Fat Rhino


Fat Rhino says…

Is Traditional Media Making a Comeback?


As Mark Twain once said, “The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated” and can the same now be said of traditional media?

I remember meeting John B Evans, Rupert Murdochs “Futurologist” way back in the early 90’s when I was an executive working on a newspaper called Today. 


John B Evans was doing a tour of the publications owned by Murdoch informing the staff of something that was coming that would change the face of everything-the Internet

His vision was that all information and news would eventually be read and stored on computers within the home or workplace, and that advertising revenues would migrate to this new platform starting with classified advertising. The effect of this on newspapers would be catastrophic and we needed to start planning for this.



At the time this seemed well, ludicrous. At home I had an Amstrad computer with a green screen and very little functionality and there was no way that was replacing anything as far as I could see. 

Fast forward to 2006 and many were still in denial. I remember attending a presentation by the then head of a new business called ‘You Tube’. His presentation was fun to watch, with lots of videos of cats doing silly things, which seemed to be the main content of the channel, and although the audience seemed to enjoy it there wasn’t much substance to the presentation until he was asked how Google expected to monetise this new platform.

His reply was that they didn’t know. 

They were not going to charge people to use it. 

They were not creating content. 

They carried no advertising. 

They were going grow the site until they had come up with a solution.

Within a few years it was obvious that they had. Digital advertising spend has grown consistently each year since 2006 whilst traditional media, especially print, has seen its advertising revenues decline. However, suddenly something seems to have happened. For the first time in many years, print display ad revenue has grown. And not just print.Radio, Out Of Home and TV have also seen significant year on year growth. Online still outperforms in terms of adspend but suddenly clients are starting to reinvest in traditional media.

But why?


With recent wobbles at Facebook and Twitter it would be easy to say that there has been a trust issue that has impacted on how clients view online platforms. Edlemans “Trust Barometer” published at the beginning of 2018 highlighted that trust in ‘social media’ had fallen to just 24% and ‘search’ to 47% whilst trust in traditional media had risen to 61%

But its far more than just the issue of  trust that has seen this resurgence. Traditional media has had to reinvent itself. It’s had to work harder and become more creative in what it offers advertisers. And advertisers are starting to return.  

Media owners ‘Innovation’ teams are coming up with more and more exciting ways of integrating brands into their content, giving clients and advertising agencies far more creative ways of getting advertising and marketing messages across to the consumer. What these offer to advertisers that they don’t necessarily get completely from Google and Facebook is additional credibility and brand confidence.

And what’s also good to know is that traditional media is still inspiring creative to come up with good and effective creative copy. 

And the great thing about traditional media is that even the most simple of executions can be effective.


This was a one off ad that ran over a bank holiday weekend to promote the retailers special offer on rosé wine. From a creative perspective this works even though it feels like a simple design.

And its not just in print that creativity is shining through.


Last year Campaign Magazine voted the English National Operas    ‘Madam Butterfly’ ad the Best Use of Cinema for a small Campaign.

The ad, placed by the media agency Total Media, challenged the clients perception, with the ENO using cinema for the first time. With smart planning and emotional creative, a small budget delivered fantastic business results and moved money from a previously on-line campaign that had been favoured in the past back into a traditional medium.

With many traditional media companies still seeing percentage improvements in their fortunes, albeit small when compared to online ad sales, it will be interesting to see how the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter respond.

I guess a chat with Rupert Murdochs futurologist would help!