Whither advertising coverage in biz news?
Brian Steinberg of Variety examines the future of advertising news coverage in the financial media in the wake of the decision by longtime New York Times advertising writer Stuart Elliott to accept the paper’s buyout offer and leave later this month.
Steinberg writes, “If the Times were to discontinue its ‘Advertising’ column, it would mark the end of what was once a staple in many large American newspapers. For years, the Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and USA Today had reporters on staff who were devoted to coverage of advertising, and many of the papers reserved space once a week or even once a day for the latest news of the advertising industry: account wins and losses; new hires; new campaigns; and the ripples ads often caused in popular culture. In a different time, George Lazarus, Phil Dougherty and Lewis Lazare cut impressive — even fearful — figures when they served as ad columnists for the Tribune, the Times and the Sun-Times, respectively.
“The ad business — or at least what once constituted it — has been severely disrupted by new technologies, however, since their heyday. In 2014 big TV-ad campaigns are giving way to smaller ones spread across niche cable programs or social media. Print advertising is morphing into so-called native ads that look much like the editorial product they support. Measurement of ad reach and impact has become a tremendous problem for marketers of all stripes. Advertisers are less interested in making a splash with every single consumer. Instead, they are driven by data from TV set-top boxes, Web clicks and customer-loyalty cards that give them granular information on what kinds of consumers buy their products as well as the circumstances that lead them to do so.
“The business of advertising today is just as much about Twitter, Apple and Facebook as it is about ABC, Time magazine and Vogue, and critics could argue that coverage of marketing has not always embraced that evolution.
“The Wall Street Journal, which ended its advertising column in print a few years ago, recently debuted a new ‘portal’ or blog-like effort called ‘CMO Today’ that puts more of an emphasis on the new-tech aspects of advertising and less of a spotlight on the various agencies that jockey for ad work. Suzanne Vranica, the paper’s advertising editor, has worked there for more than a decade. The feature also has a primary sponsor, Adobe, a company that specializes in digital media and marketing.”
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