April 13, 2010

I Want My HGTV: To Watch It, Read It, Click It, Be In It!


Media Multiplication

By Gene DeWitt

It occurred to me recently that each medium is now becoming all media. What I mean to say is that divergence and convergence have become obsolete as concepts since:

1. Magazines have become TV networks (HGTV, National Geo, Oprah, Martha Stewart) and, with the advent of video streaming, it will become de rigeur for every magazine, from Ad Age to Vogue, to have its own global television "network". Of course, a magazine without a website is a rarity and many podcast as well a vcast. Adage.com has a larger audience than its print parent!


2. Television networks have become magazines (ESPN, Discovery Channel).

3. Radio stations are becoming global via the net, potentially dwarfing the much ballyhooed satellite radio distributors. Is there a "Howard Stern Magazine" in our future?

4. Newspapers of course have also followed this trend, with The New York Times offering podcasts, vcasts as well as nearly instantaneous news updates.

The bottom line: as technological and economic barriers to media creation have come down, it has become quite easy and cost efficient for the media to transcend their traditional territories and to branch out into virtually every other form.


Where does this lead? To a great deal of additional and ongoing fragmentation of the media, to a point where individuals can and will launch their own media networks; isn't this what file sharing and community sites are at least partially about?

What does this mean for media marketers? I think that advertising interceptions will have to occur at another level entirely, most likely via some sort of technological interruption to the media experience. The best example that I can think of now is the way many streaming video sites require the user to view a brief ad before the chosen stream begins. In other words, if you want to see the content, you'll have to view the ad. Sounds like a familiar business model, no?


What does this mean for advertisers, media planners and media buyers? Multiple creative platforms---audio, video, net/print---will be directed to homogeneous audiences which may not be able to 'TiVo' their way past the ads. Sounds like a best of all worlds scenario, particularly if we make the marketing material relevant and useful or entertaining to the audience.


The challenge for agencies will be the cost effective development of creative materials for multiple platforms and a variety of distinct audiences. Since the cost of creative development has not come down with the cost of media entry, it will be necessary for us to find new ways to develop this creative. My guess is that the media will have to help the agencies a bit here, with greater media involvement in the ad development process. There have already been a few important forays into this area from such giants as Time Warner and Clear Channel. I don't doubt we'll see more of this in the future as the media scramble to sell ads on all of their new venues. We'll see. Happy new year!


Gene DeWitt is chairman of DeWitt Media Options. He can be reached at Gene_DeWitt@yahoo.com

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