Could political advertising save legacy media?

Newspaper stock photo
By Savannah Marie
March 12, 2014

For the last several years, an ongoing battle has been waged for the future of local marketing. It took about a decade, but it now seems as though the “legacy” media industry – that is, newspapers, magazines, cable television and radio – may have finally lost its grip on local advertisers.

So what’s responsible for this shift? The Internet. To be more specific, digital marketing has emerged as the nearly undisputed heir apparent to legacy media, at least where local advertising is concerned. During his recent keynote address at the Local Online Advertising Conference, Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell confirmed that, over the next five years, legacy media’s share of local marketing could be gutted by half; in 2013 it had a 52 percent share. By 2018 that number is expected to look more like 25 percent.

That’s a lot of money, and most of it is flowing in the direction of non-media channels in the technology sector. Spending on social-media marketing and search-engine optimization is expected to see significant growth over the coming years.

Strange Bedfellows?

The good news for legacy-media outlets is that not everyone is ready to abandon traditional publishing and marketing techniques. While newspapers and cable television may be losing the war for the soul of local advertising, political advertising could end up providing some much-needed relief to a troubled industry, though perhaps only briefly.

Borrell went on to speak about his firm’s research, which indicated that political advertising on legacy-media channels could see a dramatic increase over the next four years. This type of spending currently sits at about $120 million, and could rise to as much as $950 million in 2016. It’s no coincidence that 2016 is also the year of the next presidential election.

Accounting for the Shift

For some of us, social media has been omnipresent for what seems like forever, but it really only entered the political arena in a big way in 2012. Barack Obama’s presidential campaign used Internet technology and social networks in then-groundbreaking ways, as when he took to the popular news site Reddit to do an AMA (Ask Me Anything).

Ever since, politicians have been creating their own budget-friendly viral content on social-media sites. This mirrors the shift of locally owned businesses, such as construction companies touting new services and restaurants hoping to make a name for themselves, which have taken the leap and invested heavily in their own social-centric online presences.

Even with politicians and businessmen taking to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, local media companies are still flourishing thanks to political spending. While 2012 may have begun a media revolution that was a long time coming, it’s not really expected to take hold in a widespread way until after this next cycle of elections. It gives legacy-media outlets time to breathe a sigh of relief and to think about what the future holds for them, but it won’t last forever.

A potential solution for traditional media outlets currently sitting on shaky ground would be to begin providing digital and traditional advertising solutions concurrently. Television isn’t going anywhere, after all, and seems to complement social media in meaningful ways. One only hopes that the coming leap in legacy-media spending doesn’t create a false sense of security; now is the time to innovate.

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Posted by on March 12, 2014. Filed under Media,Recent News,Top News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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