The media landscape is changing …

Ben Shepherd writes: A guaranteed way to break the cliche-o-metre is to start a presentation with the line ‘The Media Landscape is changing’

It’s a way agencies and publishers try and preface a presentation which seeks to tell an audience that everything has changed, people are consuming media completely differently and stick with us because we have all the answers in this time of change.

Y’know, the media landscape has been changing FOREVER … it’s not a new thing, media has always evolved and will continue to.

The digital world (of which I am a part of) has probably leaned a little too much on the idea of everything changing.

Yes, the concept of a media gatekeeper who controls information is no longer valid … but there is, and will always be, wide demand for professional content. And advertisers will always look to associate themselves with trusted media brands – digital or otherwise.

Yet the doomsayers will come out and say ‘no one trusts the media anymore’, ‘no one watches ads’ and the like – with some sort of half baked data to support it.

Most of these ‘landscape is changing’ pitches are just that, pitches. It’s the marketing director who is being pitched. Tell people that everything is changing, marketing has evolved and you’ve missed the boat and that your consumers are no longer actually listening to you. Back it up with some data sourced from wherever (slideshare, twitter, the air …) that back up this scenario and add a sense of urgency.

One thing I have noticed from my 9 years in digital is that change generally happens a lot slower than you anticipate it to. It’s not technology that is the cause, consumers take time. 11 years ago when I was at uni I did telemarketing for Bigpond Cable Internet (I sold 200mb monthly d/l caps for around $100 pm) … and one of the selling points was that in the next 2 years the video shops would close and we’d all be pumping new movies through our internetting. 2 things stand out to me here – you couldn’t pipe down a feature length film at good quality for 200mb … and 11 years on this still hasn’t happened even though technologically it’s possible.

The media landscape is evolving … it’s not a revolution. Here’s 4 myths of the changing media landscape

1. People trust people more than the media. No shit … they always have and always will. Is this a new phenomenon? Hardly … WOM has always been powerful, it’s only now technology has allowed for people to track this and has created an industry where people can ‘monitor the dialogue’ as a service. This doesn’t make media outlets irrelevant.

2. Traditional media/banner ads/push comms don’t work. Again, this is a sweeping statement that is generally never quantified. In some instances it could be true, in others completely untrue. Isn’t the role of marketers to use the most appropriate media channels to achieve the best result for the challenge? Dismissing ‘traditional’ media outlets is as close minded and ridiculous as dismissing social media – it shows you have a fear for something you probably don’t understand. In regards to banners, in my day job we’ve conducted 4 brand studies and found conclusive correlation between targeted, relevant display media and incremental upward shifts in awareness, consideration, advocacy and recall.

3. Brands must become storytellers. Personally I can’t wait for next story from ‘Draino’ or ‘Sacs Table Salt’. Ok, I’m being facetious … but just becuase Nike and starbucks have pulled off some marketing initiative that blurs the line between CRM and events and data collection doesn’t mean everyone can even if they have the best self appointed agency experts working for them. Again, some brands can utilise this approach to get some results … but the idea of brands being peoples friends … please, give people some credit. I think this reeks of self importance more than anything. I don’t want to be a friend with brands, all I want is a quality product. Maybe that’s me …

4. I am the media. Lots of mixed data on this however the term ‘content sharer/creator etc’ is one that is generally taken out of context massively.

Dr Jeffrey Cole came out earlier in the year to present some of his findings – which were interesting. Content sharing can be as simple as emailing an attachment, or sending a url through messenger. This is often misinterpreted that a content sharer is actively out there producing and generating content … but when you look at the stats it’s a lot different. Of AU Internet users, only 4% update their blog monthly or more frequently, only 5% have uploaded a video, only 25% have uploaded a photo, 24% are using file sharing tools, 17% have ever downloaded a podcast and 8% are playing role playing games (ie WOW etc) online. These are small numbers when you stack them up with other channels online and offline. In this market scale is a factor – what is the resource vs reward trade off in using these?

What Cole’s data showed was that digital compliments and enhances the other variables in the media mix – it doesn’t replace them. The media landscape is changing yes, but it’s an evolution. Sure, over time these areas will become more important, but right now and for the foreseeable future TV/radio/magazines are still important and the unanswered billion dollar question is what is the best way to tie all these together.

One are where Cole I think missed the boat was his explanation of how 12-24 yo’s were consuming media. He said this audience …

– Will never read a newspaper but attracted to some magazines
– Will never own a land-line phone (and maybe not a watch)
– Will not watch television on someone else’s schedule much longer
– Trust unknown peers more than experts
– For first time willing (2005) to pay for digital content. Never before.
– Little interest in the source of information and most information aggregated.
– Community at the center of Internet experience
– Think not interested in advertising or affected by brand, but wrong.
– Everything will move to mobile
– Television dominates less than any generation before
– Want to move content freely from platform to platform with no restrictions
– Want to be heard (user generated)
– Use IM. Think e-mail is for their parents

Myself and my colleague have re-presented this to over 300 advertising students between 18-23 in the past 3 months and their sentiment was this was a little over amplified – especially around magazines, mobile and TV programming. I’m not saying Dr. Cole is wrong, it’s just in the groups we asked they had a different opinion.

My point is here is there needs to be a little bit of calm. Stop using ‘the media landscape is changing’ as a selling tactic. Marketing Managers don’t want to be told by some punk agency that everything they know is wrong and the collective intelligence of the department generated over years and years is irrelevant. It comes across as smug and self important.


5 responses to “The media landscape is changing …

  1. I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work 🙂

  2. Hello

    Lot here.

    Generally I am pretty impressed by the media buyer here.

    That said, I can’t help but go back to the question of who really cares about our new young adults aged 18-24.

    They shape the views of other 18-24 year olds. I dont see many people in their 40s or above in hoodies because this segment of society is only relevant to themselves:)

    But otherwise Shepeherd, there is merit in what you write.

  3. heya

    ok i was down with everything up until

    “Brands must become storytellers” cliche

    yes, it is a bit of a cliche but i think that Draino still NEEDS to advertise

    No, they might not use Tiger Woods but they still should try to tell a story……..

    what is the difference between Nike and Draino?

    at the end of the day they are both trying to sell a product.

    and both do branding

    brands need to communicate value and USPs to create differentiation

    by telling a story effectively you can communicate that differentiation more effectively than by simply pushing ads in catalogs

    i think that its “brands must” and not “products must” for a reason.

    branding is what people feel about a brand or product and therefore something that cannot be achieved unless it has somehow been communicated either by marketing or WOM

    Bar of Soap = Not Sexy

    Dove Campaign for Real Beauty = Adding Value to Women through its self esteem fund

    storytelling is an effective form of communication. to say that there are brands out there that shouldnt because they are merely bought because of functionality is too general

    why did you use Draino as an example over a generic brand? is it because you remembered them either through advertising or word of mouth?

    if you just saw it on the shelves did you notice that there are a million “like” products.

    This is why brands need to create differentiation.

    just because its a mundane product doesnt mean it doesnt deserve clever advertising

    look at louie the fly

    i cant name any other insect repellent but i remember louie

  4. BTW

    apart from my rant about storytelling

    this was a really good point about how the media landscape is not really changing; more evolving and has always done so.

    also good point about technology. in most cases, technology isnt the barrier in one way or the other its usually people

  5. You make some great points. There are many aspects of the standard “the media world is changing” that is passé, overused and as you point out, not completely true.

    That being said, technology, the internet, new applications, new media environments are definitely impacting our lives at an ever increasing rate. Your right, the change is perhaps not as fast as some predict however it is also faster than some hope and it is definitely happening much faster than the average corporate is geared up to deal with.

    I think that the main point that many larger organisations still fail to acknowledge is that it is not the change that is the problem, rather the speed of it that will impact their ability to sustain growth and momentum in a highly competitive market. I believe that it is the escalation of the pace of change that is the biggest challenge not what those changes are.

    For example:

    Your average IT deployment can range from 2 – 5 years. A good IT department will have a 10 year plan…meanwhile, technology developments are moving at a much faster pace. If you spend 6 months procuring a CRM system 6 months deploying it and then another 6 months gathering data before it is effectual, you better hope like hell that the company you bought it from are building add on’s that incorporate the latest social media inputs that you need to create the “single customer view” they promised by the time you have finished putting the system into play.

    It takes the average board three meetings (or at least 3 quarters) to approve any significant investment/directional change, if this change is fundamental to their business development strategy, it will probably take longer. If this change involves incorporating customer feedback into product development processes to shore up a fundamental supply chain issue, this is too long.

    The average marketing campaign in a large corporate takes about 6 months to get live., social media campaigns, often take longer due to the legal complications. If the campaign is reliant at leveraging the latest site that is “in vouge” again, you are screwed before you get out of the starting gate since the fickle nature of social media may make your target site inapplicable by the time you get the idea to market (or at a very minimum, how you approach it may have changed).

    While I agree that the sensationalist headlines are overused and there is a general lack the foundation to back them up, I do think that many major cooperates face significant challenges in how their organisations operate to deal with a changing environment when the speed of that change is the issue…not the change itself

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