Death of Mainstream Media? Not Just Yet

March 19, 2007 Blog 5 comments

Singapore’s ad expenditure in 2006. Source: Nielsen Media Research

Recent newspaper reports indicated that ad expenditure in Singapore has risen by about 4% to $1.94 billion last year. This reversed an 8.3% decline the previous year before. Entertainment outlets and services were the biggest mainstream media spenders at $202.5 million. This was followed by the retail industry with $136.5 million, followed by government and social organisations at $92.4 million.

What’s surprising was that most categories have shown an improvement, with television pipping newspapers yet again as the number one choice for advertisers, while magazines showed the greatest percentage increase. On the other hand, radio advertising seemed to have fallen significantly. I suspect that this may be due to the migration of listeners away from terrestrial radio stations towards podcasts and MP3.
I noticed with chagrin that online media buys weren’t anywhere in the reckoning. Surely the almighty Google, which is generating a kingly sum every month from adsense revenue, should be inside? How about Yahoo!, MSN, Asiaone and other portal kingpins? Shouldn’t our A-list bloggers be seen as “media spaces” too? I hope that they are not excluded because the numbers are too small to be of any significance!

I guess web channels still aren’t seen as mainstream marketing arsenal in this 2.0 oriented day and age. When I speak to my peers, most are still more comfortable with the usual advertising lingo like GRPs, TARPs, Viewership, Circulation, Readership and so on.

Ask them about page views and unique visitors? Some will start to scratch their heads. Number of links? Click throughs? Even more so. If I start to talk about RSS feeds, number of Diggs, technorati rankings, or tags, most will probably think that I am some alien life form.

Certainly, the above results show that mainstream media is still the kingpin. Most marketers prefer to fall back on the tried and tested – at least for now. With such a highly web savvy population extensively participating in citizen media, I am sure there is a lot more that we can do online.

I believe the trick in this transition period is to marry both traditional and new media to yield the best results. New media can be used largely for experimentation and trial while mainstream media provides the foundation to build on. That way, we can hopefully have the best of both worlds. In future though, the balance may change. But for now at least, mainstream media is still here to stay.

By Walter
Founder of Cooler Insights, I am a geek marketer with almost 24 years of senior management experience in marketing, public relations and strategic planning. Since becoming an entrepreneur 5 years ago, my team and I have helped 58 companies and over 2,200 trainees in digital marketing, focusing on content, social media and brand storytelling.


  1. nice info there brudder..especially when it comes to marketing an comms..will use this as a rough guage to handle future advertising projects…keke.

  2. Online advertising is harder to track, since there are so many spaces to consider. I have seen the Nokia ad campaign with our local bloggers, and it’d be interesting to see how much online ad investments has increased compared to traditional forms of advertising.

  3. kevin, yes agree with that. They probably should do some survey or other and estimate online spending from there. I am sure google must be getting its power from somewhere! Incidentally, I still wonder how companies like youtube and technorati will ever make money, but that will be another post….

  4. Heya Walter

    The stats are interesting, but I’m surprised you’re surprised =p

    Something else to consider… a lot of money is moving from “Adspend” (which Neilsen is measuring) to what used to be called “below the line”, particularly for online expenditure. Money may be going into updating websites, creating blogs (your biz), seeding in YouTube, SEO etc and that is not being measured here.

    We all know that some forms of internet advertising are reasonably useless (for example the Google ad at the top of your blog), while others are very effective (for example search engine keywords).

    No doubt we’ll see continual growth in the use of online for marketing, but it could be that it’s not in the form of the type of spend that Neilsen is measuring. Or perhaps it will be 😉

    =) Marc

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