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The Great Outdoors

(October 2008) posted on Thu Oct 30, 2008

Out-of-home's growth has no end in sight.

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By Stephen Freitas

This trend is made even more apparent as ways to avoid advertising multiply. DVRs (digital video recorders), which are already in more than 20 percent of US households according to many analysts, are short-circuiting television commercials as consumers now have the option of simply fast forwarding through ads. Satellite radio, with a business model based on subscribers, offers a commercial-free alternative to traditional radio. The combination of factors is significantly reducing the way traditional media reach consumers. Changing American habits are also contributing to the decline. Newspapers, once a necessary part of most American’s routine, are declining. Circulation is down for most of the major US dailies. The venerable Sunday edition of The New York Times has seen a drop in circulation of nearly nine percent this year alone. Clearly, the Internet is having an impact on media. News-reading habits are shifting online. The Internet is still experiencing growth in advertising dollars and choices, but the fragmentation there is high. While flagship websites, such as the aforementioned Times, see hits in the hundreds of thousands or even millions, it’s still difficult to reach a target audience with banner ads and pop-ups. Additionally, the way Americans spend their time has changed over the last 10 to 15 years. Commutes are getting longer. As real-estate prices rose in nearby communities, the "exurbs" became more popular places to live. While a 15-minute commute was once common, commutes of an hour or more are now the norm for millions of people. Mass-transit ridership is up, as Americans attempt to mitigate rising gas prices. Health-conscious consumers are choosing to bike or walk.