Friday, 6 November 2009

Print Won't Die, But It Will Shrink Dramatically

In a post I put up Wednesday I was horrified to see a legacy media guy promoting the idea of increasing the number of ads on Internet TV sites like Hulu to make them more 'financially viable'.  Of course that would be the answer to migrating the broadcast 'push marketing' model to the Internet, but as most insightful people in our business realize, to do so would be both unscrupulous and unsuccessful since today's empowered consumers, through their behaviour online and through zapping, are demonstrating that frequency is dead and that they will no longer tolerate 'push' tactics.

Today AdAge.com has a 3 min clip up of Martin Sorrell of WPP in which he points out that many newspapers and magazines, in light of the proliferation of identical content online, have to die off (consolidate) if the remaining few are ever to become profitable again (too much supply, too little demand both from readers and advertisers today).  We've already seen this happening online since the dawn of the technology.  Thousands of sites have failed without much uproar, the distinct difference being start-ups vanishing versus revered, established firms doing the same (e.g. Gourmet).

He presages what is coming, saying the lines between advertising and editorial will continue to blur as 'pull marketing' starts to change the way marketing works, strategically (no, it's not yet clear what this is going to mean -- see my post re: "An Experience Designer's Perspective" from yesterday for a clue).  What is most significant about what he's saying is that, like the demise of an entire swath of executive's jobs disappearing in the music industry, with an unlimited (as far as we can tell at the moment) amount of new channels or emerging media becoming available to consumers, many of the old channels HAVE TO die off -- the laws of supply and demand haven't mysteriously stopped applying.  Print will never die, but it will shrink significantly.

This means, of course, that many, many execs in the "legacy" broadcast TV business will be forced to learn a new business.  Not simply a new business model, but a brand new slant on their familiar business.  (See my post re: Hulu for one non-broadcast exec who is trying to reinvent TV.)  Of course the same thing has been the case for the ex-music guys and is also proving to be the case for dinosaur agency folks.

But what this says for the future of the marketing industry is that the 'ice age' I'm always talking about is going to lead to changes far more dramatic, sudden and violent than even the effects of the current economic downturn.  I dislike being glum, but think about it...
  • We have literally thousands of new websites, and mobile sites, popping up every day with new content.  
  • We have smartphones moving everyone, literally globally, into mobile Internet access in the coming months, not years.  
  • We have instantaneous translation into every language in the world about to become reality (so it won't matter where the content originated).  
  • Wireless Internet 'tablets', the Kindle and other 'digital readers/book devices' are going to become ubiquitous and will make reading online content even more user-friendly.  
  • We'll soon be using our mobile devices to instantly purchase things we see in ads (invest in global overnight courier firms).  
  • Due to all of the above, fully addressable advertising (never having to watch ads that are irrelevant to you ever again, and not having to watch any ad more than a few times) is almost here.
  • We have major marketers shifting the way that they advertise, flocking into the content generation business.  
Who is going to watch/read/pay for legacy media?  Old people?  Late adopters?  Sure, the majority still will use legacy media in sufficient numbers to keep each medium viable for some time, but as the wave of change surges forward in the coming months (not years), what businesses are inevitably going to go bankrupt overnight as their formerly loyal users simply disperse?

It is a bit overwhelming, but those who embrace change in a bear hug are going to survive while those clinging to the sinking ship aren't.  We've already figured out Marketing 2.0, "the Social Media Revolution" -- it's all about 'pull' and interaction, listening to and engaging consumers in our branding efforts and providing REAL value in all our marketing efforts.

What's next for marketing?  Marketing's future...
  • Will involve semantic searching (artificial intelligence).
  • Deeper and longer lasting 'brand experiences'. 
  • It will mean a much more tightly connected relationship between the sales force and marketing department.
  • The future will see marketers incentivizing agencies with fees and commissions for their creative IP. 
  • It will mean a shift in agency mentality from "we design/create new campaigns" to "we develop new brand business models".
  • Plus a lot of other new stuff we can't predict just yet.  
(Book my seminar for your team -- I help marketers embrace what's coming next and lead from the front!)

Watch Martin Sorrell's clip here:

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