Canadian news consumers favour TV, print and radio over new media

Traditional media is alive and doing well in Canada despite the ever growing pervasiveness of online alternatives, according to a recent survey.

Television, newspapers and the radio are the medium of choice – at least for “accurate news” – of the majority of local consumers, according to a study commissioned by the Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC), a nationwide organization that identifies issues affecting the IT industry.

The National Media Choice and Trust Poll conducted by IDC Canada revealed that 95 per cent of Canadian relies on traditional media for general news and an estimated 82 per cent turn to these distribution channels for breaking news.

“The message is clear for marketers. Don’t forget about TV, radio, newspapers and magazines when you consider advertising,” said Lawrence Surtees, vice-president of communication research for IDC Canada.

There is a shift in viewing behaviour and marketing expenditures but “the existing media is not yet ready to go the way of the Dodo bird,” Surtees, a former journalist, said.

Much of the older media’s strength lies in the people’s perception of its trustworthiness, the professionalism of its practitioners and the quality of its content, he said.

“Canadian are very tech savvy but also staunch traditionalists,” said Bernard Courtois, president of ITAC.

He pointed out that while the survey revealed conventional news channels maintain a strong hold on Canadians, there is an increasing adoption of Web-based media.

More than 65 per cent on Canadian households have high speed Internet access, 42 per cent access some form of online media for general news and 21 per cent of respondents turn to online sources for breaking news.

“Online media is definitely where the eyeballs are going,” Courtois said.

The survey also indicated that larger families tend to access and trust online media more than smaller families and almost 50 per cent of Canadians aged 18 to 24 are likely to obtain information online.

Credibility, Courtois said, remains a major challenge for online news. Only 11.5 per cent of the respondents believe that online media is unbiased and jus 12 per cent believe online media is accurate.

Surtees said older media sources have built a tradition of trust and quality that is backed by a large talent pool of professionals highly trained for their work. “The emerging media is just beginning to develop its own professionals.”

As a result, most high profile online news sources are linked to traditional media outfits. “The successful traditional organizations realized that they can bring their content online to reach more consumers.”

“Rather than shrink the market, the introduction of Web-based technology has expanded the pie,” Surtees said.

Such a strategy is also being employed by The Shopping Channel (TSC), Canada’s popular consumer television show that sells an assortment of goods via TV.

TSC is highly successful on the tube, but it also developed an online presence to increase exposure and revenue, said Michael LeBlanc, marketing director of the Mississauga, Ont-based company.

“We have an overall sales or over $300 million. About 75 per cent can be attributed to TV and the other 25 per cent to online sales,” LeBlanc said.

The TSC TV show is popular among buyers aged 45 and above while TSC online is frequented by a younger audience.

“In the context of shopping, trust has a lot to do with the success of TSC. Our customers want to be assured that what they see on TV is what they’re paying for,” he said.

Exposure on TSC also benefits vendors who sell their products via retail stores. “Sony, LG and Smashbox (cosmetic products) tend to experience a bump in their retail sales when their products are featured on our show.”

New software products also allow advertisers to gauge the exposure and success that online marketing campaigns are garnering.

He said advertisers are increasingly moving towards new media “because they offer the advantage of accountability and measurability.”

“Despite this, advertisers shouldn’t discount traditional media because it continues to play a big role in the industry,” he said.

For some organizations, dividing advertising and marketing budget among different outlets rather than putting their money in one basket is the ideal solution, according to the TSC executive.

He said companies should conduct a study to determine who their clients are and where they can be found and then craft a marketing strategy based on this knowledge.

For instance, auto manufacturer General Motors continues to buy print ads but also employs an extensive online marketing campaign for models aimed at younger drivers.

“The key is to determine the right combination of tools available at your disposal,” LeBlanc said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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