Jeremy Lee on Media: Change is as old as the hills

The media world has never been in stasis, so it's time to find a new excuse for its shortcomings.

Why is there such incessant talk of a 'changing media landscape' and an attendant nostalgia for brighter days long-gone? It is so rife that one might be forgiven for thinking that, figuratively speaking, where once there was an unspoilt rural idyll, now there are simply ripped-up hedges and acres of tarmac, laid down one weekend by a group of travellers with JCBs.

Such is the potency of these three words that they conjure up images of a perfect old order usurped from its pride of place - like a treasured Turner masterpiece, ripped from its hanging place in a gallery, before being swiped, defaced and found dumped in a skip. All that is left of its former incarnation is the dusty outline of a frame on a wall - sad, but perhaps ultimately a sign of the nasty times in which we live.

The 'changing landscape' line is an emotive (and now hackneyed) one; no wonder, then, that lazy media practitioners love to trot it out, usually in hushed tones, to explain away current shortcomings against past performance.

Much like a ruined painting or disappearing meadows, there is a resigned acceptance of the outcome - all was good before, but now something unforeseen has happened for which no one could have prepared. But that's really not good enough.

The media industry has never been preserved in aspic; change has always been apparent. So to pin the blame on some external and, ostensibly, uncontrollable force is as good as admitting that those within the media industry had no idea of what was happening outside it, let alone the confidence to deal with or influence it.

ITV chief executive Adam Crozier, who, having been a change agent so many times in the past, really should know better, was the most recent exponent of this view at the presentation of the broadcaster's better- than-expected results.

In fact, he even contradicted him- self when he stated that the television market has 'changed beyond recognition' but added the qualifying statement that 'audiences continue to fragment'.

It was always thus, even within the parochial world of ITV, and that's what makes media exciting and challenging for advertisers to understand and keep up with.

More importantly, it is the job of people such as Crozier to study the geomorphology and ensure that they change along with the corresponding alterations to media's contours.

ITV is not the only entity guilty of playing the 'changing media landscape' card; other broadcasters, publishers and, more worryingly, media agencies use the excuse too.

Given that advertisers pay agencies to advise them on future trends, rounding on change as if it is an unforeseen act of God is not acceptable.

It's a hand-wringing trick played by old media companies, wedded to old ways of working. They now look so dangerously behind what is going on in the real world that whatever their attempts to redress the balance, they will never catch up.

So the next time your agency shrugs its shoulders, looks sadly to the skies and blames the 'changing media landscape', or a media owner attributes its poor performance to this, just stop and ask them exactly what they mean.

In reality, the answer is likely to be that they don't know, either because they are ill-equipped for change, guilty of a lack of vision, suffer from poor management or, most probably, all of the above.

- Jeremy Lee is associate editor of Marketing. Read his blog at marketingmagazine.co.uk

30 SECONDS ON ... ITV strategy

- The broadcaster is to launch ITV1+1 in January 2011, following the successful launch of ITV1 HD in April.

- It is also entering the pay-TV fray, after agreeing a deal with Sky to take ITV2, 3 and 4 HD onto the satellite broadcaster's platform.

- ITV1 HD is already available on Sky, as well as on Freesat, Freeview and Virgin. ITV2 HD will launch in October, with ITV3 HD and ITV4 HD launching shortly afterwards.

- Following a review of GMTV, the early-morning programme will be relaunched as Daybreak in September 2010.

- The replacement show will be hosted by new signings and former The One Show hosts Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley.

- The ITV1 network programme budget will be held below £800m in 2011 and 2012, a reduction on the current year's £820m forecast.

- The broadcaster has set up an investment fund of £75m that will be allocated to online developments, including content and digital channels, over the next three years.

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Oasis #springasmile digital campaign gets people doing good deeds
Coca-Cola: 'Don't approach bloggers with a fait accompli'
Tesco CMO Matt Atkinson: 'It is so important not to stereotype mothers'
McDonald's gives Ronald a new look ahead of global 'Fun times' social media push
In pictures: BrewDog opens first craft beer shop BottleDog for 'beer aficionados'
Facebook ad revenue leaps $1bn as it invests in targeting
Malteser or Maltesers? Mars takes Hershey trademark dispute to court
Apple Q2 profits top $10bn as iPhone sales soar
Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers