Perception vs. reality in MediaGuardian 100

Yesterday MediaGuardian published its annual Media 100 list, otherwise known as the ‘How many media people can we irritate in one go’ list.  The criteria for inclusion/exclusion and ranking are obscure and idiosyncratic, but the justification is that at least it ‘starts a debate’. Most of all, the list reflects MediaGuardian’s own obsessions, with global technology companies, social media and print editors featuring heavily.  This year Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook ousted Steve Jobs of Apple from the top slot and the Google guys slipped another place.  No-one is safe.  The list isn’t ‘wrong’; how could it be, given it is self-confessedly subjective?

Last year I took some pleasure in explaining how the Top 10 was really dominated by TV on the basis that my subjectivity should be allowed an airing too. Despite being denied a top slot, TV continues to be a rich seam running through it , whether that be actual TV industry people like Peter Fincham Jay Hunt, TV personalities like Jamie Oliver and Simon Cowell, or people whose companies work brilliantly with – and even partially thrive because of – TV (Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Jack Dorsey, Steve Jobs, Paul Dacre…).

In its interactive online guide, Mediaguardian gives each entry a label according to their primary media sector.   The split between the categories does offer another way of looking at how the world of media is composed, using either simple numbers of entries or a weighted points system (1st gets 100 points, 100th gets 1 point etc).  Annoyingly, it uses the term ‘digital media’ when it means internet-based (TV, radio and newspapers are all digital now are they not?), but I shall hold my nose and use their term:

No of entries

% of points




Press and publishing



Digital media (sic)






Media business



Marketing and PR









Jemima Khan (she is in a category of her own)



But what if we try analysing the list using something altogether more objective and robust, such as the IPA’s Touchpoints data? The IPA, the body which represents all advertising agencies, produces the most widely used single source study measuring all media behaviour in the UK in the same way i.e. by the length of time spent with it.  There are many reasons why time spent with a medium is not a wholly satisfactory method of determining media influence, but at least it’s transparent and rational. And it’s given us a bit of fun.

Here’s the actual top 10 most used media according to IPA Touchpoints:

1. Commercial TV = 33%
2. BBC TV =17%
3. BBC Radio =17%
4. Commercial Radio = 9%
5. =  Online surfing/information =5%
5. =  Online communication =5%
7. Newspapers =4%
8. =  Using internet for work =3%
8. =  Other internet use =3%
10. = Online content and media use (ie online TV, radio, newspapers and mags) =2%
10. = Social networking =2%

Yes, I know that TV comes out on top by quite a long way at 50% of people’s media time but I promise that is not the reason for this particular exercise. What is more interesting is some of the howling discrepancies with the MediaGuardian list.  Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Jack Dorsey (Twitter) occupy the no 1 and 2 slots but social networking occupies just 2% of our media time.  Jemima Khan is deemed as important as the whole of radio, yet radio occupies 26% of our media time.

Talking personalities, it seems perverse not to acknowledge that Mark Thompson is undisputedly the most influential person in the UK, with nigh on 40% of our media time spent with the BBC across TV, radio and online. I’m sure he’s relieved that he isn’t in the top spot.  Personally I’m happier knowing that I’m being influenced more by a British organization devoted to quality content than a Californian tech company.

Anyway, just a bit of fun.

  • Tess Alps
    Tess Alps
    Chair, Thinkbox
  • Posted under
You might also like

Planning media in 2022

Join us live at HOME Manchester on Wednesday 21st September to explore the latest data on media consumption and marketing effectiveness.


Highlights from UKTV

W’s Dating with my Mates twists your typical dinner date; Big Zuu's Big Eats returns to Dave; Drama brings a true story from World War 2 to our screens with Passport to Freedom; and CSI: Vegas is new on Alibi.


What to watch on Channel 4

Follow young superstars in Football Dreams. Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is back in Changing Rooms. Alex Brooker tours around the UK in Hobby Man. Alan Carr explores the world of his favourite childhood authors and you can discover the story of Britain’s Secret War Babies.