Road Signs: January 2010

Not unprecedented but unusual for by-the-numbers Consumer Reports, a subjective evaluation of car brands by adults in 1,750 households with at least one car who participated in a telephone survey ranked Toyota first, but Chevrolet and Ford made significant gains. Ford moved into second place and Chevy into fourth after responses in seven categories were tabulated. Domestics also dominated J.D. Powers’ annual customer satisfaction survey.

Good news – sort of – for auto journalists: automotive advertising by manufacturers will rise 14% in 2010 and from all sources 11% to $19.2 billion total according to a Borrell Associates prediction reported by the Center For Media Research. However, Steve Smith writes in that a survey of senior executives indicates money supporting print outlets will decrease and dollars for interactive media will go up. For example, a new Cadillac ad campaign described by Gavin O’Malley in Online Media Daily includes, “a pushdown format, interactive wallpaper, and a custom 3D cube, along with a variety of other interactive features like videos, photo galleries, “360 tours,” and real-time color selection for users.”

And, the squeeze on print dollars very probably explains why Media General, Inc. plans to consolidate the copy-editing and design functions of its newspapers in Winston-Salem, N.C., Richmond, Va. and Tampa, Fla. . . . Which makes 6 Tips for Recovering Journalists a timely offering (with elaborations) by Mary Ann Hogan in Poynter Online: 1) Learn Math, 2) Never Worry About Your Advanced Age, 3) Learn Multi Media, 4) Have a web site and a cool Facebook page, 5) Don’t spend too much time with journalists still in newsrooms and 6) Spend most of your time with creative, innovative types.

Something like a dead end sign, a recent MIT Sloan School of Management study concludes that the more precise audience targeting becomes the less profitable the targeting. That’s because, according to The Center for Media Research, the technology for reaching a specific audience also enables more competition for that audience and thus splinters the profit in doing so.