PHD Perspectives: Media Trends: the Convergence of Divergence - Sonya Svaty
Published: February 28, 2011 at 07:29 PM GMT
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Last Updated: February 28, 2011 at 07:29 PM GMT
By Sonya Svaty
Ah, it's that time of year when I start to pull together my annual media landscape and trends presentation. It used to be that I had to bribe people with a big catered lunch to stay in the room for this presentation, but the good news is that exciting changes in the industry make it one of the better attended and eagerly anticipated meetings. Conversely, it makes the media presentation more like the creative in that there is no shortage of people out there willing to offer their suggestions – a Google search on "advertising trends 2011" yields 2.6 million results just between October and December 2010. This is slightly down versus the same search with year ago inputs, when about 2.7 million were willing to try to help me.
So where to start with so much input?
Perhaps if I narrow the search to "media trends"? Doesn't help – the number actually goes up to about 60 million, but maybe I can find out what people are talking about by taking words out.
If I take out the word social, the number goes down to 45 million. And if I take out mobile and video, the first working entry I get is web design trends, followed by fashion and jewelry trends, so it might fairly reasonable to assume that those three words cover the bulk of what's exciting in the media landscape.
I don't think anybody would argue with that. What's interesting is their convergence. One of the biggest usages of mobile is social networking, and while mobile video usage remains fairly small, it's growing rapidly.
The convergence is making it harder and harder to sort out media types – for example, if I watch an episode of Desperate Housewives on ABC.com, is that digital or television? If I read an issue of Time magazine on my iPad, is that digital or print? As I'm writing my trends piece, I'm having a difficult time categorizing things like the usage of social media on mobile phones (social media or mobile?), or the increasing penetration of internet-connected television (television or internet?).
It's hard to tell which came first – the demand that's making these trends leading topics of conversation or the technology making them possible. Most likely, the demand was always there. Humans have been wanting to connect with each other ever since the first caveman painted the directions to the next woolly mammoth hunt on the first cave wall.
I'm probably dating myself talking about cavemen (you mean there was a time we could plan media without the internet?). But I do remember a time before the internet became mainstream, and I do remember article after article in the trade press touting the death of television because of DVRs. Oh no, Chicken Little, the sky is falling.
But don't get out your umbrella just yet, Chicken Little – according to Nielsen, we're watching more television and consuming more content than ever before. DVRs? People with DVRs watch even more primetime. Me included. If sent to a desert island, I would have a hard time choosing to pack food or my DVR. People outside the business are astounded: "Aren't you in advertising? Shouldn't you watch ads?" No, I think of it as the media planner's job to figure out how to get to me despite my wily ways. And believe me, it can be done. I still watch Law & Order SVU reruns on the weekend, still read my favorite news weeklies, and have accidentally gotten myself addicted to Angry Birds on my smartphone. I'm sure most of the rest of us are the same (although maybe not the Angry Birds part) – and we certainly aren't going to be willing to pay for all that content any time soon.
So it creates a paradox of needing a specialized knowledge as each media type (mobile, search, display, social) gets more complicated, while at the same time, needing an overview of each to determine how to fit the puzzle pieces together to create an integrated marketing approach to the consumer. Being on the strategy team, I feel more and more like the impact on the media profession can be compared to what's happening in the medical profession – I'm a strategist, the general practitioner with an overall understanding, but the specialists (network, online, mobile, search investment teams) are called in when things get complicated.
So there, at least, is one trend for me to throw my opinion among the million already in the ring – the convergence of media and the resulting divergence of generalists and specialists on the media team as it gets increasingly more complicated to reach those wily consumers.
Sonya Svaty, Group Director of Strategy at PHD Media, a Division of Omnicom. Sonya can be reached at Sonya.Svaty@phdnetwork.com.
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