Is modern media out of touch with middle Australia?


In Martin Scorsese’s superb film The Departed, Jack Nicholson’s character – Frank Costello – opens the first scene with the following opening monologue;

I don’t want to be a product of my environment, I want my environment to be a product of me…”

In addition to being a brilliant line and opening scene (with the help of The Rolling Stones) the film delivers a trinity of action, corruption and complex characters. All underpinned by the “ambition at all costs” world set by Frank Costello’s tone in the opening seconds of the film.

This is a world that is not comprehendible to the average person on the street. These are people who view the world in a completely different light to the rest of society. And, if you have seen the film, Frank Costello and his men are certainly the outliers on the spectrum of acceptable moral behaviour.

In statistical terms, an outlier is a data point that significantly doesn’t fit into the group of other data points. It occupies its own territory away from the masses. Essentially, just like Frank Costello, it is an outcast.

It’s important to remember that the majority of middle and lower middle class Australians (known as Middle Australia) is not filled with “media outliers” who divert significantly away from the masses. In fact, the majority of all Australians are reachable in some form of media, and I think it’s important for us to remember that one of the fundamental jobs of media agencies is to identify the role that media plays in people’s lives and turn this information into results for our clients businesses.

Let’s not fall into the trap of becoming blinded by technology advances and therefore out of touch with the core needs of our audiences.

One such technological trap could be the recent changes (and subsequent commentary) regarding the accessibility of ad blocking software on Apple devices. I understand, and completely agree with, why this is a hot topic in our sector; it is at the forefront of how our industry operates and can impact how we can continue to grow our clients businesses’. But I think it will be the outliers in a technological sense (i.e the 1%) that will most relate to and be receptive to actually installing ad blocking software on their devices. Not Middle Australia.

This is because the vast majority of Middle Australia do not view media with the same level of analysis and rigour as we do.

For example;

  • Middle Australia does not consider if the ad they have seen on their favourite news site is a HPTO to launch a campaign.
  • Middle Australia does not consider if the TVC they are seeing in their favourite TV show is a part of a sponsorship that had significant audience analysis and five rounds of responses to ensure the client is getting the most efficient investment possible.
  • Middle Australia does not understand a TARP (why would they!).

Fundamentally; Middle Australia is not concerned with ad blockers, not entirely interested in the changes to programmatic advertising and don’t actually have an opinion on the future of comms planning – and these people are still incredibly important to our industry.

Instead, what these people are concerned with is what classic economics has proven for years – their own self-interest.

That self- interest provides us with the opportunity to remain not only relevant to consumer’s lives, but also to reach them in a meaningful way. It is imperative that we remain abreast of this relevance and appropriately align our media recommendations with the mindset, behaviour and motivators of our audiences and don’t remain in our media ivory towers thinking about how to target the Frank Costello’s of the world.

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