Changing role of media in Germany

Submitted by: Ulbe Jelluma 28/04/2015

A study from Die Medienanstalten shows the change of role of German media. The study defines a main role of media to inform the consumers, media have an informative role. Over a five year period newspapers are perceived as less informative: from 42% (2009) to 35% (2014). Also TV is perceived as less informative (from 62 to 60%). In this five year period Internet has taken an important position as a source of information. In 2014 the medium scored 29%, whereas in 2009 it was only 19%. The informative role of magazines remained stable and low. Radio however is seen as the second best informative medium with an increase from 47 to 51%. 

This is an interesting development showing the change the various media brands are going through. Magazine and newspaper brands have diversified their offering with PDF editions, web editions and tablet and smartphone apps. Newspapers and magazines might have decreased in their role of information source, they will most certainly play that role extremely well online., and are among the Top 25 visited websites in Germany.

The next graph from the study of Die Medienanstalten shows how strongly the media are related to the informative character. In other words, what is the importance of the informative role of that medium? The graph shows some surprises. TV for example is seen a dominant informative medium, where one would expect TV also to play a very important role in terms of entertainment. The Internet is seen by almost half of the respondents as informative, whereas one would expect that share to be bigger. Newspapers remain predominantly an information source. Likewise with radio. Magazines have obviously a dual role of entertainment and information.

The last graph is what I would call the Sorrell equation. Sir Martin Sorrell mentioned about three years ago that advertising expenditures should follow the number of eyeballs. Meaning that more should be spend on digital media and less on print as the latter is loosing readership. Although some weeks ago he changed his view on this I still wanted to see how this works out in Germany. 

This equation does not take into account three important factors: the cost to reach a reader or a viewer. This cost/contact has a huge variation; the costs of the traditional media are higher than digital media. This will make a campaign in traditional media more expensive. 

The equation also does not take into account the value of a contact; does a contact via a magazine ad have the same value as a contact via a banner. Do consumers remember as much after having seen both forms of advertising? This is the essence of media planning, making sure the message fits the medium and that the right consumers are seeing the right message.

And lastly, this also represents the new position of Sorrell, we need to focus on engagement. What is the level of engagement of the reader or viewer with the advertising? Engaging consumers with advertising increases the effectiveness of the ad. And we know that the engagement levels of readers of newspapers and magazines is high. 

The graph below shows the share of advertising spend in 2014 per medium (red bars) and the share of media use (blue line). Newspapers still represent the highest share of ad spend in Germany, although the difference with Internet and TV is small. When combining this with the use figures we notice that for newspapers, Internet and magazines there is a discrepancy between the two which shows that there is relatively more invested. For TV and radio the situation is the reverse, given the number of users, more should be invested. 

Although we do not have engagement level figures per medium, we can estimate the comparative levels (blue dotted line). Print media score high in terms of engagement, with magazines doing very well. Other media score lower. The engagement levels are only indicative, but show a very different pattern than the media use. And engagement levels do justify the higher levels of investment on print media.