Article by Greg Lindsay
Advertising Age  |  November 2010

Ad Age Insights: Global Media Habits 2010

How media is consumed around the world — from mature markets where traditional media use is shrinking to emerging ones eagerly embracing old and new alike.

(From the Introduction. The complete report is available for $249 from

The first thing you should know is that the name of this report is the Global Media Habits survey. While we’ve been obsessed with the carnage in the American and, to a lesser extent, European media markets, for the last couple of years the global media landscape has mirrored the broader economic one–which is to say, developed nations are fragmenting while developing ones are booming across the board. This is as true for television and newspapers (newspapers!) as it is for online video and mobile phones, the latter of which is poised to become the most ubiquitous media device in history.


This bifurcation in media reflects another in the world at large. Not just marketers, but governments (e.g., in Britain, France, Greece, etc.) are slashing budgets and announcing austerity measures while ministers in New Delhi and Beijing (not to mention their corporate counterparts in Mumbai and Shanghai) are calling for massive increases in spending to reach a middle-class consumer who literally did not exist 20, 10 or even five years ago.

In a country like India, for example, two middle classes actually co-exist–a prosperous middle class by any measure (with an average income between that of the typical Brazilian and Italian) and an emerging middle class earning anywhere between $10 and $100 a day per person. The group making up that middle class accounted for one-third of the world’s population in 1990, but 57% by 2006, according to Indian economist Surjit Bhalla. That growth hasn’t been linear. If one graphs the average income of the world’s consumers, the middle earners comprise a large bell curve, while the top 1% and “bottom billion” form long tails on either side. That bell curve is moving en masse into the emerging middle class, creating a media boom in the unlikeliest of places….

About Greg Lindsay

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Greg Lindsay is a generalist, urbanist, futurist, and speaker. He is a 2022-2023 urban tech fellow at Cornell Tech’s Jacobs Institute, where he leads The Metaverse Metropolis — a new initiative exploring the implications of augmented reality at urban scale. He is also a senior fellow of MIT’s Future Urban Collectives Lab, a senior advisor to Climate Alpha, and a non-resident senior fellow of the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Strategy Initiative.

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