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Media Media Planning and Buying Brand

Amid summer of media discontent, try investing in creators and news instead


By Lou Paskalis | Chief strategy officer

August 1, 2023 | 6 min read

Lou Paskalis, chief strategy officer for Ad Fontes Media, has two hot tips for those seeing ROI trouble ahead.


The media industry is facing a summer of discontent. TV networks are suffering through one of the slowest Upfront sales periods in recent memory. The online ad industry is still plagued with waste and fraud. And now Hollywood is on strike, meaning we’re unlikely to see any new scripted programming before 2024.

All of this comes at a bad time for an industry that is reeling from ratings declines in traditional media, increased production costs, and competition for attention from gaming and social media. It’s a tough environment for any marketer to demonstrate return on investment with their advertising dollars.

If you’re an advertiser, the obvious places to turn in the absence of fresh, scripted programming is sports and unscripted television. These might work for some advertisers who need to get their messages to market in the run-up to the holiday shopping season. Increasing local advertising investments might also be worth contemplating.

There are two other areas that I’d suggest that you consider: the creator economy and news.

Why the creator economy?

It’s no longer news that the creator economy is booming. Goldman Sachs estimates it’s a $250bn market today and will double in five years. Not only are marketers using full-time creators to engage millennials and Gen Z, but idled Hollywood actors are putting more energy into their social media efforts. As Drew Hartwell and Taylor Lorenz report in The Washington Post, the walkout will likely turn some established actors into TikTok stars, and vice versa.

With the 2024 planning season already upon us, now is the time to move creators into the mainstream planning process if you haven’t already. A recent study by Annalect and Twitter found that 49% of consumers say they depend on influencer recommendations to help them make purchase decisions, 63% say they trust influencer messages over “branded content,” and 70% of those under twenty trust influencers more than “traditional celebrities.” Perhaps most sobering of all, 74% of consumers surveyed in the study indicated that they find content from brands “annoying” and are “actively dodging” brand messages.

“Creators and influencers can establish and build trust, grow communities, drive awareness and excitement for brands, products, and content,” As my good friend, Jamie Gutfreund, chief growth officer of Whalar, said recently. “Nearly half of consumers say that if an online creator they trust has reviewed a brand’s product, they are more likely to trust that brand.”

The news is the news

Many brands have moved away from advertising in news in the last decade over concerns about brand suitability and to avoid increasingly polarizing culture wars. While this was initially understandable, several research studies have made it clear that most folks would prefer to see brands advertise in news, even unsettling news, than avoid it. Returning to advertising in high-quality news now would open up access to significant unduplicated reach and attractive pricing given the drop in demand for those advertisers savvy enough to recognize the opportunity.

A recent study, The Advertising Value of High-Quality News, released by my employer, Ad Fontes Media and Civic Science, showed high-quality news journalism delivered audiences that were 37% more likely to hold a graduate degree, 51% more likely to be an EV intender, 80% more likely to dine out at local restaurants and perhaps most importantly of all, 25% likelier to describe themselves as “happy” when compared to those who’s information diet consisted of lower quality and less reliable news as measured by the Ad Fontes Media Interactive Media Bias Chart.

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The IAB’s 2020 News Trust Halo study revealed that 84% of consumers feel advertising within news actually increases or at least maintains brand trust reinforcing the insight that the concerns keeping most advertisers out of news are largely unfounded.

The bottom line is that demand for news will most likely shatter all previous records in the run-up to the next election. As marketers look for alternatives for their advertising investments to offset upfront surpluses, the most savvy would be wise to embrace news and as a means to drive their business goals and also chip in a bit on their civic responsibility to support quality news journalism as well.

So there you have it, two free ideas to navigate a tough upfront season and get the word out about why people can’t live without your product or service and deliver your growth objectives. Your stakeholders will thank you.

Media Media Planning and Buying Brand

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