The Media’s Post-Advertising Future Is Also Its Past

from The Atlantic

It’s my holiday tradition to bring tidings of discomfort and sorrow to my colleagues in the news business. One year ago, I described the media apocalypse coming for both digital upstarts and legacy brands. Vice and BuzzFeed had slashed their revenue projections by hundreds of millions of dollars, while TheNew York Times had announced a steep decline in advertising.

Twelve months later, it’s end times all over again. There have been layoffs across Vox Media, Vice, and BuzzFeed (and dubious talk of an emergency merger). Mic, once valued at $100 million, fired most of its staff and sold for $5 million. Verizon took a nearly $5 billion write-down on its digital media unit, which includes AOL and Yahoo. Reuters announced plans to lay off more than 3,000 people in the next two years. The disease seems widespread, affecting venture-capital darlings and legacy brands, flattening local newswhile punishing international wires. Almost no one is safe, and almost everyone is for sale.

It’s tempting to think that this is the inevitable end game of Google and Facebook’s duopoly. The two companies already receive more than half of all the dollars spent on digital advertising, and they commanded 90 percent of the growth in digital ad sales last year. But what’s happening in media right now is more complex. We’re seeing the convergence of four trends.

More here.


5 Responses to The Media’s Post-Advertising Future Is Also Its Past

  1. Rachel Leto February 1, 2019 at 6:54 pm #

    Even though social media took off in the recent years, advertising on them relatively new. People do not want to see advertisements on a digital platform that they use every day. People, also, do not want to pay to see ads on those specific digital platforms. Subscriptions are required for the patron to support the website for all of their ads because they are not making enough money off them. My grandma gets the news on her iPad and she gets annoyed when she has to pay $12 for a newspaper online that costs $1.50 for a paper copy. Ads have made subscriptions almost not worth it all to enjoy simple things, like a newspaper, online.
    So many other big companies are trying to get ads on every type of social platform because of the competition from everyone else and cover all the bases. I would be scrolling through Instagram and see more ads on it than people’s posts. There is no limit to how many ads you see on social media platforms, which for the user is not ideal. Before moving onto digital platforms, newspapers needed ads when patrons did not support them. Now, platforms are relying too much on the patrons, which is very unstable because of how often they change their mind. Most platforms like Snapchat are free and do not require a subscription, so to see mass amounts of ads on a free app is understandable.
    Personally, I feel that if a platform is making you pay a certain amount per month to be on it, there should be minimal ads as possible. This will create a bigger following because users will feel less attacked by advertisements and seem more user friendly. There should be more of a restraint on ads if a platform offers a premium subscription as well because people pay to not see the ads. On the other hand, if a platform is free, there can be ads because they do not have patrons to support it. Platforms will see a bigger difference in their following of they take suggestions that the users are telling them.

  2. Nicholas Meyerback February 6, 2019 at 7:12 pm #

    Most people are aware of the “Media Armageddon” that has become apparent in the twenty-first century. Almost every major newspaper, both established firms that have existed for decades and younger periodicals, has been forced to downsize in a way. Thousands of journalists have been laid-off and then eventually let go. The issues with traditional media run deep. Yes, people prefer to get their news online. Yes, sales of physical day-to-day newspapers has declined. But it is not just one plague inflicting these corporations, it is more of a complex beast of threats.

    One of the main culprits deals with the level of competition in the media industry. Almost anyone who acquires the necessary capital can transform an online blog or academic journal into an internet exclusive medium that harbors millions of clicks a day. It is a simple supply and demand issue. There are too many contestants and not enough contest. What are they contesting for? The name of the game is advertising dollars. Previously, the papers would generate revenue from selling advertisement slots in their weekly papers. Larger companies would establish contracts with national corporations and local papers would cater to local businesses. This was the principal source of income for decades. A problem arose when everyone started to use this business model. The internet fostered a culture where websites generally provided free services with ads to cover costs. Almost any website that comes to mind follows this design. Sources for advertising does not end there; don’t forget about applications available in the App Store. Like webservices, the majority of Apps are free and have adds. This ranges from gaming apps to utility apps to social media platforms. With an overabundance of places to advertise companies have to sweeten the deal for advertisers and concede losses, resulting in firings.

    Complex problems require comprehensive solutions. News giants are getting creative. To combat the dilemma they are seeking alternative sources of income. Selling subscriptions directly to consumers for online access is one option. Subscription viewership has been fairly successful but the method entails slow growth. Others have turned to patronage. Surprisingly enough, individual donors are relatively consistent and there are plenty of tycoons with interest in media. Regardless of profit approach, the future of news is uncertain.

  3. Trovonta Burgess February 8, 2019 at 1:00 pm #

    In recent years, the advertising game has changed immensely from company to company and has evolved to become more innovative. Ads and advertisements are not seen any and everywhere from smaller scale photo print to large scale digital methods. Unlike the 19th century, companies have now discovered the benefits of launching advertisement campaigns where content is simplified and reaches its targeted audience. As expected in the earlier days of society many relied on the delivery of paper print sources to receive news and hear about the latest scoops in the world. However, in today’s society, we primarily rely on the internet or apps to retrieve the latest hot topics within the news. With the enhancement of using digital platforms to advertise, it cuts the need of employment at some companies like as mentioned in the article the Verizon plans to lay off approximately 3,000 people in the next two years. Just like everything else switching from person to computer, there has been a surprising influx in digital ad sales by larger companies who have implemented this technique of advertising.

    In this new era businesses now prefer to use websites, digital media units, and social media as a way to promote ads and first-hand offering on what influences and appears to their target audience. Google and Facebook’s duopoly are two companies that have dominated the advertisement game and commanded 90% in growth. These top two competitors have also gained lots of competition within the advertisement business amongst other big tech companies. Take Youtube which now operates as one of Google’s subsidiaries for example where they have become known for running ads for a company and it’s quick and easy for the business. For they pay YouTube to distribute their content throughout their site.

    Like most other things, once something changes and becomes cool everyone wants to join in on the action. So, the number of companies that developed plans to start advertising like this, the number increased and after a while, there were too many in the business doing the same thing. In addition, adding that there are no set boundaries or steps in place for a company to follow. Thus, making it difficult to follow a set pattern and cause instability within the whole operation its self.

  4. Cameron Kharazmi February 28, 2019 at 9:19 pm #

    My father’s career as a publisher of an advertising newspaper/magazine for the large Persian community of Los Angeles, I have firsthand witnessed the change in the advertising industry that has resulted from the widespread use of the internet and the loss of capital for businesses who do not live primarily off of eCommerce. Seeing his businesses’ slow decline over the years has been a tough, but normal expectation of technological and structural change in the economy. As such, learning that bigger companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google are dominating the advertising industry and forcing layoffs and money cuts in other media companies is not surprising. Print media grows further and further into irrelevance as the general population enjoys receiving their news from a variety of news sources on the internet, and their advertising platform decreases even more. My father has already begun his campaign to direct his consumers towards utilizing his company website for such a “yellow pages” services, with the hope being that he can still perform well on the internet, despite his great success in the print market. Of course, his business will never be as successful as it was in the past, and he will continue to see decreases as larger media companies continue to dominate the advertising market, forcing local businesses to advertise on their platforms. He will adjust his business model or primary occupation at some point in the near future, but I do believe there is some good to the change in the relationship between the media and advertising. I found lots of good in the fact that a company like the New York Times is shifting towards user subscription as a primary form of revenue, rather than rely on selling advertisements to big companies. This lessens the bias that large corporations or large businessmen have in influencing what content those media companies decide to release and offers more journalistic freedom. Such freedom could expose to the public many of the shady business practices that those large companies who advertise for the media engage in and do a better job of informing the general public of real issues around them. As such, these more engaging and “spicier” stories will also draw in more subscribers who are interested in this kind of content and in effect will give the media companies more revenue, and keep them afloat.

  5. Trinity Holland November 7, 2019 at 9:38 pm #

    As a Marketing and Advertising major, I find this articled to be both interesting and relevant topic. The dramatic increase of technological advancements has and continues to change our society and how we function. It’s scary to know just how much the digital transformation has affected the workplace though. “ There have been layoffs across Vox Media, Vice, and BuzzFeed (and dubious talk of an emergency merger). Mic, once valued at $100 million, fired most of its staff and sold for $5 million. Verizon took a nearly $5 billion write-down on its digital media unit, which includes AOL and Yahoo. Reuters announced plans to lay off more than 3,000 people in the next two years.” Though technology and artificial intelligence have the capability to do a lot more than a human may be able to, there are still a lot of aspects in which a machine cannot always replace a human. Specifically, marketing and advertising will always require a human behind it. Though technology may be able to generate the advertisements themselves, marketing and advertising in today’s society involves emotion and being able to tell a story in order to sell a product or service. Machines can read and use statistics, but a human is needed to curate these ideas in order to touch upon the emotions of a consumer, and ultimately get them to do something. Many people studying in my field may find this to be alarming, but I am more than confident that marketing and advertising will always be a necessary field, especially in terms of digital and social media advertising.

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