Breaking News On The Internet

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Media is changing much faster than you think. Today, Pew Research announced that the Internet has overtaken Newspapers as a news source for the mass population. Once again, this changes everything.

"The internet, which emerged this year as a leading source for campaign news, has now surpassed all other media except television as a main source for national and international news. Currently, 40% say they get most of their news about national and international issues from the internet, up from just 24% in September 2007. For the first time in a Pew survey, more people say they rely mostly on the internet for news than cite newspapers (35%). Television continues to be cited most frequently as a main source for national and international news, at 70%. For young people, however, the internet now rivals television as a main source of national and international news. Nearly six-in-ten Americans younger than 30 (59%) say they get most of their national and international news online; an identical percentage cites television. In September 2007, twice as many young people said they relied mostly on television for news than mentioned the internet (68% vs. 34%)."

This is taken directly from PewResearchCenter Publications’ news item, Internet Overtakes Newspapers as News Source.

It’s been easy Blogger fodder to look at the decline in some of the mass media traditional channels like newspapers and radio. In fact, just yesterday, Mediaweek announced that radio revenue was down 20% in November. While the news looks grim on many levels for these media channels, the Internet’s growth – while impressive – still raises the major issue:

Who is going to pay for all of this content that we are all now consuming online?

You can blame the Blogs, you can blame The Huffington Post, you can blame Twitter, and you can even blame iTunes Podcast section for all of this free and "breaking news" content that is available, but online marketers are having a very difficult time turning all of this traffic and content into cash flow positive advertising dollars. Even the ones that are turning a profit cannot compare those dollars to what their traditional counterparts were used to pulling in, and therein lies the rub: As Marketers we are faced – at this immediate moment in time – with a huge and complex problem…

The Internet is growing too fast. Traditional mass media is slowing down too fast, and there has not been ample time to build a sustainable and reliable advertising platform for the new media channel to adjust fast enough to all of these changes.

Any idea how long it took channels like newspapers, radio and television to optimize their product to make it so appealing to advertisers? Most advertising professionals would argue that all of these channels are still working at it. How can we fairly compare the advertising streams online to those of other media channels that have been around for close to a century? Even attempting to compare new media to traditional media is ridiculous. If you layer on top of that the way that consumers receive the messages, it gets even more complex. We’re moving from a traditional and passive channel into one that is not only interactive, but individuals are now able to use these channels to become publisher’s of their own content.

The fragmentation of media continues.

We are about to head into a time of Holiday break. Everything is about to shut down until the new year starting sometime tomorrow (with the exception of this Blog). If you do one work-related thing while on vacation, think about how consumers expect all of this content for free. Think about how much new and emerging traffic is being directed to these online channels. Think about what advertising models would work best to connect consumers and advertisers, and then ask yourself the bigger question:

How are we going to become better Marketers online as this channel continues to be the place where everyone is going to get all of their information first?

You can feel free to just dream about what this world will look or share your thoughts, ideas and comments below.


  1. Hey Mitch – Happy Happy and Merry Merry and all that!!!
    We all forget that these things called “trad media” were never invented to distribute news. News was the shit they would fit in between all the ads – if they had room!
    They (TV, Mags, Radio Newspapers) were invented to sell ads. Full stop.
    The fact the Net is overtaking the trad newspapers is no surprise. The newspapers effectiveness ended when news = entertainment.
    I could write a damn book on that one – don’t get me started!
    A combination of tabloid journalism literally everywhere you look and a weakening of the effectiveness of a lot of advertising in general caused a lot of fallout.
    Don’t get me started on the demise of advertising.
    Sadly, the Net is no better. Still tough to find a learned source – no gatekepers.
    And with all the so-called online ad activity – it is getting pretty dreary in here. I see one more rich banner ad and i will start writing my Congressman. If I had a Congressman. Hey I could write Nancy Greene! MARS Bars! Yay!
    Je digress….
    I see two camps that just don’t get it.
    Mainstream media plays out the hackneyed same old same old day after day. The Internet is evil. It is all about porn, and identity theft and weird old guys luring youngsters to parks etc etc
    The Net crowd rejoice in any advertising failure in the trad media.
    Sheeesh. No wonder clients can’t figure out if it’s Tuesday or Page Two!
    I was readin a bunch of comments on a Social Media site. These folks submitting are no doubt pretty bright.
    But they wouldn’t know “marketing” if it hit em in the ass with a shovel.
    Trad newspapers are down cause “WE” get the media we deserve.
    Demand better, you will get better.

  2. Well, we’re into the ongoing dumbing down of everything. Which will continue to increase the spread between informed / uninformed, rich / poor etc. I’d be interested to know from the Pew studies how long people say they spend with their media of choice to learn about international news. We all know that due to layout and resolution, it’s easier to read at length from print rather than screens. So, McNews on a screen is fine.
    You’re right, things have happened a bit too fast. Let’s say the NY Times calls it quits tomorrow. Not just the paper, but everything around it. Then what? Or the New Yorker or Atlantic mag.
    If the papers really start to lose advertising to the point on non-profitability, and their sites have never made money, where will they start to cut first?
    You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone….

  3. I think we’re over-analysing this issue. All that’s happening is there’s a change in how people are consuming information. And some people are even choosing not to consume at all.
    So perhaps brands should step away from paying for space in media and purchase their own dedicated marketing channels, that will disseminate brand information their consumers want. It’s targeted marketing 101. Think Pepsi Newspapers, Pepsi Radio, Pepsi TV: the latest music videos, the latest parties and no news breaks – if that’s what the market wants. Keep it targeted, keep it branded wall-to-wall, keep it sophisticated and real…the consumer winds up paying for the platforms and content thru subscription models and away we go.
    But no matter how shiny the wrapper, it won’t matter unless the content is quality. So now content providers become critical. All those out of work journos and writers will be able to sell their content/ideas to the highest bidder.
    And marketers will need to find out ways to convince consumers to purchase those subscriptions to pay for all this.
    It’s just a thought…

  4. What’s also fascinating from the Pew article is that the Internet rivals TV as a news source for the “highly desirable” 18-29 year old demographic…clearly something that should spur advertiser and publisher innovation and experimentation

  5. There will be a flight to quality – that could be via the web or via one of the traditional media.
    Quality requires finance and that either requires a benevolent backer or a decent advertising model.
    People “accept” ads in traditional media, and they will accept ads in some format on the web – unfortunately no-one has found the silver bullet. Yet,

  6. This may sound old fashioned, but I wonder if there’s simply an education process that needs to happen. Perhaps most digital natives have never really understood, or even thought about, that excellent content has a price tag. Someone’s got to pay for the content and/or the technology/distribution system that provides it. In the past, that price has been paid through commercial sponsors. Sorry kids, there’s a deal here. You want great content, well someone needs to pay for it. (Isn’t this the same generation that thinks wearing designer labels is a God given birth right?) It seems like the YouTube’s and Facebook’s of the world just keep trying this or that advertising format and see if their users accept it, and if not, they try something else. Maybe that public needs to be educated on the benefits to them in terms of content quality when that content and its distribution are supported via commercial sponsorship. Hey, sounds like a PR campaign waiting to happen.

  7. If you’re not making money online, you’re not trying hard enough. But you’d better start trying because it’s not just those youngsters who are online. Our local news site – independent, grass roots, small, blog format, run by journalists (I quit a 30-year old-media career a year ago) — is popular with a ton of people closer to my age, or even older. And by the way, old media has nobody to blame but themselves for relatively low online ad rates. A local publisher even ‘fessed up to that in a recent cable-TV interview, and I witnessed it in my TV work over the past decade-plus. The sales department considered online a throw-in or throwaway, and (paraphrasing that publisher) “trained” advertisers to pay low rates. Are they trying to correct their ways now? Not necessarily: Even the newspaper trade associations are running around to this day talking down the online eyeballs’ value (per a recent radio interview out here). Time to stop the wailing. The future is now. No going back. Save the money you’re wasting on the presses, the paper, the transmitters, the towers, and get your eggs in the right basket fast.

  8. As a former radio / TV reporter, it’s been a blast following the change to Internet news delivery, but it all comes with some concerns. Key is the tendency for many users to assume that if it’s on the ‘Net it must be true; and the change in the definition of ‘news’ to include almost anything from rumor and innuendo to full-on flame wars.
    While there’s no doubt there’s a building question of confidence when it comes to main stream reporters, anchors and networks by the general public, there is an expected level of journalistic integrity connected to most – something that can’t necessarily be expected of citizen journalists. How we get past some of the obvious issues of misinformation, hidden (or not so hidden) agendas and continue to encourage the free exchange of information, visuals and concepts is going to be an interesting process. One thing’s for sure – all of this will speed us through 2009!
    Best of the season, Mitch and thanks for your efforts!

  9. There is a definite learning curve for all of us here. I run a local politics blog and it is murder trying to get candidates to use the free space I give them. I offer space to local activists to do some advocacy journalism, anything to generate public discussion, and you can just hear the crickets.
    But what we have now in the trad papers is positively awful: sloppy, inaccurate reporting, obvious political slants and talking down to the readers. So many local people HATE our local newspaper monopoly, and we have snickered when we heard they had to downsize and combine with another paper nearby. But the void must be filled. Locally, it is still being done by amateurs. the pros are still clueless.

  10. I think Amod Munga got it right in the head.
    Content will become king (right now is the crowning process) and the marketing dollars won’t work the way they used too.
    Seth Goding has published some interesting posts in the same matter, and all points out that the content-tailored-to-your-needs/interests will be the way to go down the road.
    More work? Absolutely!
    But times are changing, they need to keep up or they’ll die…for good.

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