Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Staying in tune with your audiences

Chris Beer, Trends Analyst at GWI, discusses the current trends within the global media landscape and how marketers can tap into these trends.   

The media landscape is shaped by emerging technology and trends. With the rising popularity of podcasts and social platforms like TikTok, brands have numerous avenues to better connect and interact with their audiences in different ways.  

These platforms hold value, but it’s important for marketers not to overlook more traditional forms of media when it comes to consumer engagement. Our research at GWI shows that amidst this digital revolution, traditional media such as broadcast television continues to hold its ground, with just under a third of consumers still discovering new brands via TV ads. Therefore, marketers and media planners looking to reach key customers should reflect this in their campaigns. 

Here, we explore the latest trends in the media landscape, from the use of traditional forms of media such as TV as an effective advertising tool, alongside the rise of streaming platforms and the implications of the evolving role of social media as a search engine. 

The power of traditional TV 

In today’s media landscape, where dramatised shows, films, documentaries, and short-form video content is available in abundance, it is harder than ever to capture and maintain the attention of audiences. But despite a notable shift in media content in the last decade, broadcast TV has continued to remain a relevant form of media for the vast majority of people in the UK. In fact, according to our research, it’s still more popular than online streaming with nearly two-thirds (64%) of Brits watching live TV compared to online streaming (36%).  

We can see TV ads continue to capture the attention of consumers and influence their behaviour all over the world. This is particularly notable during live broadcast events like the Super Bowl LVIII with over 120 million US fans tuning in to watch and the fanfare spread over the pond. Broadcast live on ITV and Sky’s NFL channel, the event gripped the nation with over a million tuning in live despite the time difference making the run time the early hours for those of us in the UK. 

With viewing figures like this, broadcast events can present a prime advertising opportunity for brands. It’s no secret that the Super Bowl has become as much an advertising event as a sports event, with high-profile, star-studded commercials capturing the attention of audiences. So much so that almost half (41%) of US viewers who planned to watch the event said they preferred watching the ads to the game itself.  

And marketers know this. They know that ad spend on Super Bowl is investing in a platform that has a seriously engaged audience. The beauty of a live sports event, especially one that’s a spectacle, means that sports fans are hooked and their attention is grabbed in a way that isn’t guaranteed with on-demand viewing. And with the likes of the Euros and Olympics on the horizon, it’s important for brands to recognise the impact of traditional broadcast advertising when they come to allocate ad budgets.  

Streaming services vying for consumer attention 

While broadcast TV still commands a greater share of total TV time, our findings show that over a third (36%) of TV viewing time is spent on online streaming. UK viewers are spending an average of 46 more minutes per day watching online TV than they were a decade ago, so although broadcast remains strong, streaming is undoubtedly catching up. 

We can see that streaming services have experienced significant growth in the last few years, with the likes of Netflix recording marked profits in the latest quarter. With original content like ‘Baby Reindeer’ and the latest series of ‘Bridgerton’ drawing in high viewing figures, the platform is dominating in its cultural significance by tapping into a growing online audience. And, much like other platforms, its optional ad-supported subscription model brings opportunities for brands to reach, and resonate with, these already engaged audiences. Whether through interactive ad formats or tailored content, there is a clear opportunity for brands here. 

And it’s not just video streaming that brands ought to tap into. As mentioned, other forms of streamed media like podcasts are rising in popularity, and as a result are increasingly being utilised by marketers to share ads. Our research shows that 12% of consumers discover new brands and products through podcast ads and sponsored content, suggesting that podcasts are an effective way for advertisers to reach some very in-demand audience groups.    

Reshaping strategies for success 

As marketers continue to navigate the shifts in media consumption, it’s important for them to understand where media audiences are, so they can reach them in the right place at the right time. There is an opportunity here for marketers to use the different viewing formats together in a complementary way that boosts the overall impact. Instead of discounting the power of traditional TV, it’s better to take a more holistic approach and recognise the opportunities provided by ad-supported streaming networks, and harness social media as a search engine. Looking at all available avenues and formats gives marketers the chance to establish deeper connections with their target audience and drive sustained growth.