Just How Much Saving of the Media Does the IPad Need to Do?

Media Guy Simon Dumenco's White Paper Examines the Wreckage of the Past Year

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Did the earth move for you? Was it as good for you as it was for Steve?

OK, so maybe you didn't preorder an iPad, or line up at an Apple store on Saturday; perhaps you're just not a 1.0 kind of person. Or maybe you don't plan to ever get one. But if you're a media or marketing person, you can't help but care about Apple's new tablet -- the 1.5 pound wonder that's been hyped as the savior of media, particularly newspapers and magazines.

For more analysis of what just happened, and what happens next, I invite you to buy a copy of "Dumenco's State of the Media Report." Or come see me at Ad Age's Digital Conference, April 14. Or better, do both! (Also available for parties, bat mitzvahs, etc.)
I thought a lot about the near-divinity ascribed to the tablet handed down by Moses -- er, Jobs -- as I worked on the latest Ad Age Insights white paper, titled "Dumenco's State of the Media Report" and subtitled "From Social Media to Search, Print to Broadcast and Beyond, Where Ad-Supported Media Stands Now -- and Where It's Going." (It's available starting today.)

Cupertino cultists are, of course, automatically inclined to ascribe mystical qualities to new Apple products, but in the media/marketing world, the longing for salvation through technology is especially acute given what happened to all of us in 2009. What we're hoping for, really, is not just a reversal of fortune, but a reversal of plot. Whereas we've all spent the last few years watching digital technology take a wrecking ball to nearly every sector of the traditional media economy, now we hope technology can suddenly save traditional media.

The State of the Media white paper is filled with all manner of charts and graphs that delineate last year's wreckage. (Of course some players -- Facebook and Google -- did just fine, thank you very much.) But despite entirely justified cries of "The sky is falling!" it's important to remember that it's not just the media sky that's been falling. Consider, for instance, the utter collapse of the automotive industry. Ad-supported media, from newspapers and magazines to radio and TV, have always depended disproportionately on carmakers' marketing dollars. Chrysler cut its TV ad spending in 2009 by half -- with the other majors cutting at least 30%.

So while new-media cheerleaders insist broadcast is dead and internet-streamed video is what really matters, they're forgetting that: 1) Broadcast TV's numbers looked bad in 2009 because most marketers' numbers were bad; and 2) in many ways, broadcast TV is more popular than ever, with events such as the Super Bowl and Oscars drawing record audiences.

No wonder it's hard to tell what's really up and what's really down anymore -- and whether the metrics reflect secular or cyclical shifts. What last year really did was test the limits of our faith in some of the basic tenets of marketing and media.

As a media person, when big-budget marketers pull the rugs out from under you, do you lose all faith in rugs and floors? Do you resolve to henceforth trust nothing but gravity?

And if you're a marketer watching traditional channels fracture, to what extent should you be abandoning the tried and true in favor of, say, the still largely unchartered waters of social-media marketing, not to mention iPad advertising?

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