Diane Mermigas, the editor-at-large of MediaPost and one of the most consistently insightful media analysts in America, has this sobering assessment of the predicament most traditional media operators find themselves in today:
Media companies, like many industries, are placing bets on new technology and business models while their traditional business models are deteriorating. They are increasingly resorting to a variety of new metrics and formulas to track their return on investment. The complexities of tracking traditional revenues under siege and emerging revenues not yet steadied will pose financial accountability problems that will become increasingly evident. Add to that heavy investing in digital infrastructure and the carryover (for some) of costly, increasingly ineffective legacy operations, and media has its own lethal financial squeeze in the making. No way will new digital revenues ramp to replace traditional revenues as rapidly as they are deteriorating. A weakening economy has made advertisers and consumers more conservative about spending money.
Not a pretty picture. I highlight many of these trends in my ongoing Media Metrics series.