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Are Newspapers and TV Dying?


Where do you get your news? If you're like me, it's a combination of web and cable with a few magazines sprinkled in along with the Sunday New York Times… in that order.

Apparently, I'm becoming a statistic. According to the latest data from Pew Internet Project, some 50 million Americans turn to the internet for news on a typical day. That, incidentally, is a new high for online news-gathering that coincides with rapid growth of broadband adoption in American homes.

Pew says that for broadband internet users, online news is a more regular part of the daily news diet than is the local paper. It is also nearly as much of a daily habit as is getting news from national TV newscasts and radio. Not surprisingly, for home dial-up users, online news is not as much an everyday activity.

Just in case you're keeping track, over the last four years, overall internet penetration rose from 58 percent of all adult Americans to 70 percent, and home broadband penetration grew from 20 million people (or 10 percent of adult Americans) to 74 million people (37 percent of adult Americans).

Speaking of news media, a new study by the Project for Excellence in Journalism says that 2005 may go down in history as "the year when journalism in print began to die."

The report bases that ominous ruling on events such as newsroom staff cuts, scandals, downward spiraling stock prices, declining circulation, and frustrated investors putting Knight Ridder up for sale.

Actually, it's not so much a death of newspapers, which happen to be the internet's primary suppliers, but rather a "seismic transformation in what and how people learn about the world around them."

The report says that the circulation declines and job cuts will probably tally at only about three percent for the year. The industry still posted profit margins of 20 percent. Measuring print and online together, the readership of many newspapers is higher than ever. (You can read the entire, quite voluminous report, online.) Also interesting are the 250 charts on newspaper, magazine, television (network, cable, local), radio, and online. Just keep in mind that some of the data is two to three years old.

Staying in the galaxy of traditional media for another moment, it seems apropos to mention that a survey released on Wednesday at the annual Association of National Advertisers concluded that TV advertising is becoming less and less effective. According to the ANA, 78 percent of respondents to the study think TV advertising is less effective than it was two years ago, mainly due to the proliferation of digital video recorders that allow users to skip commercials. (DVRs are approaching the tipping point of 30 million homes.)

As a result, TV ad spend is expected to drop five to10 percent beginning in the 2007 season, as advertisers explored other venues. 61 percent of respondents are reportedly interested in branded entertainment within shows; 55 percent are looking at TV program sponsorships; 45 percent are looking at online video ads and 44 percent at product placement.

As for online video, a new eMarketer report says that more than 100 million people worldwide will be turning to paid or sponsored mobile broadcast video very soon. The report, "Mobile TV for Marketers: Monetizing the Smallest Screen," estimates that by next year, an estimated 13.9 million subscribers will watch broadcast TV on their phones, while 114.2 million watch video on their phones.

Online radio usage is up as well. comScore says that traffic to the Radio category increased 27 percent over the past year to 33.5 million unique visitors in February 2005.

All that said, the IAB timed that release of Video Measurement Guidelines quite perfectly. The IAB is calling for public comment and will unveil the final draft at the IAB Leadership Forum: Broadband and Beyond on May 15 in New York.

Finally, the rumor I mentioned last week turned into reality, as DoubleClick this week acquired Falk eSolutions.

"Falk is a natural fit with DoubleClick because of its commitment to product innovation, reliability and local customer service. Combined with DoubleClick's seasoned industry experience, scalability and global presence, together we will be able to offer clients a feature-rich solution which can enable them to increase ROI on their digital advertising investments," says David Rosenblatt, CEO of DoubleClick.

Terms of the deal were not announced.

iMedia Connection Editor at Large Masha Geller is the founder of interactive marketing and corporate communications consultancy Geller Public Relations in New York. She has been covering the interactive advertising industry since 1999 as the former editor in chief of MediaPost.com, and is a widely-published thought leader in the interactive arena.

Labels are misleading, and sometimes just plain lies

When was the last time you purchased a new food product and didn't look at the nutrition facts? From packed foods at the grocery store to items on a fast food menu, we often take comfort in reading about what's in our food. But you can't judge a book by its cover: For every four products that contains nutrition labels, one will be inaccurate. This is because the FDA allows for numbers that are up to 20 percent off the real calorie count of the product.  

You see, it's all about perception. The serving size notation on labels is notorious for fooling people: When you read that an item has 11 grams of sugar, make sure you check to see how many servings are in one package. Chances are you'll be taking in more than just those 11 grams if you eat the entire thing.

Another way that your food's packing misleads you? Beware of items that are marketed as "natural." That's a vague term, and with good reason: There are no FDA regulations as to what constitutes a "natural" food item. The parameters they do give require that these products not contain things like "artificial flavors," but again, this is a very loosely-defined phrase. Sometimes items with ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup are even allowed to be marketed as "natural."

Fast food advertising is primarily aimed at the minority and youth populations

In a study sponsored by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, many discoveries were made about the ways in which advertisers target their fast food marketing. They focus on children and teens, especially those in primarily Hispanic and black communities -- who are already at a greater risk for obesity.

The technology that we use also comes into play: Smartphone apps and social media have created an interactive, in-your-face marketing experience for those tech-savvy teenagers who would prefer to spend their allowance on burgers and fries while on-the-go. And while there are some restrictions on marketing towards young children via commercials, the fact remains that kids and preteens alike are now handy with smartphones and tablets, and can easily access the same ads that you or I can.

You're not usually getting what you paid for

Not only are we lied to about what's in our food, but the fast food industry has been known to greatly exaggerate the size and content of its products. One blogger did a side-by-side comparison, and the results were underwhelming, to say the least. So while fast food is thought of as getting more bang for your buck, chances are you're not really saving in the end by avoiding dine-in restaurants -- and you're certainly not getting a better deal than you would preparing food at home.

While much of this marketing is aimed at children, it can affect them for life

You know what they say -- teach 'em young. The bad habits that kids learn when they're growing up can follow them into adulthood, and become much harder to shake the more years that go by. This absolutely applies to poor eating. In a study from Prevention Institute, it was discovered that even five years after exposure to fast food advertising, children were less likely to purchase healthy fruits and vegetables, and more likely to head for the junk food and soda.

What's worse is that as these children grow into adults, our nation's health as a whole will continue to decline. If we continue on this path, by 2050, one out of every three adults in the U.S. will have diabetes. And even sooner than that, our healthcare will be affected: In 15 years, the cost of your healthcare that can be attributed to unhealthy eating and lack of exercise may range $860 billion to $956 billion, and account for one of every six total dollars spent on healthcare.

It's not just in commercials, either -- junk food marketing is everywhere

Even if you stay away from most digital advertising (good luck with that), advertising is all around us. For instance, you might be able to regulate what your kids see at home, but there are promotional signs all over their schools. Here are just a few examples of marketing messages they might see:

  • The labels on vending machines

  • Donated classroom materials (math/reading worksheets, book covers)

  • Company-sponsored programs like "Bucks for Books," "Box Tops for Education," and "Labels for Education"

  • Food fundraisers featuring cookie dough, pizza, etc.

  • Signs at sponsored events, athletic activities, etc.

  • T-shirts and athletic uniforms featuring company logos

There are some regulations in place, but they have a number of loopholes

Presently, industry practices are not where they should be, writes Healthy Eating Research, a national program from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. For instance, current restrictions are for programs and products aimed at kids age 11 and younger, but a better goal would be to change this rule so that they're applicable for children under the age of 15.

And these guidelines only apply to the marketing of individual products, such as a specific snack item. This allow for a number of brands to use other means of advertising -- including toy giveaways, social media, and marketing within schools -- to market to young children. Creating regulations that address these loopholes would prevent this from happening.

Becca Bleznak is an associate editor at iMedia Connection.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

"Cute little Latin girl eating a hamburger and looking up towards copy space" image via Shutterstock.

Masha Geller is Executive Director of Marketing at Verve Mobile, the established leader of the location-powered mobile advertising and publishing technology solutions marketplace and the trusted partner of hundreds of leading brands and media...

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