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Is Mainstream advertising Media is losing its Steam?

Some of us are still coming to terms with the phenomenon, while some of us saw it coming a mile away, but the fact that the mainstream is losing its steam when it comes to advertising is now more evident than ever. Although TV is still king, mediums like radio and outdoor marketing are rapidly falling behind digital mediums like the internet. And given the rate at which it is spreading throughout the world, digital media is all set to take over even TV – and very soon.

The following are only some of the many pointers that substantiate this claim:

  1. We spend far more time in front of personal screens than TV/radio/billboards:

A study conducted by Zenith published in Business Insider (available here) illustrates the fast-closing gap between TV and the internet very clearly. According to the study, the average person spent about 170 minutes in front of the TV per day in 2016, and around 140 minutes on the internet. The study also predicted that by 2018, the gap between the two would be as narrow as 7 minutes, and soon after, the TV will lose its title as the king. The reason for this is illustrated by the next pointer.

  1. Mainstream media is general, but digital is not:

Due to the fact that mainstream mediums such as the TV, radio or outdoor advertising are aimed at the general public as a whole, the content featured on these mediums must also be presented in a generalised way. This means that advertising on these mediums tries to speak to everyone watching it at the same time, and this obviously has its limitations, since not every advert, service or product is meant for every single person viewing it. However, with digital mediums such as the internet, one has the added luxury of carefully picking their target audience. This works wonders in terms of effective advertising, as it ensures that people only see adverts that are relevant to them, thus making them a lot more likely to opt for the service/product advertised.

  1. The viewer also has more control:

This is another area where mainstream media is losing the battle. Since the internet has become more commonplace, people don’t have to wait for the show they want to watch based on the TV schedule. Instead, as is being observed the world over, people would rather opt for a service like Netflix or Prime Video, which allows them instant access to the shows of their choice without any schedules or timetables. This level of control over their viewing choices is inevitably making more and more people switch to the digital from the mainstream.

  1. Advertising is now a 2-way street:

As far as the mainstream is concerned, the general approach has been three pronged: to bombard the public with a set of adverts; to then study which of them got the most returns; to finally shape future adverts based on the performance of the previous ones. This is a long drawn, arduous, and frankly, quite a wasteful process, when compared to what digital mediums can do. With digital, in addition to the wealth of options available to narrow down and select one’s target audience, one can also study how well a certain advert is doing in real time. Performance reports are available immediately after the advert goes live, and audience behaviour can be gauged while the campaign is running. The biggest advantage of this is that one is immediately able to identify what isn’t working, and instantly change it according to what is working.

And to think, these are only some of the signs of what the future hold: out with the old, and in with the new. What this probably means is “mainstream” per se, is all set to be redefined. Very soon “mainstream” won’t refer to TV and radio, but to alternative, digital, internet-based forms of advertising, and it is more crucial now than ever before to move with the times.

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