Digital and TV Win In A Shaky Economy

If we are headed for a double dip recession, it looks like TV and the Internet represent safe zones for media spending. As for the rest of the media business, hang on tight.

That’s the conclusion from the Magna Global’s updated media forecast, a closely watched bellwether for industry health. The Interpublic Group has revised its outlook for media spending next year, and not in a good way; due to the shaky economy Magna now says media spending overall should climb by 2.9 percent next year, rather than the fairly robust 4.8 percent rate the company had previously forecast.
Yet within that less than stellar growth rate lies some signs of health, particularly on the Web. Online advertising should swell by 11.6 percent, says Magna. Perhaps surprisingly, the next highest growth rate is 7.1 percent, for the decidedly old medium of TV.
Digital’s hefty growth rate is hardly shocking; advertisers continue to shift dollars online, as consumers spend more and more of their time with the medium. Magna attributes TV’s growth potential to timing, as the Summer Olympics and 2012 presidential election should bring with them an influx of dollars.
Yet local media — which typically receives a major injection of ad dollars during election year, is expected to take in on the chin, says Magna.  Local mass media spending is expected to decline in both 2011 (down 1.1 percent) and in 2012 (down .4 percent), with newspapers suffering (down 5.5 percent), and radio slipping slightly (down 0.4 percent). So there’s got to be more than the story.
For one, Magna’s predictions say a lot about where TV is in the mindset of the modern marketer. That is, it’s in a pretty prominent place, despite all of its shortcomings. The belief in the 30-second spot as an emotional branding vehicle, as well as the belief in TV as a reach vehicle, endure.
As for the Web, besides its momentum from a consumption perspective, it’s got that trackablity thing going for it. In lean times, clients tend to cling to any investment where ROI can be proven out with confidence.
Plus, both TV and the Web are easy to buy at the last minute, and fairly easy to cancel. That’s not always true with print. And as advertisers likely enter a 2012 with shaky budgets and not a ton of foresight, one thing they’ll want from their media budgets is options.
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