Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The New Frontier

I've worked in the radio advertising business since 1986 and seen watched the growth of the web as a new media and medium for advertising & branding.

Check out this story from

Technology makes media redundant

Brand (n): a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer. (Source: What do the media have in common with the idea of branding? Unfortunately, not much … yet! The media have long operated under a functional model that is based upon two foundational variables:

Distribution: This is the definition of the term “medium” in the first place. It’s the idea that a medium represents a unique distribution pathway that enables content to flow from its source to an audience.
Audience: The focus here is the medium’s ability to aggregate an unduplicated audience that is highly desirable to marketers.

And, once upon a time and not too long ago, this functional model seemed to work. Historically, media distribution pathways were relatively fixed and a bit more proprietary. Newspaper circulation networks were required to disseminate news to a particular community/market. Network television affiliates were required to broadcast television signals across a coverage area (Designated Market Area). The technology was not particularly friendly to redundant systems.

And audiences selected their medium of choice and spent their time with said medium … usually to the exclusion of others. Media consumption analyses used to illustrate the “sea-saw effect.” If you were a heavy user of one medium, you tended to be a light to non-user of another.

There was no need for the media to become true brands. Branding comes into play when product function is no longer enough. Brands take what are otherwise redundant products or services and make them special. Brands live beyond function, to infuse promises that create emotional bonds between the brand and the consumer.

Well, the time has come. The old model is broken: Any medium that defines its strategy by virtue of either its mechanism for content distribution and/or its ability to aggregate an audience will likely fail. There is nothing proprietary or particularly compelling in distribution pathways or audiences. The media themselves are becoming a commodity.

Thanks to first digital and now wireless (mobile) technologies, new distribution platforms can and will spring up with limited cost or infrastructure required. Much like the human body that can generate a new blood flow when an arterial route becomes clogged, new media will find new distribution pathways to avoid any “clogs” in a metaphorical sense. Distribution pathways are no longer proprietary.

Think about it. Not too long ago, you needed a television set and a microwave relay signal to enjoy a television program. Now? That same program can be distributed over the air, via cable or satellite (live, DVR or on demand), on Hulu or perhaps through the .com version of the network. You could also possibly download the program through iTunes or order up a DVD or video stream from Netflix.

What about newspapers and magazines? You can still get them “on paper” delivered to your door. Or you can still find a newsstand and buy a single copy. But you can also read the e-version on your computer screen. Perhaps you will download an app that lives on your Kindle or your iPad. You can even get versions of this content served to your mobile phone!

What happened to the distribution pathways for music? We used to be limited by the bandwidth of the AM and FM spectrum. Not anymore. Now music travels via satellite and digitally. We can listen on radios, computers, televisions, MP3 players and our mobile phones. The distribution pathway doesn’t matter much anymore. The consumer has multiple choices.

--Judy Franks, The Marketing Democracy This article is an excerpt from her new book "Media: From Chaos to Clarity":

Sphere: Related Content

No comments: