“Hybrid media” (newspapers) an acquired taste for the advertising community


OO occasion, I'm invited to speak to the advertising community on behalf of newspapers about our industry's view of the emerging media ecosystem. Tomorrow, my audience is the Union of Belgian Advertisers in Brussels.

In the course of my research for this speech, I ran across an interesting web site called the “Print Power,” operated collaboratively among the major print industry players in Europe.

It's here where I found the advertising industry's phrase to describe the Industry Formerly Known As Newspapers: “hybrid media.”

“The new phase of planning media has to deal with hybrid media,” according to a recent posting by Print Power editors. “Media that are not any longer what they seem to be. We have seen newspapers migrating to the internet, sometimes even in the same layout as the printed version. But more spectacular is the integration of other media 'genes' like the use of e-ink in the anniversary issue of Esquire in 2008. Or the integration of RFID in the French Magazine Amusement. Both examples offer advertisers and readers an enhanced reading experience.”

What I can't judge, from the advertising community's perspective, is whether this is something creative to be celebrated or something new to be adopted – like a new strain of spinach.

My instinct in recent years is that any change in the advertising community's value chain was one to be celebrated by agency CEOs looking for new solutions – and to be loathed by the people below them who preferred to think of newspapers as print, television as broadcast, and radio an AM/FM question. The advertising community remained, at the DNA level, platform-specific instead of results-specific.

Newspapers will continue to be the solution provider for print and its attributes of high engagement, deep loyalty and passion, a canvass of emotion, a tangible influencer of society, and a platform whose advertising messages can't be blocked or skipped by technology.

Yet more and more, “newspapers” will be local audience brokers across media platforms.

Throughout Europe and North America, most major newspapers are aiming to integrate their print and digital advertising sales teams – a much tougher task than one might think. For even in our multi-platform world, resistance is high. I heard recently a major newspaper company had half of its digital advertising sales team quit because they refused to sell anything but digital advertising.

So, if this is an adjustment for the advertising community, it's certainly an adjustment for the new hybrid media.

A recent Veronis Suhler study shows that between 2007 and 2012, U.S. advertising and marketing share will shift dramatically: from 41% to 32% for traditional advertising (newspapers, TV, radio, outdoor), from 46% to 42% for traditional marketing (direct marketing, promotions), and from 13% to 27% for alternative interactive channels (online advertising, branded entertainment, world-of-mouth marketing).

“Hybrid media” will only grow in stature. For newspapers, we want to be the local audience solution regardless of platform.

This will require a new relationship between the advertising community and newspapers. Are we finally ready to take that step together?

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