Digit-All Change

Following the news that Junior Magazine (part of Immediate Media Co’s stable of parenting titles) has closed its print publication, opting for a purely digital presence only, I thought it apt to revisit the current trends in digital media usage.

We live in a world that is increasingly mobile in digital arenas (no pun intended!): we shop online, socialise online, game online, watch TV online, etc.  It’s inevitable that we are going to want to consume our media online too.

In my post ‘The PR Mix’, I wrote how mothers in particular are amongst the main consumers of digital media.  As a mother myself I can relate to this; much of my news and information is sourced online – it’s convenient, often free, up-to-the-minute, and you can search multiple topics easily.

According to a recent news report by The Guardian, a global analysis of ‘How Consumers Spend Their Media Time’, a study by GlobalWebIndex cited by Warc, finds that people around the world now spend more time with digital than traditional media.

The study, based on responses from more than 32,000 internet users in 31 countries found that 5.6 hours or 57% of daily media consumption, was dedicated to digital, including social media and mobile internet usage.

Interestingly, it would seem that mobile technology has also had a significant influence over digital media consumption.  A report, covering 14 countries, released by InMobi demonstrates that growth of mobile media is constantly reshaping media consumption habits:

- Globally mobile ranks first in media consumption with 1.8 hours a day, outpacing TV (1.5 hours), PCs (1.6 hours) and any other channel.

- 50% of the average global mobile web users now use mobile as either their primary or exclusive means of going online.

It seems that the film industry too has been quick to play their digital media card as The Daily Telegraph journalist Mick Brown pointed out in a recent interview with The Guardian, stating that he has witnessed a decline in the value that the film industry place upon ‘traditional’ media and are instead investing more of their PR campaign into digital and social media.

Many media outlets have now adopted a ‘best of both’ approach - broadcasting news both online and in print. Some have (controversially) begun to capitalise on this new digital media movement, including media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who has already introduced a Paywall system to The Times and is reported to be doing the same with The Sun later this year. 

Traditional Vs. Digital

With the rise of citizenship journalism, it is important to consider whether the digital media is a credible and trustworthy resource.  As I touched on in my earlier post ‘PR Misconceptions’, when you receive a piece of editorial about your brand/product, it generates a level of credibility with the reader.  The higher they rate the media, the higher the perceived credibility of the brand/product.  For example, if you read about a ‘flying pig’ online, you’d probably be far more cynical about the story than if you’d read it in, say, The Daily Telegraph national newspaper.  

Traditional media outlets still have a big advantage over their digital media rivals - the value of the tangible, printed hard-copy still outranks that of digital media, even if only in perception alone.  Whilst the readership figures of traditional media might be half that of a digital counterpart, their readers are invested into that media especially if they’ve paid to receive copies; generating a more loyal readership, thus adding credibility to their editorial content.

On the flip side, digital exposure can work on multiple levels, not only increasing awareness and exposure for the brand but also with aiding search-engine visibility and organic results.  Digital stories also have longevity and can remain on servers for far longer than a print copy might stay on a desk or coffee table.

What can we deduce from this?

I think it’s safe to say that it’s no mystery that digital media is the way of the future.   For all those sceptics and old-school PRs that believed it was a fad, here’s looking at you!  I have always believed it is the responsibility of any publicist worth their salt to communicate messages across multiple platforms; both digital and traditional.   This research, while compelling, doesn’t mean it’s time to ditch ‘traditional’ and go digital.  What it does mean is that it’s time to embrace the digital media age - where once it might have been a nice boost to the ego to see your name in ‘print’, it is no longer wise to dismiss the value of digital media coverage garnered.