Rocky road for media industry

Rocky road for media industry

A man hanging an outdoor advertisement in Bangkok. KRIT PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN
A man hanging an outdoor advertisement in Bangkok. KRIT PROMSAKA NA SAKOLNAKORN

The landscape of the Thai media industry is changing significantly with traditional media, especially the print segment, struggling to survive after the rise of online media.

Traditional media is being forced to make adjustments as digital media attracts more consumers and advertising budgets from brands and companies due to its lower costs.

This has prompted some traditional media -- which appeals to the mass market and ranges from newspapers, magazines, books, TV and radio -- to turn to the digital format.

But even then it is not an easy transformation. One main reason is that the influence of mass media has been fading over the past few years as consumers go to specific media outlets to serve their lifestyles and tastes.

Pirongrong Ramasoota, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University's faculty of communication arts, said the media should focus on segmentation and find their right target audiences. That is a key to survival in a changing world increasingly influenced by digital technology.

"You can't be mass media anymore because consumers are changing. It's quite clear that younger generations are not interested in reading physical newspapers or watching TV on actual television screens. Theirs is a cyberworld and they like to stay connected all the time," she said.

Meanwhile, the older generation prefers more traditional media, although some have also kept up with the times and are keen on digital media.

But what is more crucial to the survival of media is how much advertising it attracts. Ad spending, in turn, is linked to economic growth, consumption and consumer confidence.

Last year, the economic slowdown had a severe impact on the media industry because ad spending on all media outlets fell sharply by 12.5% in the first 11 months, according to Nielsen Co Thailand.

Amid the sharp spending decline in general, online media managed to grow enormously at 63% in the 11-month period. In contrast, spending on cable TV shrank the most by 42.3%, followed by magazines (-30.8%), newspapers (-20.1%) and analogue TV (-18.9%).

The Digital Agency Association (Thailand) said spending on online media has recently grown at a double-digit rates and is forecast to have risen 22% in 2016.

In 2017, the DAAT forecast ad spending on digital media would exceed 10 billion baht, up from 9.88 billion baht expected in 2016.

Meanwhile, media experts agree that print is dying and must adapt to survive.

Several magazines including Ploy Gam Petch, Image, Priew, Lips, SeventeenThailand, Cosmopolitan Thailand, and Sakulthai, one of the oldest and most popular women's magazines, have been gradually closing since 2015. Ban Muang newspaper was shut down on Jan 1.

The shutdown of many magazines and newspapers is a wake-up call for Thai print media to transform, otherwise they will suffer the same fate as their weaker peers.

When looking at ad spending, print media appears to have taken the greatest hit as many magazines and newspapers have closed over the past 2-3 years, having failed to generate enough ad revenue to feed their operations.

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