traditional media isn’t dead, it’s just adjusting

Kathy Coyne
Kathy Coyne
Harmelin Media

We often hear about the growth of digital media and the increased adoption of new media devices. With the press that digital media receives, it is easy to think that traditional media is becoming obsolete, especially among younger adults. It is true that TV, radio, magazines and newspapers are not the dominant media that they once were. But they are not dead. They still play a significant role in consumers’ lives.

A Media Dynamics Inc. study on America’s Media Usage & Ad Exposure found that traditional media (TV, radio, magazines and newspapers) occupied 78 percent of the daily per-capita hours of media usage for the U.S. adult population in 2014. TV had the largest share of time spent with media, 5.25 hours per day, or 53 percent of total media time. Internet usage, including streaming TV and radio and digital editions of magazines and newspapers, accounted for 2.19 hours per day, or 22 percent of total media time.

The Nielsen cross-platform study for second-quarter 2014 confirmed that even younger adults, ages 18-34, spent much more time with TV than digital video. According to the study, adults 18-34 spent an average of 4 hours and 17 minutes per day with TV, compared to 35 minutes with digital video.

About 244 million Americans ages 12 and older, or 91.4 percent of that population, listen to the radio each week. Comparatively, the weekly online radio audience is 94 million, or about 36 percent, of Americans age 12 and older. Traditional radio listening is still strong among young listeners.  Some 89.5 percent of people ages 12 to 24 listen to the radio each week, and they spend 10 hours and 11 minutes per week doing so.

Print media has struggled more than broadcast media in the digital age. We’ve seen magazines and newspapers close after decades of success.  According to the Spring 2014 survey by the leading producer of media research – GfK MRI – only 54.4 percent of adults 18 and older read any newspaper in a 28-day period. Advertising dollars have declined along with the readership. U.S. newspapers saw a $40 billion drop in revenue from 2000 to 2013.

Although print subscriptions have dwindled, we know that there is still desire for the editorial content.  The New York Times’ paid digital subscriptions now outnumber its Monday-Friday print subscriptions by 43 percent. The Magazine Publishers’ Association recently released a new industry measurement called Magazine Media 360, which measures consumers’ exposure to magazine content across print and digital editions, websites, and video. The September 2014 Media 360 Report indicated that print and digital magazines accounted for 67 percent of the total gross magazine audience.  An additional 33 percent (or about 500 million adults) accessed magazine content via mobile, web and video.

Some 91 percent of all adults, and 96 percent of adults under 25, read magazines. Social media enhances the magazine experience, especially with younger readers. The MPA performed a benchmark social media study among adults 18-34 who read magazines and use social media. They found that 56 percent of Twitter users follow a magazine editor or columnist on Twitter. Also, 56 percent have followed a magazine on Pinterest or have re-pinned content from a magazine; 52 percent ‘like’ a magazine on Facebook; and 47 percent have posted magazine articles to Facebook. These numbers are even higher for avid magazine readers.

No one can deny that digital media is growing, and it will continue to grow. However, traditional media should not be cast aside just yet. Every medium has its strengths and weaknesses. Demographics and psychographics play a major role in determining the best media mix for a given product or service. One thing is for sure – as our media world becomes further fragmented, it is more important than ever to have multiple touch points in a campaign. Integrating media mixes across digital and traditional vehicles is essential to reaching today’s consumer. 

Kathy Coyne is media director for Harmelin Media, one of the largest independent media service companies in the country.

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