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22 September 2023

Spotlight on media: Cutting through in the changing media landscape


Bauer media insights 2023

The latest Bauer Media insight report explores changing media consumption, shifting roles of media channels and how brands can cut through an increasingly complex and noisy media landscape. The insight explores the importance of human connections, attention, trust and finding the right tone to tap into shifting consumer needs and attitudes.

The changing media landscape

The current complex media landscape is the result of a decade of change driven by new channels and tech. This transformation means that channel choices are becoming more complex and cutting through is increasingly difficult for advertisers.

However, media consumption continues to increase with both radio listening and social media usage seeing the biggest growth this year, each up 21%.

With most channels offering significant scale, the way that consumers interact with different media becomes as crucial as reach, and radio has the highest levels of interaction with 96% claiming to ever listen.

Media that connects

Human connection is even more vital to cut through all the media noise, which is where radio thrives. 93% of respondents state that radio lifts their mood, with 78% claiming radio is an important part of their sense of identity and 73% reporting that radio helps keep them in the loop with what’s going on in the world.

Magazines have also been shown to play a vital role in lifting mood (92% agree) and giving people a sense of connection in difficult times, with touchpoints across multiple media channels. Magazine brands inform, entertain and inspire consumers and the content meets ever-changing needs in a world where people are connected around the things they love.

Media avoidance and attention

Media avoidance

Nearly half of respondents say they have taken a break from social media with maintaining wellbeing being the key reason for most.

Although pretty much all consumers have some sort of relationship with social media, compared to other media channels, it is not always a particularly healthy relationship. Social media is shown to provide content that can have an unhealthy impact, with consumers trying to find an equilibrium with social media. 1 in 5 claim to monitor their screen time and 1 in 3 say digital media affects their concentration, which is a challenge to advertisers.

Media attention

Gaining advertising attention in a world of digital avoidance and distraction has never been more difficult, as people are exposed to more than 5000 advertising messages a day. It can result in cognitive overload and increase stress and anxiety. Due to this, brands need to ensure that their advertising isn’t contributing to the already overwhelming amount of information – this can be done by placing ads in environments where advertising is welcomed and noticed.

Attention across the audioverse (including podcasts, radio and music streaming) outperforms all visual media more cost-efficiently, as research found that audio advertising drove significant attention compared to other ad platforms (56% greater attentiveness scores and +8% greater brand recall versus norms**). In fact, radio advertising has better ad attention than social media, with consumers paying 25% more attention to radio ads than to social media ads*, and receive twice the attention as streaming services such as Spotify*.

Media and trust

Trust issues have been exacerbated by accelerated digital change. Being able to trust media is vital, yet over half of UK advertising budgets are spent on digital and social channels which are not seen as trustworthy.

An estimated £16bn will be spent on digital display and SEO in 2023 – 42% of UK advertising budgets – but over half of UK consumers find it difficult to trust information online. Similarly, 19% of advertising budgets are allocated to social media channels (£6.8bn) yet over 60% find it difficult to trust information on these platforms.

Radio however is still seen as the most trustworthy media channel (64%), yet audio advertising only represents 2% of UK advertising spend.

Brand tone

During the cost-of-living crisis it’s more important than ever to keep brands front of mind in the right way. 58% of those surveyed think that it is important to still hear from brands during the economic crisis, but  91% think it is important that advertisers don’t come across as taking advantage of current situations.

Advertising can help uplift the mood of the nation, with 56% expecting advertising to be humorous (where appropriate) and 64% want advertising to be positive and uplifting. The study also shows that brands need to be transparent and demonstrate what they are doing for customers to be perceived positively – 86% agree that it is now more important than ever for brands to deliver on their promises.


*YouGov Advertising attention tracker July 2023/**Magnetic x Mediacom harnessing intentional attention study 2021

**Source: Dentsu/Lumen Attention Economy Study 2023: Combined media attention result summaries

Methodology data in this report was gathered through the Bauer Media insiders panel between 26th June and 7th July 2023 with comparisons to data gathered in December 2022. The data has been weighted to be nationally representative, with a sample size of 799 for survey one and 979 for survey two.