Oh the Irony, old media is back – Really?

How we love to talk digital to our clients! TV is dead. Radio? forget that and as for Press, does anyone read a newspaper or magazine these days? The only media anyone wants to talk about are one word, single syllable and didn’t exist outside the streets of Shoreditch until 2 years ago!

To say the very least our world has has shifted drastically in the last 10 years. Approaching 60 I remember a simpler time with only 3 TV stations, national newspapers with circulations in double digit millions and a strong vibrant local newspaper and radio station serving every community. Now like millions of Londoners I can happily get through the week without referring to a single piece of hard copy print and also without using a pen!

Quick fact – over a third of global advertising now goes to Google or Facebook!

Interestingly though studies are showing that digital media may not quite be the silver bullet we once made it out to be – and indeed, can fall short of even the most traditional methods of communication on key metrics. The message, increasingly, is that what you want to say should define the way you say it, and not the other way round: choose the medium that’s right for your message.

For some messages – and often the most important ones – the digital tide seems to be turning.

The penny is finally dropping that when you want to say something serious, you still need to do things traditionally. I’m at the age that my kid’s generation are all getting hitched so we’re fortunate to be invited to a number of weddings in the next few months. Even the redoubtable Mrs G bemoaned the other day how naff an emailed wedding invitation was compared to a traditional vellum card

For me though the ultimate digital/traditional irony was the grovelling apology by Facebook for their Cambridge Analytica data breach misdemeanours. So where did the bastion of all things modern and digital chose to lay on their sword? Yep they booked full page ads in seven British, and three American newspapers. Likewise KFC, a brand aimed firmly at the Millennial market, who needed to say sorry for a chicken shortage that shut down stores across the UK in February, they went for pages in the Sun and Metro.

And it’s not just newspapers – try booking anything on TFL (London Underground) this Christmas – most formats are sold out, or anything on quality roadside inventory! This is becoming known as the Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri effect that seems to have driven a return of brands to out-of-home advertising. A simple, direct and powerful message, delivered in the same way.

So why are we seeing this return to traditional media? I believe there are three key reasons.

1 | Fake News and general crap

Social Media is invaluable at reaching a large audience and getting your message out. But it’s also the home of Fake News. As awareness of its dangers and pervasiveness grows, and the risks of sharing data come to the fore, social media is becoming a less trusted source of information. It may be fine for celebrity gossip, and it’s great for engagement – but when you need to say something important, traditional media holds way more sway. Also the amount of inconsequential and non related rubbish courtesy of publisher’s love affair with the native-market fill screes with semi-fraudulent servings of ads that only a moron would click on.

2 | Breaking out of the Bubble

It is all too easy on social media to end up only reaching those in your ‘bubble’ – the people who are already fans of your brand, who are like minded in sharing similar views. To burst that bubble and reach new people, you need to go outside social media. Look at deals like Amazon and GBB on C4 – That’s right AMAZON, repeat Amazon the world’s biggest holder of data. The one company that knows more about every single one of us, what we do, where we are and probably when we go to the toilet, is spending many millions on a branding campaign on TV where there’s precious little tracking or attribution of any kind?

3 | Attaching Value

Finally, for the truly old-tech, biology has your back. Behavioural science has shown that when we feel ownership of something, we value it more. think about your favourite radio station for example. In a world that is increasingly virtual, this rule still applies: an invitation in the post still feels so much more special. When we hold something in our hands, it is imbued with meaning.

I’m not suggesting for a second that the use and popularity of digital and especially social media will ever recede, it’s about finding the right role for each in the constellation of media within which we exist today.

No doubt some will endure in the ecosystem, and some will fall away – but today, the evidence suggests traditional media still has an important voice. Ultimately, from a media planning perspective the best medium to use as always simply depends who you are trying to reach, and what you want to say!

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