Legacy Media Can Compete by Connecting to Audience Intent, Not Media Face Time

Should marketers allocate their advertising budgets to align with the amount of time consumers spend on specific media forms? This topic is debated regularly in the advertising industry. Media mix allocation deserves another look, according to Borrell Associates in the Future of yellowpagesLegacy Media report, as more consumer time shifts to digital screens. The analysts caution against aligning marketing expenditures with time spent on media formats because doing so ignores the important factor of consumer intent.

In their report, Borrell analysts show how consumer media time is changing. For example, in the next 5 years, the daily time spent with print newspapers, magazines and directories will drop significantly. The same holds true for radio, direct mail, and pure-​play Internet sites used in desktop mode. On the other hand, cable TV, video games and pure-​play Internet sites used in a mobile environment are projected to grow through 2018. As a result of the way consumers use media, analysts predict that the only legacy media formats with a strong growth outlook are cable TV and out-of-home.

Yet, in this rapidly shifting environment, marketers continue to spend on other legacy media. For example, the $8 billion being spent on print directories costs far more per exposure than a comparable ad run on the radio. The important factor for marketers in the decision-​making process is consumer intent.  Consumers may not spend much time with print directories but when they turn to these resources, they are seeking a specific piece of information and will act on the ads they see.

Borrell posits that as digital  audience targeting becomes more sophisticated, marketers will increase their investment in media formats like cable TV and online to reach consumers who have purchase intent. Until that happens on a large scale, legacy formats will continue to have a place with media buyers.

Do you agree with Borrell's assertion? How long do you think it will take for directory listings to become completely digital?

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.