Speaking from the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, he said that advertising revenues for traditional media will not bounce back with a recovery. Indeed he called this a “reset” and not a recovery, as this implies that things return to as they were.
The only question is how long print has got according to his arguments: as little as 10 years. He argued that within this period all content will be consumed digitally.
Ballmer was unable to say how traditional media could cope in maintaining its current advertising revenue nor could he actually give a model of how digital could make substantial profits, bar a reference to Google.
It is a big statement, especially as his predecessor Bill Gates’ record with the Internet hardly matches up to his record with software. And Ballmer gave no idea of how things might actually work in future, it all seems a little “attention grabbing” and “we have heard this all before.”
Where is the insight from the managing director of Microsoft?
There is no doubt that newspapers and magazines are facing challenging times and that some will not survive, but some of this must surely be down to the recession.
I believe Ballmer is in part right: print media is going to have to think long and hard, as is digital. But the thing about predictions is they are often wrong, especially if you make them as absolutes. Thankfully I am not in the prediction game.
Yes, print media is facing unprecedented challenges and will need to adapt – it might be much reduced in size within a few years. Yes, some print and digital will disappear as the environment changes but I would be surprised if newspapers are not with us at all in 10 years.
As one of the comments left (and this is one of the polite ones) from MediaFace says: “I’m prepared to place a hefty wager with Mr Balmer that I will still be buying newspapers on a Sunday. Along with a good few million others.”