Death of Mainstream Media? Not Just Yet

Singapore's ad expenditure in 2006. Source: Nielsen Media Research

Recent newspaper reports indicated that ad expenditure in Singapore has risen by about 4% to $1.94 billion last year. This reversed an 8.3% decline the previous year before. Entertainment outlets and services were the biggest mainstream media spenders at $202.5 million. This was followed by the retail industry with $136.5 million, followed by government and social organisations at $92.4 million.

What's surprising was that most categories have shown an improvement, with television pipping newspapers yet again as the number one choice for advertisers, while magazines showed the greatest percentage increase. On the other hand, radio advertising seemed to have fallen significantly. I suspect that this may be due to the migration of listeners away from terrestrial radio stations towards podcasts and MP3.

I noticed with chagrin that online media buys weren't anywhere in the reckoning. Surely the almighty Google, which is generating a kingly sum every month from adsense revenue, should be inside? How about Yahoo!, MSN, Asiaone and other portal kingpins? Shouldn't our A-list bloggers be seen as "media spaces" too? I hope that they are not excluded because the numbers are too small to be of any significance!

I guess web channels still aren't seen as mainstream marketing arsenal in this 2.0 oriented day and age. When I speak to my peers, most are still more comfortable with the usual advertising lingo like GRPs, TARPs, Viewership, Circulation, Readership and so on.

Ask them about page views and unique visitors? Some will start to scratch their heads. Number of links? Click throughs? Even more so. If I start to talk about RSS feeds, number of Diggs, technorati rankings, or tags, most will probably think that I am some alien life form.

Certainly, the above results show that mainstream media is still the kingpin. Most marketers prefer to fall back on the tried and tested - at least for now. With such a highly web savvy population extensively participating in citizen media, I am sure there is a lot more that we can do online.

I believe the trick in this transition period is to marry both traditional and new media to yield the best results. New media can be used largely for experimentation and trial while mainstream media provides the foundation to build on. That way, we can hopefully have the best of both worlds. In future though, the balance may change. But for now at least, mainstream media is still here to stay.

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