What Signal is Ad Spending Really Giving Us?

As the axiom goes “the only thing right about a sales forecast is that it’s wrong.” Seems those watching and forecasting ad spending trends are facing this dilemma in a world in drastic change mode. As eMarketer reported today, most ad spending won’t just decline next year, it will plummet.

However, the silver lining (there’s always a silver lining isn’t there?) is that online ad spending is increasing, about 8.6% the forecasters are predicting. So, we continue to see ad spending in traditional media channels continuing to slump.
I doubt many are surprised that ad sales are declining so significantly in traditional mediums. I think there’s two things at play here however; 1) people aren’t responding to advertising anymore the way they used to and 2) people are creating their messages the way they want to and this presents a whole new set of challenges.
Let’s also not forget that despite the explosive growth of the Web and the advancement of “digital” channels, there was a huge growth of new magazines and newspapers worldwide over the past ten years. Now we’re in a market correction and so many of these specialty publication are dying as a result of natural market movements.
Perhaps the biggest take-away for me in this story is number 2 above; that consumers are fundamentally changing the social contract that has existed for the past 60+ years in the modern age of media. Seth Godin points out how marketers are liars…and as consumers, we’re tired of the same old approach. What these stats may really be showing is the shift in this social contract as a result of the uptake of Social Media.
Do you think this is part of the story? Has the social contract ended?

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