The social media and other online news sources otherwise known as the new media that came on board gave the traditional media a run for their money. To compound the whole problem, Facebook and Instagram started delivering content based on algorithms that matched consumers’ interests. This made the situation a bit more difficult for brands and news outlets to guarantee they reached their audiences.
A research carried out by The Pew Research Center reported that the estimated total U.S. daily weekday print circulation decreased 10 percent while the Sunday circulation decreased 9 percent in 2016 from the previous year. This was said to have marked the 28th consecutive year of decline.
Newspapers make their revenue from subscription and ads. The bigger chunk of the revenue generated by these print media unequivocally comes from ads and with the coming on stream of the social media, this has suffered a devastating blow.
The industry generated a total ad revenue of $19 billion in 2016 down from $49 billion in 2006. Facebook, on the other hand, was reported to single-handedly make an ad revenue of $9.16 billion in the second quarter of 2017, representing a 47 percent increase over the same quarter last year.
All the arrows seem to be pointing the way down over the years for the traditional media but the recent Cambridge Analytica Scandal involving Facebook may change the scenario.
It’s no news that Facebook keeps tracks of users data but the recent alleged illegal data mining of as many as 87 million users that was acquired by Cambridge Analytica is another ball game altogether. The immediate reverberations show that Facebook’s stock prices have dropped by 10 percent.
Speaker manufacturer Sonos was reported to have said that it was pulling its ads from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Google and make a donation to digital rights conference, RightsCon.
Apart from the meeting that took place between Mark Zuckerberg and the Congress, it’s on record that the UK’s Information Commission’s Office is pursuing its own investigation. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is not planning to sweep the issue under the carpet as it has also set up its own investigation.
Not to be left out, the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner has joined in the investigations. More countries and the very big brands may also decide to set up bodies to investigate the damage that has been done to their citizens and customers as the case may be. The investigation this time around may be all-encompassing, targeted at all the social networks to find out which among them is culpable and to what extent.
It will be recalled that in February, the Unilever CMO, Keith Weed, threatened to pull the FMCG giant’s digital advertising from Facebook and Google for allowing controversial and extreme content on their platforms. It won’t be a surprise if the recent scandal pushes Unilever to go all the way in actualizing the threat.
How could this be a possible plus for Traditional Media?
One thing the scandal generated was the call for #DeleteFacebook, which influential people like Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX) and Brian Acton (WhatsApp) were reported to have answered to. This will be expected to affect other platforms like Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Google.
Sinan Aral, a management professor at MIT’s Sloan School of Management was reported to have said that “people are now beginning to realize that social media is not just either a fun plaything or a nuisance. It can have potentially real consequences in society.”
The scenario that may possibly play out is that organizations may decide to start pulling their ads from Facebook and other social networks. Given that marketing borders so much on ads, it can only be expected that brands will seek for alternative means of reaching out to customers and clients with the aim of getting them to know about their new products and even a reminder of the old ones from time to time.
If the situation boomerangs to the extent that individuals have been given the final nudge to turn away from the social media and start closing the different accounts they have with the networks as tooted in #DeleteFacebook, it means that they will start losing the marketing power they have been enjoying.
The premise here may be far-fetched but the fact is that brands will want to continue doing ads and the only outlet that may be readily available to them in the interim will be the very old traditional media.
What that may translate to is a rebirth of the traditional media. The billboards will resurface again. The electronic and print media will have a fresh breath and the attendant new lease of life.
The coming days will definitely be very interesting in the social network industry and we may be heading to bridging the gap that has been existing between the traditional and social media.