News Media Mirrors Green Advertising

We see or hear hundreds of advertisements a day. Even if you don’t watch TV (or you fast forward through the commercials), they are in newspapers, online, on the sides of buses. . .  You just can’t avoid them.

A study by the Yale Forum compared green advertisements in four magazines between 2005 and 2010 to the news coverage by “prestige” newspapers and the three main networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) during that same time period.

Three of the magazines—The Atlantic, National Geographic, and Time—cover a variety of topics, appeal to a broad readership, and have different publishing cycles. The fourth, the National Review, is a conservative magazine that was thrown in as a possible counterpoint.

The analysis counted the full-page ads in each of these magazines and determined the number of ads that made an environmental claim or pitch. Each ad was further analyzed for key words.

To cut a long study short, news media coverage closely mirrored green advertisements in magazines. Each dramatic spike and drop occurred at the same time.

Here’s what I think:

Magazine advertisements are designed to appeal to the public, but they are also laid out pretty far in advance. Advertisers often have to make or predict the trends.

Credit: The Yale Forum

“An Inconvenient Truth” is released in 2006 and receives public interest. Advertisers notice this in 2006 and incorporate green themes in their 2007 ads. The news media picks up on this and increases their coverage. (Remember that news coverage is current. They don’t have to plan out a story months in advance.)  This accounts for the spike in 2007.

Green advertisements drop in 2008. I think this is because 2008 was an election year and coverage picks up right before the primaries. Advertisers would know this and change their ads accordingly.

What do you think about this study?

You can read the Yale Forum study here.  

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