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Yes, the concept of a media gatekeeper who controls information is no longer valid … but there is, and will always be, wide demand for professional content.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.