The Year Ahead: 2011 Predictions for Media

What to Expect in Entertainment Marketing, TV, Magazines and Radio

By Published on .

It's officially the New Year. What now? Well, the economy might be brightening, but we're not in the clear yet. Ad Age took the pulse of top executives in the major industry sectors to compile this preview. See sidebar for more predictions.

Ad Age has rubbed its crystal ball and predicted industry moves in:
  • Marketing
  • China
  • Media
  • Agencies
  • Digital

  • Entertainment

    Although product placement saw its first year-over-year dip in spending heading into 2010, the trend in branded content and sponsored entertainment is hardly losing momentum in 2011. Whether it's branded web series (which became a more than half-billion dollar business last year), event marketing, social-networking apps, product integrations or new musical variations on the jingle, entertainment marketing is finding new areas of growth in Hollywood, Madison Avenue and, increasingly, Silicon Valley. And as brands continue to outsource their legacy agency-of-record relationships, look for more media companies, talent agencies and independent consultants to take on the duties once handled by the BBDOs and JWTs.

    "The media plan which used to be somewhat pre-ordained, meaning you would have TV, radio, outdoor and print, has become much more up for grabs," said David Messinger, co-head of Creative Artists Agency's CAA Marketing. "Really the ideas are better when distribution can be anything that reaches people."

    Movie marketing

    Terrence Malick's 'Tree of Life' is set for 2011 release.
    Terrence Malick's 'Tree of Life' is set for 2011 release.
    After record-breaking box office and attendance in 2009, Hollywood suffered a minor case of Bad Movie Syndrome in 2010. The overhyping of 3-D for less-than-great movies was partially to blame ("Chronicles of Narnia," "Yogi Bear" and "Prince of Persia" all suffered as a result of high ticket prices), but so was the acceleration of word-of-mouth on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. The surprise success of "Inception," "The Social Network" and "True Grit" has given Hollywood renewed faith in greenlighting prestige pictures as tentpoles, while comedies like "Grown Ups" reminded the studios that audiences will come when you deliver the funny. And with a movie-rental/on-demand arms race that has swept up everyone from Netflix, iTunes, Blockbuster, Amazon and the soon-to-merge Comcast-NBC Universal, look for more movies in more places and with shorter theatrical-to-home video windows.

    Network TV

    They call it TV, but that popular appliance is no longer the only way consumers can enjoy content once solely associated with the boob tube. As a result, expect the media industry to scramble in 2011 to make money from viewers actively viewing "TV programs" on non-TV venues such as portable-device screens or web-enabled appliances.

    "The issue of measurement, the ability to continually count the audience everywhere they go, is one of the things we're seeing," said Alan Wurtzel, president-research and media development, NBC Universal. "The fact that they're not always consuming on a platform that we are able to measure effectively is becoming a problem." A relatively new organization, the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, is expected to ramp up its efforts in 2011, including the unveiling of a way to "tag" pieces of content no matter what venue they cross.

    Look for TV networks to work harder to harness the power of social media and other non-TV entertainment opportunities. Christopher Vollmer, leader of Booz & Co.'s global media and entertainment practice, envisions networks "moving their brands into video gaming and e-commerce environments" along with "continued experimentation with digital paid offerings."

    Addressable advertising has been on the cusp of arriving for so long that some are starting to question the idea. But one senior media-buying exec sees it gaining traction in the coming year. "By the time we speak a year from now, hopefully we'll have this up and running. It will be relatively limited because you're going to be on DirecTV, and have 6 million to 7 million subscribers, and 3 million to 4 million subscribers on Dish, but it's a beginning," said Rino Scanzoni, chief investment officer for WPP's Group M.

    Pay TV

    Cable, satellite and telco TV providers lost subscribers for the first time on a year-over-year basis in the second and third quarters of 2010, siphoning 741,000 customers in third quarter alone, according to SNL Kagan. The culprit? The web, which continues to wean more viewers off their cable boxes by offering up free full-length episodes of hit shows on Hulu, cheap à la carte episodes of cable shows like "Mad Men" and "Keeping Up With The Kardashians" on iTunes and free over-the-top streaming of sites like YouTube and Netflix on your TV. Look for operators like Time Warner Cable, DirecTV, Verizon Fios and Comcast to roll out more features like remote DVR programming apps for the iPhone and iPad, emphasizing the bundling of TV subscriptions with 3G and 4G wireless networks and more competitive pricing on channel tiers.


    Magazines turned in a modest ad-page recovery last year but it's not clear whether they'll match even those gains in 2011, said Robin Steinberg, senior VP-director of publisher investment and activation at MediaVest USA. The industry would help itself if it continued moving toward offering ad programs and away from hoping for a simple ad page sale, she said.

    The iPad was the bright light of publishing last year, of course, but 2011 is going to be a year to try to make it.
    The iPad was the bright light of publishing last year, of course, but 2011 is going to be a year to try to make it.
    "The focus needs to be on content and audiences, platform neutral," Ms. Steinberg said. "How, when and where consumers engage with publishing brands is their choice. This is not about buying ad pages any more, but creating new opportunities that are simultaneously scaled but targeted, across all platforms, supported by highly valued and trusted content."

    The iPad was the bright light of publishing last year, of course, but 2011 is going to be a year to try to make it -- and the competing tablets now rushing to market -- a serious platform for magazines and their advertisers. That means hammering out subscription sale capabilities that make both tablet manufacturers -- Apple is the real sticking point here -- and publishers.

    But it also means recognizing that tablet editions aren't big enough yet with consumers to command the kind of six-figure sponsorship deals they won last year from advertisers looking to be first movers.

    "While we are only about a year into this, magazine app edition sales are less than stellar," Ms. Steinberg said. "Publishers believed that this would save the industry, but we quickly learned that consumers would rather pay $4.99 for their physical copy and want a different, unique and timely experience delivered on the tablet, not a replica version. Advertisers were jumping on board immediately as we wanted to be 'first to market' and to begin the 'test and learn' process. [Last year] was experimental and exploratory, but in 2011 we are screaming for performance measures and an ad model that makes sense. Some sort of standardization needs to be established, at a minimum, because we are trying to find a way through the new frontier. Right now it's moving at a turtle's pace, which is so typical for publishers."


    The struggling radio industry experienced a minor comeback in 2010, thanks to the return of local auto and political advertising, as well as digital growth of apps from Pandora, CBS' Last.Fm, Slacker Radio and Clear Channel's Iheartradio. In 2011, look for more radio in even more places -- from cars (Clear Channel just announced new distribution deals with Ford and Toyota for Iheartradio) to TVs (Pandora is second perhaps only to Netflix as the go-to app for connected TVs this year) to MP3 players (the iPod Nano was the first portable music player to come equipped with an FM tuner in late 2009). Because of that long-awaited embrace of the digital age, radio is attracting big-name media execs such as former MTV Networks CEO Bob Pittman, who joined Clear Channel late last year as chairman.

    "We're beginning to realize it's a very big world out there, and we're the most flexible of all the media," Mr. Pittman said. "At Clear Channel, between all our stations and our syndicated products, we have 200 million monthly uniques. Google in the U.S. is 170 million and a wildly successful media company, so when you start talking about that kind of scale there's almost nothing that isn't of interest to us."

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