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Trends 2013: An aerial view of the media landscape

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TheMediaOnline asked media professionals across the spectrum, from radio and digital to print and agencies, to predict what key trends will emerge in 2013. Today, we publish the short and pithy, giving an aerial view of various industry components, in the first of a series that we’ll run until January 2013.

Sandra Gordon: publisher of The Media magazine and TheMediaOnline


As the number of media and communication channels explode, the need for content – good and sticky not arbitrary – will follow suit.


The number of freelance writers/journlists will increase as newspapers cut back. Digital cannot afford the cost of newsrooms because their business model is flawed.

Out of Africa

SA media owners will continue to look to Africa to expand their influence.


The cost of advertising across digital platforms will increase, as brands take to it.

SAARF will implode and be rejigged and rejuvenated to suit the sector better.

Chris Whitfield: editor-in-chief of the Cape Times, Cape Argus, Weekend Argus and Daily Voice

Digital media

Vast amounts of money will continue to be thrown at this in a brave attempt to find a formula that makes financial sense. But the horse bolted when deluded media bosses decided to put newspaper and agency copy online for free and those trying to close the stable door are fighting a mighty flood (which is drowning print media).


Hoax calls dwindle.

Social media

Several prominent people across the world are declared dead when they are in fact in rude health. The lines between journalism, rumour and comment become horribly blurred. Truth becomes a rare commodity.

Print media

The three remaining journalists who believe in print continue their noble pursuit of the truth. Nobody believes them.

Strategic communications

Several lies are told.


And some more. The perpetrators somehow pass themselves off as trendy and cutting edge – and are believed.

Gordon Muller: Africa’s oldest surviving media planner. Mostly harmless. Jozi. South Africa 

Digital media

People will stop thinking of digital media and social media as separate communication categories.

Social media

Advertisers will increasingly engage with DigiSocial media but only because they think they should. Increasingly though, marketers will realise that in order to positively engage with consumers on DigiSocial media, they will need to add value to the exchange. You want me to like your brand? Then give me something to like! And not just once a year on my birthday either!

Print media

The Johnny Cash Condition (I fell into a burning ring of fire; I went down, down, down and the flames went higher; And it burns, burns, burns, the ring of fire; The ring of fire). Circulations will continue to decline and sooner or later AMPS readership figures will catch up with the reality of declining ad-exposure. Hopefully advertisers will realise the futility of free bulk distribution for targeted advertising effectiveness. Other than for retailers, print media will increasingly be used as a focused target medium not as a reach generator.

Strategic communications

Long term strategic thinking will continue to be eroded in tough economic climates and communication will increasingly be directed at achieving short-term results. Building long term holistic brand health will play second fiddle to just keeping the brand breathing.


Selling media cost-efficiency will continue to excite procurement officers and media-owners who like to sell cheap but sensible marketers will increasingly be looking at cost-effectiveness. Agencies, both creative and media, will need to work much closer together to facilitate this. Simon Broadbent said it 40 years ago! If advertising doesn’t contribute… then it will fall out the game!

Louis Eksteen: MD of Twisted Toast


Inbound marketing, driven by brand content, will gain significant traction as marketers realise the power of allowing customers to find them (and their content) themselves via digital channels, usually started by a Google or Bing search. Outbound marketing (advertising/press releases) will promote marketers’ own digital brand content and platforms to motivate customers to seek and find. The challenge for marketers will be their own readiness to provide substantial, professional brand content to satisfy consumers’ varied digital searches for valuable information and entertainment.


Internet radio audiences will be tracked better, leading to a realisation of just how minuscule some “stations” are. Selling internet radio advertising snake oil will therefore become a bit harder.


The integration of social into corporates will accelerate further, led by a larger number of CEOs following in the footstep of social leaders such as FNB’s Michael Jordaan.

In addition, brands and companies will increase the quality of brand content disseminated across social platforms, rather than hoping to use them only as sales channels. In fact, many marketers will realise most social platforms do not sell directly (as opposed to Google search advertising) and they will use these for brand content and deeper engagement. (Properly convincing customers to really like them, rather than just ‘Like’ them.)


Consolidation will continue, with more magazine (and possibly some nich newspaper) closures. Successful, established traditional print media will continue to deliver good profits, but new launches (last two years) and niche titles (without the complete dedication of thoroughly passionate people), will not be able to deliver on inflated launch and business plans. The print market next year will simply be too tough for success without a huge track record (or insane passion).

Strategic communications

Any communications plan without a solid brand content strategy will not find traction. Next year will be the year that marketers will dedicated significant resources to brand content strategy, creation and dissemination. Simply giving away a brand’s own, valuable brand content to external media to “place” will be replaced by companies and brands developing their own brand content channels.

Watch out for the job titles of “chief content officer” and “content director” to start popping up in communications departments (and even in traditional agencies, never shy to miss the latest title on the block).


Sadly, traditional advertising will remain, well, traditional advertising. The vested interests evident in how marketing departments, traditional media and agencies are structured and remunerated will prevent real innovation. The creation of print, television, radio and banner ad digital advertising will largely remain on a stagnant plane of safety.

Sarel du Plesssis: CEO of Out of Home Media South Africa

Digital media

Will continue to grow rapidly and take more revenue from print and other vulnerable media platforms, but will continue to struggle to monetise at the same levels as traditional media.

OOH / out of home

OOH is poised to grow market share during 2013. It offers great value for money and offers great synergy with both TV and print. More media owners will move towards digital applications.

SABC / broadcasting

SABC In trouble, as always, and will require a fresh approach to entice marketers to spend budget with them. Time Shifting on pay channels will require attention as marketers are hesitant to spend money. New entrant to the Afrikaans TV market on the horizon? TopTV to close.


Radio will continue to blossom and offers best value for money when budgets are small.

Social media

Massive further growth with more invasive marketing tactics to de deployed by the big players.

Print media

Will hold on but circulations of daily newspapers to decline further. Community papers will continue to perform well on revenue. Will be interesting to see how the Times Media Group rates linked to core sales will fare, and if other publishers will follow.


Growth of 4% predicted by me, but media inflation will see a negative growth of around 8%.

And in conclusion…

Ryland Fisher: Founder of Ryland Fisher Communications

I believe that 2013 will be the year of social and digital media, which will put more strain on print and broadcast media. We should see a significant increase in broadband availability next year, which should make it easier to access the internet. What will continue to be a feature of internet usage in 2013 is that most people will access it on smartphones and not on PCs, laptops or iPads.

As a newspaper junkie, I believe that newspapers will have to continuously reinvent themselves in order to remain relevant to an increasingly young South African population.