Media Complication Continues to Confuse Brands

Media fragmentation and media multiplication makes for media complication.

Traditional ways to advertise include the five traditional media — TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and outdoor (billboards). The popularity of the Internet has added a sixth media channel (online advertising) to the mix. Only 25 years ago there were three major TV networks. There was an era when advertising during prime time on those three networks could reach 80% of the households in the US. Back then, most households got a newspaper delivered to their doorstep every day. The University of Southern California now reports that 80% of Internet users (age 17 and older) consider the Internet to be an important source of information — higher than television (68 percent), radio (63 percent), and newspapers (63 percent). Hence, newspaper subscription numbers are dropping. In the last 25 years the number of magazines has gone the other way; it has doubled. Instead of general, broad-appeal magazines like Life and Reader’s Digest, today’s magazines focus their editorial toward specific audience interest. Now there are three different national magazines dedicated to crocheting that we can all subscribe to. Now, homes with a satellite dish can receive hundreds of channels. Cable homes don’t get that many, but the options are plenty. With satellite radio, iPods®, video games, Netflix® and Blockbuster®, the American public simply has a lot more home entertainment options that involve consuming media without advertising.Old TV watching

At the same time advertisers are having a hard time getting noticed by consumers, brands are having a harder time standing apart in the marketplace. It’s more competitive than ever for brands. The relative cost to bring a product to market continues to drop. Distribution is relatively easier and cheaper than ever so it’s easy for regional brands to expand into new territories. It is cheaper today to simply knock-off a successful product as compared to designing and engineering a totally new one. This phenomenon creates low product differentiation among competitors. There are more and more product options for consumers. Visit a super market and count the brand options for basic things like mayonnaise and ketchup (or catsup). Stroll down the aisle to salad dressing and the options can be overwhelming. The options for beverages (sodas, juices, beer and wine) are mind blowing. The marketplace today is full of competitors having a harder time communicating with consumers.

Meanwhile the scope for common people to communicate has grown enormously. Just twenty years ago if a company wanted to tell a million people about their product, they used one of the traditional media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, etc.). There were only a few people who had access to these media because the cost was too high for the average citizen to afford it. So if a normal citizen wanted to tell a lot of people about something without spending a fortune, they could write a letter to the editor or post a sign along a busy street, but that was about it. With the Internet, people have recently been given the tools to easily communicate with millions of other people.

Citizen communicators now have an unlimited reach, and the time needed to create communications is now just seconds. People can communicate on things they experience within moments. By using a cell phone, citizen reporters send news around the world as it happens — stories, photos and video.  Disgruntled customers can air their grievances within moments of a dispute. And, happy customers can share their stories as they happen.

There is a clear change happening in media. There are new ways for companies to communicate with consumers, for consumers communicate with companies, and for consumers to communicate with other consumers. Media evolution or revolution; media democratization or saturation; media fragmentation or multiplication? It doesn’t matter. What matters is that changes in media mean changes in conversations.

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One Response

  1. This blog’s great!! Thanks :).

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