Road Signs-February 2009

A Research Brief from MediaPost reports, “according to Deloitte’s State of the Media Democracy survey, three-quarters of Millennials (ages 14 to 25) view the computer as more of an entertainment device than their television. Ed Moran, Deloitte director of product innovation, notes that “This (early-adopter) generation of consumers was the first to be raised on the Internet and is united across borders and cultures by their digital media preferences, so the implications for global marketers are unprecedented.”

More specific to car buyers is a study of young car buyers released by AutoPacific and www.vehiclevoice.com.  In keeping with their entry-level status in the work force,  members of Generation Y, not surprisingly, were found to favor less expensive cars but aspire to larger, more sophisticated and expensive vehicles. . . . Another Research Brief posted January 22nd predicts online and interactive video will be hot in 2009 with 400 senior-level decision makers surveyed by Permission TV saying online video is their top priority for their digital marketing budgets.

Digital editions of newspapers are gaining readers but they will have to increase page views dramatically (in the case of the New York Times, six-fold) to match print revenues which are declining due in no little part to the switch to online used car sales. Toyota, for one, is showcasing dealer inventories of its Certified Previously-Owned Vehicles on EBay. In December, the company’s retail sales operation manager Norm Olson was quoted: “Most of our advertising and marketing is on the Internet; we have been almost completely out of print for quite a while–we found that for our product, interactive is really the way to go.”

Which raises the question of who is going to pay for the quality journalism that attracts eyeballs? For those who missed his Time Magazine cover story and speech excerpt on The Huffington Post, or interviews on the Daily Show and Colbert Report, Walter Isaacson has anTime Magazine Cover: How to Save your Newspaper answer. The president of The Aspen Institute, former Time Magazine managing editor and author has revived the micro-payment solution. Taking into account the long-tail economics of the Internet, he was quoted Feb 5 in The Huffington Post, “Newspapers who felt their daily output was worth a dime – – and who readers felt the same way –could end up charging a dime and thus be more likely to survive and thrive. The people at these papers would also wake up each morning with the worthy incentive to produce a paper that people thought was worth at least a dime.”

A slightly different approach is offered by Mitch Ratcliffe in his lengthy January 19 blog on “The Economics of Great Journalism. He calculates that it would cost $180,000 in salary, expenses, overhead, equipment and all for a really good reporter covering a major topic. He sees people interested in that topic making micro-payments to cover that cost. The idea of journalists getting paid by their readers instead of advertisers or media moguls is technically feasible and philosophically appealing but it is hard to sell when what is available now is free. Worse, as G.B. Shaw observed, “if people don’t get what they want, they soon want what they get.” And their goes the notion of quality reporting.

Contrary to a published report that major automotive magazine publisher Source Interlink has dropped its wholesale distribution business that includes more than 75 magazines, company chairman and CEO Greg Mays said in a letter to its retail customers that the rumor is part of an attempt “to eliminate competition in the magazine distribution chain.” He added Source Interlink is, “going to fight to keep and grow our current magazine distribution business.” Click this link to read the letter in full: http://www.foliomag.com/2009/source-interlink-ceo-unprecedented-and-unprovoked-assault-us 

And, speaking of magazines, Wooden Horse reports that the National Directory of Magazines found there are “16,596 magazines, tabloids, specialized newspapers, and major journals that carry advertising.” Of these 492 are classed as “Automotive.”  And, from another source, “that for every magazine pronounced dead in 2008, four were born.” That includes one-shots.

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