There is a significant cultural shift occurring in how people use media for entertainment, news, and information. Many traditional media outlets, such as newspapers and major commercial television networks, are seeing their customer base eroded by the emergence of new media outlets. The internet and mobile apps have become the principal drivers of this change. In particular, a number of valuable applications tied to the internet and mobile communication are creating new media outlets and drawing the attention of many, mostly younger, consumers. A few examples include:
- Social Media – Possibly the most significant example of how media usage is changing can be seen with the rapid expansion of social media. Social networking outlets, such as Facebook and Twitter, not only offer a venue for social exchange but also, for a growing number of people, these outlets are becoming principle sources for obtaining news and information.
- User Generated Video Sites – In large part due to the popularity of YouTube, what now qualifies as video media has changed. Now anyone can produce videos and post for the world to see. The result is that advertising choices for video production is no longer limited to television programs as marketers can present their ads as part of online video.
- Small Screen Video – While accessing video content over the internet through computers linked to high-speed data networks is common, the streaming of video over wireless networks to small, handheld devices, including smartphones, is rapidly growing. Many television networks now offer mobile apps that make its programming available in formats suitable for small screen viewing. These new formats also provide marketers with new advertising opportunities. With the number of small screen devices continuing to grow rapidly, it is likely this format for advertising will eclipse larger screen advertising within the next few years.
- Mobile Apps – In addition to television networks benefiting from ads viewed within mobile apps, ads on smartphones and tablets are offering rich new ground for all advertisers. In fact, continual improvement in mobile device performance and network data speeds are opening the door for marketers to present advanced advertisements, including “in app” video ads.
- Podcasting – Many journalists, industry experts, celebrities, bloggers, and others produce regular audio or video programs (i.e., episodes) that are freely downloadable and playable on computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices. This form of online entertainment has grown steadily in the last few years and provides many advertising opportunities.
- Online Gaming – While gaming systems have been around for some time, gaming accessible over information networks is still evolving. As internet and mobile network connections increase in speed, gamers are expected to shift away from games loaded on their local computer and, instead, access games online. This shift is opening new territory for advertisers by enabling marketers to insert special content, including product advertising, within game play.
For marketers, these evolving technologies should be monitored closely as they become accepted alternatives to traditional media outlets. As these technologies gain momentum and move into mainstream acceptance, marketers may need to consider shifting advertising spending away from more traditional outlets (e.g., television, print, website, etc.) and toward the newer media options.
Marketers should also be aware that new media outlets will continue to emerge as new applications are developed. The bottom line for marketers is they must stay informed of new developments and understand how their customers are using these outlets in ways that may offer advertising opportunities.