MediaFile

Ad spending down 14 percent – but it’s not getting worse!

Over the last few days executives at Goldman Sachs’ Communicopia have talked about a stabilizing — or even improving — advertising market.

It’s not the only time they’ve talked about stabilization. It was the watchword of investors calls as far back as last spring. And it appears they were right. New figures out from TNS Media Intelligence show the advertising market wasn’t any worse in the second quarter than it was in the first.

That’s cold comfort considering the data show that advertising spending in the second quarter sank 13.9 percent from a year ago. For the first six months of 2009, spending is down some 14.3 percent from a year ago, or more than $10 billion in lost TV spots, print ads and radio jingles.

Here’s how TNS research guru Jon Swallen described it in a prepared statement:

While it’s tempting to interpret this as a positive indicator that things aren’t getting worse, the fact remains that the market has been steadily tracking at around 14 percent declines for several consecutive months and this represents billions of lost revenue. Early data from third quarter hint at possible improvements for some media due to easy comparisons against distressed levels of year ago expenditures.

The fall TV season, beyond Jay Leno

What’s that? Jay Leno is moving to prime-time? You don’t say!

Frankly, it’s hard to remember the last time there was such hubbub about a TV show. It was, after all, the cover story in Time magazine. Not to be outdone, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP, and probably every local news outlet between New York and Hollywood had a story about the talk show host — more often than not raising the question of whether he’s going to save network TV.

(You’ve got to give it to the public-relations machine on this one. They really worked the story. Of course, their spinning was augmented by a huge marketing effort. Stuart Elliott of the New York Times today estimated that NBC put out more than $10 million in promoting the show).

But there is more to the fall TV season than Jay Leno. The media buyers and planners over at  RPA offer a useful road map to the season in a recent report.

Wednesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s stories about the media industry:

Recession sends Americans to the Internet (Reuters)
S. John Tilak writes: “More than two-thirds of American adults — or 88 percent of U.S. Internet users — went online for help with recession-induced personal economic issues and to gather information on national economic problems, a study released on Wednesday said.”

BBC and Government Fall Out Over Financing Plan (NYT)
“The BBC and Britain’s Labour government, which has a history of support for the “Beeb,” have fallen out over a government plan to share some of the broadcaster’s £3.6 billion in public funding with its commercial television rivals,” writes Eric Pfanner.
Weisberg: Big news orgs have a stake in web-only papers not working (Economist.com|Romenesko) “Web advertising may well end up supporting big newsrooms if they can escape some of their legacy costs,” says Slate’s Jacob Weisberg. “The test I’d most like to see is of a well-financed, for-profit, web-only ‘newspaper’ with no printed version. The problem is that the leading news organizations have a stake in web-only newspapers not working because they will accelerate the decline of the large, if faltering businesses that revolve around print.”

USA Today introduces Newsdeck site for top headlines (Editors Weblogs)
“To give visitors another way to view the news, USA Today has introduced a site it calls Newsdeck that compiles the top headlines in an easy-to-read format. Users can scroll through stories in eight categories, including News, Money and Sports, with the ability to switch back and forth between the latest news and the most popular articles.,” writes Liz Webber.

Tuesday media highlights

Here are some of the day’s top stories in the media industry:

Verizon Planning Its Own App Store (Business Insider)
Preethi Dumpala writes: “The main idea: Verizon wants to be the company connecting its customers with apps — not necessarily its handset partners. And it wants to avoid becoming an even dumber pipe. Depending on how it’s set up, this could clash with gadget makers’ plans.”

McGraw-Hill might ‘give away’ Business Week for nominal $1 (FT)
“McGraw-Hill might reap only a nominal $1 by selling Business Week, according to people familiar with the 80-year-old financial magazine’s record of losses. The publisher has appointed Evercore, a boutique investment bank, to sell the title after deciding it was non-core to a group that owns the Standard & Poor’s rating agency and an educational publisher, two people familiar with the decision said,” writes Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson.

Sinclair says it might consider bankruptcy (Baltimore Sun)
“The Hunt Valley-based owner of television stations, which depends heavily on automotive advertisers for revenue, said it might be obligated to pay $488.5 million of its total outstanding debt within the next 18 months. The company said it had $1.3 billion in total debt outstanding as of March 31,” writes Lorraine Mirabella.

Late Billy Mays leaves infomercial stardom void

Michael Jackson, the recently deceased “King of Pop”, was also lauded as a pioneer in celebrity advertising.  But many in the marketing industry appeared much more personally upset by a tragedy that was closer to home — the death on Sunday of  Billy Mays, the “King of Infomercials”.

Some viewers flee infomercials, which often last almost a half hour, and are filled with brash claims about products that, of course, are always the best inventions on the market for anything from peeling a vegetable or cleaning a house.

But Mays, who made it big in the late ninetes with a stain remover called OxiClean, convinced many viewers to listen by shouting his wares. As a result he became a popular icon and created a close following among marketers who saw him as a valuable pitchman.

Media Wrapup

Here is a selection of the day’s stories about the media industry:

US TV prepares for $2bn ad shortfall (FT)

“Digital video recorders that allow viewers to skip through commercials have knocked confidence in broadcast and cable advertising while younger, tech-savvy audiences are deserting their TV sets to spend more time online,” writes the Financial Times.

Smartphones, social networks to boost mobile advertising (Reuters)

Reuters reports: “As more consumers embrace new technologies and devices such as smartphones, personified by Apple’s iPhone, mobile advertising is seen growing at an annual average of 45 percent to reach $28.8 billion within 5 years from a current $3.1 billion, according to Ineum Consulting.”

Journalism Rules Are Bent in News Coverage From Iran (NYT)

Brian Stelter writes: “In a news vacuum, amateur videos and eyewitness accounts became the de facto source for information. In fact, the symbol of the protests, the image of a young woman named Neda bleeding to death on a Tehran street, was filmed by two people holding camera phones.”

In death Michael Jackson gives life to media

As the world mourned his death, Michael Jackson gave new life to all kinds of media – online, broadcast, print tabloids and broadsheets as the public appeared to lap up the extravagant reflections on the singer’s highs and lows.

T-shirts were sold and TV specials were planned giving a sense of drama reminiscent to the death of Diana Princess of Wales.

In newspapers like the New York Times, Jackson, 50, took over much of the Friday front page. Forget the political uproar in Iran, which has dominated headlines in recent days or the adulturous governor of South Carolina, or even the demise of Charlie’s Angels star Farrah Fawcett.

Digital Britain vision lacks political roadmap

The UK government’s grand reworking of digital policy, due out Tuesday, has something for every one to chatter about — from funding for a further broadband buildout to reworking television licensing fees to how the country faces up to the issue of media piracy.

But final publication of the Digital Britain report on Tuesday follows the marked deterioration of the economic environment as well as the collapse of the political muscle needed to marshall the report’ more ambitious changes through Parliament.

Stephen Carter, the former U.K. cable executive, named as U.K.’s Minister for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting only nine months ago, plans to leave the government soon after releasing the report.

First Bing ad airs tonight

Microsoft launches the first wave of the publicity campaign for its new search engine Bing tonight, with a prime time ad linking the recent financial chaos with small animals tapping on keyboards. At least that’s what it looks like:

The reasoning is questionable, but Microsoft won’t care as long as it gets people talking about its new product — which is fully available from today at www.bing.com — and ultimately gets them to utter the word ‘bing’ as a verb.

The first spot, made by ad agency JWT, is called ‘Manifesto’ and will hit in the middle of top shows such as CSI:NY tonight.

As GM files for bankruptcy, Madison Ave gets to work

“This is not about going out of business. This is about getting down to business.”
So says the latest advertisement from General Motors, which hit the automaker’s web site and YouTube just hours after it filed for bankruptcy protection.

The theme is reinvention (“General Motors needs to start over to get stronger”) and it is the first glimpse of what the folks over at the Interpublic Group agencies that work on GM have planned post-bankruptcy.

Keep an eye on:

    Microsoft offered a look into a future where the Xbox 360 console is the centerpiece of any living room (Reuters)
    DirecTV Chief Executive Chase Carey may be headed back to News Corp (Reuters)
    Lions Gate Entertainment posted a wider-than-expected fourth-quarter loss (Reuters)