Traditional Media in the Digital Era

Traditional media is having difficulty adjusting to the digital media environment. In this post I will discuss what adaptations I believe need to be for traditional media companies to continue to compete. My opinions are based on my experience interning at a newspaper and a digital ad agency, as well as other trends. In my opinion the most difficult problems traditional media faces are the continuous fragmentation of the media and outdated metrics for measuring advertising impressions. Historically traditional media has benefited immensely from being able to gather millions of viewers on television or reading a newspaper. With more and more channels and multiple sources of free news (online news, blogs, TV, etc) the number of people a single network can attract at any given moment has significantly declined. As a result selling media space has become more difficult. One of the biggest obstacles I have seen account executives encounter is new media. Smart businesses owners are figuring out a large percentage of their traffic is coming from Google; many people have become tired of ads being pushed at them and prefer to do a quick search and read reviews on Google and Yelp. This is a great concern for advertisers who worry about the ROI of their advertising. It is much easier to measure the success of digital campaigns and to optimize them. Digital ads also offer superior targeting techniques such as demographic based ads, interest based ads, and cookie tracking where advertisers can retarget you after you visit a site. In order to survive the transition it is essential traditional media embraces the digital platform.

As the number of sources of revenue decline, newspapers need put more emphasis on mobile and online banner advertising. However, this alone won’t be enough. A diversified digital portfolio is key to success. One market that is currently booming is e-coupons services such as Groupon, Half Off Depot, and Living Social. These services benefit the consumer by providing huge discounts, bring in revenue for the newspaper and coupon company, and provide businesses with exposure and traffic. Besides a diversified portfolio, online newspapers need to build interactive communities that give people a reason to return, increasing traffic and impressions. Traditional media still has some advantages.

Traditional media benefits from the fact that older demographics aren’t comfortable with the internet and more likely to pick up a regular newspaper. Traditional media’s bread and butter is relationship building. Account executives still make most of their sales with their enthusiasm and charm. This is more likely to win an advertiser over than talk of numbers and metrics. Traditional media still has a presence but its weakening.

My recommendation: if you are ready to apply for your first job in media sales look in the digital arena.  The amount of time people spend on the internet is steadily increasing and every media company is going to need people on their team who have a solid knowledge of digital media.

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