Interesting Reading, 11/13/08

Traditional Media Hit Harder Than In Past Recessions

It used to be that three mainstream media channels – newspapers, radio and magazines – reliably predicted the economy’s decline into a recession and its recovery. That all changed about three years ago. Newspapers and magazines fell while the economy was rising and show no sign of anticipating a recovery. The results, writes Erik Sass:

While softening ad revenue anticipated the two previous economic downturns by about a year, in the most recent case, the slowdown for magazines, newspapers and radio began about three years before. In addition, the declines have already proven to be steeper in this pre-recession period than at the height of the previous ones. This suggests that all three traditional media, suffering from both secular and macroeconomic trends, are poised to suffer unprecedented losses in the economic downturn that is now unfolding.

Magazine Ad Pages Drop, Holiday Season Looks Grim

OMG, these numbers are terrible. At least we’re all in this together. Quoting:

On Oct. 28, the Conference Board announced that its consumer confidence index had plummeted to an all-time low of about 38 out of 100, a drop of over one-third from its level of 61.4 in September. The expectations index–which evaluates consumer sentiment about the future–went even lower, dropping from 61.5 to 35.5. Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board’s research center, said the decline in the confidence index was “the lowest reading on record” since the index began tracking consumer attitudes in 1985

Macy’s said it will eliminate all magazine advertising in the first half of 2009, although its holiday marketing budget is still largely intact. Subsequently, The New York Times reported that Neiman’s specialty retail segment–including Neiman Marcus Stores and Bergdorf Goodman–saw sales tumble 27.6% in October, while Nordstrom is down 15.7%, and Target fell 4.8%.

Online Retailers Tightening Belts

Here’s one explanation for the story above. Quoting:

  • In a holiday survey, 30% of online retail marketers said they were trimming marketing budgets, while 16% said they were reducing promotional spending.
  • 45% of retailers said their budgets for free-shipping promotions were either significantly or somewhat higher compared to last year.
  • Forrester projects sales this holiday season will grow at the slowest rate ever, 12% vs. 21% a year ago.
  • 45% of online consumers plan to buy less overall this holiday due to uncertainty about the economy, up from 20% in 2007.
  • A full 21% of consumers plan to shop primarily or entirely online this season, up from 19% last year. And 24% of total dollars spent this season are expected to be spent online, compared with 22% last year.

Marketing Executives Networking Group Survey Finds Social Media Practices Still in Infancy Stages

A survey last month and found that 67% of respondents consider themselves beginners at using social media for marketing purposes. Additionally, more than 87% of respondents are not regularly measuring the ROI of their social media marketing efforts. “

Metrics expert Mark Ghuneim suggests that we still have a long way to go in evolving our thinking about viral video metrics beyond view counts. Marketers are beginning to think more holistically about how to measure success. Quoting:

According to a recent FEED Company study, some 70% of ad-agency and media-buying executives plan to increase budgets for viral video marketing in 2009. In addition, 72% of ad-agency executives and media buyers say their clients are “interested” or “very interested” in using viral video as an integral part of their marketing campaigns.

“Favoriting,” commenting, linking to, embedding, social network amplification and other action all constitute a level of user attention that must somehow be accounted for and given appropriate value.

In addition, a marketing executive would also want to know how users were discovering their video, as well as how quickly the view counts were growing. The velocity of consumption and adoption is an important indicator as well as factors beyond the standard impression and stream data. For example, are bloggers talking about the video? Are users micro-blogging about the video?

BusinessWeek is all breathless about the energy that social networks brought to election day, and there are some good stories/examples here. However, also listen to NPR’s story on turnout levels for a more sobering view. Turnout was good for the US, but we still lag far behind other democracies.

Top Five Ways to Piss off a Blogger

Google Aims To Predict Flu Outbreaks

Privacy advocates may blanch, but I think this is a totally cool way to mine patterns from search behavior that contributes to the common good. What an innovative idea!

With an average member earning about $110,000 a year and more than $100 million in investment capital in the bank, you’d think LinkedIn would be sitting pretty. Yet the company is laying off about 36 people. Smart move. Don’t let VC love make you fat and happy.

Om Malik has little nice to say about Jerry Yang’s stewardship of Yahoo. Yang now basically admits he should have sold to Microsoft when he had the chance and the collapse of a partnership with Google is particularly painful. With the economy now in the tank, what’s next?

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