Traditional Media vs New Media – What You Need to Know!

For people working in the media there’s never been such a wealth of information to digest and make sense of…ever! The difference today, say from twenty years ago, is of course the internet and the emergence of new media, new channels and new methods of delivery. The impact of this new media has shaken the very foundations of traditional media outlets and businesses, from falling circulation in most printed publications to the need for real time, 24/7 news. Only this week The Evening Standard announced that it would move to a single print edition each day.

For many of us the first time we hear of any breaking news is through new media, whether it’s the BBC website, Twitter or an alert from an app on our phone, new media is part of our everyday lives. A recent study by Pew Research Centre found that 75% of people get their news via email or social media and 52% said they shared news via those same channels.

Traditional Media Still Makes Money

It would seem that traditional media, print, radio and TV, are being superseded by this new technology, but is that really the case? It’s easy to understand why traditional media is seen by many as coming to an end but that doesn’t take into account two very important factors. Firstly, traditional media advertising spend, particularly on TV, continues to grow, even breaking records in some areas. Take the recent Super Bowl for example, a thirty second advertising slot during the event cost $5m almost twice as much as 10 years ago, ($2.385m). The Super Bowl’s overall estimated share of 2017 US broadcast network TV spending was a record 2.3%, four times that of 1995.

New Media is Not the Enemy

The second factor that is often forgotten is that many of the established, traditional media entities have themselves woken up to the fact that this new media is something to be embraced and has benefits and positive implications for traditional media. We’ve already mentioned the fact that there are constantly reports of print media - local and national newspapers and well know magazine titles - seeing a fall in circulation, however some titles are using new media to increase their audience. Digital editions, apps and social media accounts are being used by prestigious titles like Vogue, The Times, National Geographic and Vanity Fair. The Daily Mail newspaper was one of the first newspapers to embrace new media by launching its website in 2003. The Mail Online website is now one of the most successful in the world with over 100 million unique visitors per month, 70% of which are from outside the UK.

It's examples like the Super Bowl and the Mail Online which illustrate the current media landscape and show the way in which traditional media is not being killed by new media, but is being given a new lease of life.

Diversification & Growth

One of the things that new media made clear from the beginning is that there are audiences in many different places. Traditional media often focused on a single demographic and gathered as much information about that target audience as possible in order to ensure maximum reach. Today social media, online communities and forums clearly show that a more diverse approach to expanding reach is needed in order to gain success. Traditional media outlets now deliver much more varied content to audiences through different channels and with different voice which fits those particular channels or platforms.

Revenue & Growth

Perhaps the biggest revelation that traditional media outlets are waking up to is that new media provides almost ready made access to a number of new revenue streams. Selling online is now the mainstream, it’s no longer the preserve of young, tech savvy urbanites. Through new media, businesses have access to audiences all over the world. Print media sales have definitely dropped in the last decade but the companies who have embraced digital have found ways to not only negate the impact of this trend but have seen revenue increase. Online subscriptions, merchandise, third party advertising, exclusive content and offers have all provided opportunities to not only generate much needed revenue but also increase reach and improve audience retention.

Mobile & Growth

The challenge for traditional media has always been to make sure you are visible at the right time and in the right place. It’s why newspapers have historically been delivered in the morning and it’s how a whole industry was built on billboard advertising. As new media emerged so too did a new challenge; the mobile audience. As more content was consumed on mobile devices the traditional picture of consumer behaviour changed into something completely different. Location and time of day no longer meant the same thing. The right audience could be anywhere in the world and looking for content at any time. Mobile apps, exclusive mobile-only content and mobile advertising have all been explored by traditional media companies in order to ensure continued growth.

It’s no longer Black and White

It’s clear there’s a more complex picture than many reports would suggest when it comes to traditional media vs new media. Traditional media faces many challenges but the outlets that are thriving are the ones that have embraced the digital challenge. It’s also true that new media still relies on traditional media to grow its user base. The fact is, media has changed. Technology has had such an impact on the way we consume media in the past decade that is easy to see why ‘traditional media is dead’ headlines crop up almost daily. However, as people continue to understand the new media better, it’s becoming clear that the two have a very bright future together.