Breaking with tradition?

Mauro Stoico
Managing Director
Kantar Media

What does the future hold for ‘old’ media?

With the digital sector powering the growth of advertising investment and monopolizing the attention of advertisers who seek to understand its workings, it seems all too easy to focus on what is simplistically referred to as “new media”.

“Old media”, and television in particular, is still present and prominent within Italian households, despite the number of audio-visual devices multiplying each year. So, how should a “traditional” media type, such as television, inspire the whole of the media sector in its future strategies?

The resilience of historic media

To understand the complexity of the media landscape, Kantar Media’s global Dimension study cross-referenced the opinions of connected consumers with those of the sector’s leaders. While television programmes are progressively branching out beyond television sets, nearly 95 percent of each demographic group across five of the largest media markets in the world – the US, UK, France, Brazil and China – still watch them on their “traditional” television set.

The focus is on the rapid  development of video on demand (VOD), and the end of several cable channels has been announced, to the benefit of formats better adapted to “new screens”; however, it is clear that traditional television remains a solid and relatively resilient medium.

“Traditional” media as a whole are not being replaced by their digital versions; each complements the other and is used differently. The rise of new media is undeniable, but the Dimension study brings some perspective to the sometimes-hasty conclusions made about their rapid rise. It is important to highlight how much of a rich, mixed and varied media landscape we live in.

The impact of TV

As the leading medium for product launches, television is, after the press, the media format in which advertising is most widely accepted; 33 percent of consumers interviewed in the survey say they enjoy watching ad spots on TV, compared with 25 percent for online spots. Sector leaders have interpreted this phenomenon as being less related to media formats than to the difference in quality between “online” and “offline” advertising content. On this point, they agree with consumers, and recognize that content initially produced for offline media is not sufficiently well adapted to online media.

In the era of micro-targeting and programme-based approaches, television is still at the heart of cross-media strategies. As the media sector evolved, consumers acquired new content viewing habits, and their attention span is now suffering the consequences. Their average attention span for adverts has been reduced to five seconds, which explains why viewers are increasingly critical of the content with which they are bombarded.

In front of their television set, consumers’ attention, a rare commodity, is maybe even more focused than elsewhere: no information flows obstruct the visibility of ad spots; channelhopping, which is now less systematic, is not comparable to the “click reflex” used to avoid ads online. Their levels of annoyance may even be declining as they wait for the end of an advertising break. All things considered, the good old screen may be the key format to focus on when learning to frame consumer expectations.

The key aim now is to learn how to capture people’s interest, using audience measurement to make the most of the broadcast environment during their campaigns, as well as on different ways to convey emotion right from the first few seconds of an ad spot. Television is a research, analysis and implementation platform like no other.

The Dimension 2018 study insists on the need for brands to adapt to new consumer attention span norms, and to respond to them through increased creativity, relevance and adaptation to different media. The audience’s perception of the quality of advertisers’ communication campaigns has declined slightly over the last year, showing that much remains to be done in order to increase the sector’s standards vis-à-vis end consumers.

For a global perspective on market issues, see the full Dimension 2018 study here: