Can You Survive the Evolution?
November 2016

Let’s talk about evolution for a minute. No, not Darwin’s theory of biological evolution, but the evolution of media. I won’t take us back to the beginning of media adoption, as it’s only necessary to go back about six or seven years to see dramatic shifts in the evolution of the media landscape.

Since 2010, U.S. consumers have increased their overall time with media from 10 hours, 43 minutes to 12 hours, 5 minutes—a 13% increase in just 7 years. While a growth in media usage does not seem all that surprising, it may surprise you to know that mobile has accounted for almost all of the increase (up 272% since 2010). You can also see in the chart below that, as digital and mobile grew substantially, other forms of media saw decreases in time spent. 

What does all of this mean to you and your business? Do you pull out of all print media? Do you move your entire budget into mobile? Or do you take a tradigital approach to your strategy?

Tradigital? It’s the combination of traditional and digital concepts or, in this case, digital media. Similar to biological evolution, media evolution is based on inherited variations that increase the ability to compete and survive in the market. Tradigital is another way of talking about a multi-channel or omni-channel strategy, and we see successful organizations maintaining this idea as they move into the future. 

According to eMarketer’s quarterly ad spending forecast, digital spending will surpass TV spending in 2017, with digital ad spending totaling $77.37 billion, or 38.4% of total ad spending. Meanwhile, TV ad spending is projected to total $72.01 billion, or 35.8% of total media ad spending in the U.S. 

Consumers have shifted online and, in particular, to mobile devices for everything from research and peer recommendations to socializing and seeking entertainment.

This shift requires a thoughtful marketing strategy that considers where your consumers may be spending time (online and offline) and how they are spending that time so as not to be a disrupter but a participant in their online journey. 

While media has evolved to a more dominant online presence, it doesn’t mean you should cut all other forms of media and shift solely to a digital media plan. As it has always been the case, you have to think specifically about your target audience and where they spend their time. Different demographic profiles utilize media in different ways, meaning that while print may be down in usage overall, its consumption among certain audiences may actually be holding steady and should be considered a viable option. Another example would be just because you have always used terrestrial radio doesn’t mean you shouldn’t evaluate your audience’s new usage habits to learn if they are now using streaming radio services such as Pandora or iHeartRadio more than traditional spot radio.

As media evolves, it is important that your strategies and plans evolve with it—or at least consider how new channels may impact those plans in today’s world. This is not only important during annual planning sessions, but ongoing, as new channels emerge and need to be evaluated.

If the forecast by PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2016-2020 Report is correct, U.S. Internet advertising revenue is expected to increase from $59.6 billion in 2015 to $93.5 billion by 2020, and that means significant growth in digital, as well as other media forms we haven’t even realized today.

As marketers we can either evolve along with consumer behavior and continue to grow our businesses, or we can expect to die a slow death if we either ignore or fight against the inevitable evolution process. 

About Littlefield
Founded in 1980, our Top 25 North American B-to-B agency specializes in companies who sell through a strong dealer/distributor network.