From CARD: Buyers plan to stop the degradation of local media

Will there be a paradigm shift toward creating a more sustainable media ecosystem in the years to come?

This year, media investment decisions have become an important focus – both for the public and the marketing industry. COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of real, fact-based news, especially as it pertains to the health of our communities. Advertiser support is of course the only way these local entities can survive – at least based on our current model.

Momentum and discussion in the media industry are gaining traction due to the crisis in local and community news media closings, says Sarah Thompson, CSO of Mindshare Canada.

“There is not a leader in media today that isn’t concerned with the state of news media, especially local and community, and this is a conversation we are all having and 2021 will be the year of momentum. You will see the industry start to work collaboratively to solve this quickly.”

Thompson believes there will be a shift to create a more sustainable media ecosystem through more support for local media companies, but there are a few things that need to happen to get there. That includes making panels and research studies used for media planning more representative of all Canadians.

“If [panels] lean more urban, white, and are not inclusive, that leads investment away from local media,” she says. “We need to do more collaborative industry research on ad adjacency, brand safety, attention to specific media, and the power of different media for Canadians. We need a cross-media measurement that considers the weight and value of local media with smaller audiences.”

She says it’s equally important to educate both staff and clients on the issue and the industry’s role in creating a more vibrant media ecosystem. Thompson previously shared with CARD’s sister publication Media in Canada that Mindshare is already working on doing its part.

The agency’s CEO Devon MacDonald shared that Mindshare is launching a new Inclusivity and Intentional Planning model, and Thompson says that it’s looking to develop a set definition of “intentional investment.” The thought process will be to put 2% to 5% of campaign spend, for example, toward local news media or into channels that support diversity and inclusion.

Brian Cuddy, VP digital activation at Cossette Media, says shifting toward more purposeful planning is important for the media industry and its continued existence.

“We all need a healthy media ecosystem to foster a better future. However, the difficulty is in shifting our current paradigm,” says Cuddy. “On one hand, we have a free-market information economy with consumers who demand 24/7 content; while on the other hand, we have trained advertisers who value short-term outcomes that are cost effective – amplified through our current digital performance media culture of clicks, views, impressions, and conversions.”

How can local media compete head-to-head in an era of 24/7 global content farms? Cuddy suggests media organizations and advertisers look at the issue through a lens of value and intention. “We need to plan our investments around the value they bring to customers, advertisers and our information ecosystem. This isn’t easy. It takes a deep understanding of the landscape, what to avoid and how to measure real value,” he says.

“It’s uncomfortable perhaps in the short term as it will require a mindset shift – however, the long-term opportunity is undeniable.”