Commentary

Media Cost Projections: Are We Measuring The Right Thing?

There is a lot of talk about a media recession. The major agencies are projecting media growth ranging from .3% to a few percentage points. Yet there are a lot of parts of the media business that are growing just fine.

Is it possible that those measuring the media are not measuring the right thing? After all, if all you look at is dying media, you are bound to come up with the result that things don't look so good.

This is true in many parts of the economy. The retailers say that they did not have a good Christmas. Yet when you include the $100 million or so gift cards-plus ecommerce, the retail Christmas was probably just fine.

Most of the media prognosticators are from the major agencies. Their perspective is inevitably one of looking at the media that have always been their mainstays: TV, radio, magazines, newspapers, outdoor. Web is starting to be included in the projections but for many, search is not included, as it is not measured by TNS or Nielsen. If we limit ourselves to the media that are "measured," we won't pick up the part of the economy that is vital and growing. And, just like retail, which does not measure the impact of gift cards, we'll understate the market, including most of the growth.

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Piper Jaffray's Aaron Kessler and Gene Munster were quoted in MediaPost last week noting that "the proven high ROI of online advertising today will make online advertising resilient even with a recession in the United States." That's if one even happens. The people who measure the recession probably only use old measures, too.

As an example, take a look at the eMarketer spending projections for 2008 in the hot growth areas:

 

Medium                                   2007                    2008          % Growth

eMail                                 $412MM             $518MM          25.7%

Local Online                       $2,900MM          $4,600MM       58.6%

Online                        &nbs p;      $21,400MM         $27,500MM     28.5% 

General Mobile                    $878MM             $1,547MM       76.2%

Multimedia Mobile               $26MM               $55MM            111.5%

Online Social Networks         $920MM             $1,560MM       69.6%

Online Video                       $775MM             $1,350MM       74.2%

Search Online*                                                                  23.5%

 

*Specific numbers not available but generally regarded as 40% of online.

 

*Specific numbers not available but generally regarded as 40% of online.

Clearly, there are areas of significant growth. Most of these are not being measured by the prognosticators. Nor are they being reported in the advertising trade articles or by the AAAAs in their projections.

I believe that it is time for the industry to change its basis for mapping out predictions of the future. It does us no good whatsoever to report doom and gloom. And, it does the industry no good not to take into account and report the best parts of what is happening in the media environment today.

As eMarketer seems to be the only company reporting on all of the new media, it seems to make sense for the AAAAs, trade magazines and the others to use and report on this third-party data. The old methods of having the buyers report out their projections is outdated. It's time to adopt a new model of using data from a third-party analyst.

As always, comments are welcome.

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