by Martin MacGregor (@MartMacG) I came across some quaint January 2020 marketing trend articles the other day and had a good laugh. Predicting the future has always been a guessing game but has there ever been a moment when everything by everyone has been so quickly proved wrong?

“Don’t make predictions, especially about the future.”

There’s much debate about who said this but definitely not about its truth. So, I’m going to give predictions a miss but am going to unpack what I think are the two clear realities in paid media right now.

MarkLives logoWhile we have your attention, please would you consider taking out a MarkLives membership to help finance our operations? The covid-19 pandemic is having a huge impact on society and industry. With your support, either as a once-off or monthly contribution, we can continue our coverage of its impact on our industry.

The fast-forward

Behaviour change was always seen as something that happened in increments. The lockdown shock has changed that and, overnight, consumers’ relationship with media has changed massively, most probably for good.

What it’s showed up is that any media that were fighting a bigger trend against them were very quickly going to have face reality. It’s sad what’s happened to media owners such as Associated Media Publishing and Caxton Magazines, but definitely not a surprise. More will definitely follow. Print will survive for niches and in bookstores. I’ve been buying the Sunday Times every week during lockdown but just for nostalgia’s sake.

I’m also not sure the cinema experience will survive. Now that I’ve explored all the possible platforms to watch movies, the ease and comfort is just too great to ignore. And that is the big upside for media reliant on data. Whether streaming entertainment on a smart TV, searching for the latest news or connecting with friends on social media, understanding of the virtual world has increased exponentially. There’ll be no going back.

Running parallel to this has been the huge success of the #datamustfall campaign over the last month. In such an unequal country, access to cheaper data is a game changer for media. We’re definitely not going back.

The double opportunity

Staring marketing teams in the face is the double opportunity of a lifetime. This hit me when reading a 2020 update from Twitter the other week. Global audiences have soared to 168m from 134m the year before. However, since mid-March there has been a 27% drop in advertising revenue.

This is reflected in any medium that has been on the right side of “the fast-forward”. Audiences are up yet economic reality means revenue will be down — and most likely will be for a while. As with any business faced with falling revenues, pricing will become very negotiable. This means the double opportunity of buying a lot more eyeballs and ears for a whole lot less.

Outside of the audience increase on digital platforms, early data is showing increases in TV prime time and daytime audiences — and marked increases in news channel audiences. Although data is not out yet, the same seems likely in the case of daytime radio. So, potentially, this is a golden time for brands wishing to make a big impact. Like oil, the currency of audience attention is cheap.

It’ll be interesting to see who the brave brands are. Just like certain media, this moment is a rare opportunity to leap ahead of competitors.

See also


Martin MacGregorMartin MacGregor (@MartMacG) has been managing director of Connect, the M&C Saatchi media agency with offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, since 2012. He has spent 22 years in the industry, having previously worked at Ogilvy and been MD of Nota Bene (now Wavemaker) in Cape Town. Martin contributes the regular “Media Redefined” column, in which he challenges norms in the media space, to

This MarkLives #CoronavirusSA special section contains coverage of how the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and its resultant disease, covid-19, is affecting the advertising, marketing and related industries in South Africa and other parts of Africa, and how we are responding. Updates may be sent to us via our contact form or the email address published on our Contact Us page. Opinion pieces/guest columns must be exclusive.

Sign up now for the MarkLives newsletter, including headlines and become a MarkLives Member, too, to ensure continued coverage.

Online CPD Courses Psychology Online CPD Courses Marketing analytics software Marketing analytics software for small business Business management software Business accounting software Gearbox repair company Makeup artist