BREAKING NEWS & VIEWS
Analysis: Mass Media, Magazine Influence Continue Declines
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Peer-to-peer authority is replacing mass media on all fronts. As information sources, family and friends’ advice rose from 44% to 47% as an information source, while coworker advice went from 23% to 30%.
The flight from top-down authority in the information value chain is clearest in online usage. Virtually every P2P category of interactivity, most notably blogs and social networks, exploded in their use and influence, the 1,000 U.S. respondents in this survey showed.
Consumer Usage of Online Media (% of U.S. Consumers Using)
The Erosion of Search
This research reveals a number of important trends that affect print media brands both on- and offline. While incremental, the slight falloff of search engine dependence was predicted by some farsighted analysts years ago. As social media mechanisms advance online, people will find the information they want and like more through one another than through a cold start at a search box, the theory goes. Yahoo understood this better than Google, which continues to suspect that any problem can be solved if you throw the right algorithm at it. Yahoo started making investments in social search technologies, P2P answer engines and media sharing properties. While Yahoo’s insight into the future of the market never paid off in a new kind of search engine, as it had hoped, it was moving toward a world where P2P was a new kind of everyday search. This possible shift in usage bodes well for content providers, because it puts more emphasis on the social media ecosystem, where people find content through one another via social networks or pass-alongs.
D2C End Run
The uptick in company Web sites, email blasts and the shopping engine all conform to another trend toward disintermediating traditional media. Companies seem to be successfully speaking more directly to consumers via digital channels. Now more than ever, traditional media companies have the opportunity to enable rather than fight this trend with custom publishing and microsite development. The Internet made publishers of us all, from readers to advertisers, and so the authority of traditional media are being chipped at from both ends of the value chain.
The Underwhelming Power of Emerging Media?
For all of the hype, trendy platforms like podcasting, RSS feeds and mobile media appear to be crawling toward mainstream use, with surprisingly little growth in the past two years. Don’t be fooled by the raw data, however. When the online audience is sliced down to the 10% to 15% who are deemed “most influential” (initiate change in their communities), the picture of emerging platform changes dramatically. Among influencers, 19% use videocasts, 15% use RSS, 12% use podcasting and 9% use mobile media. Emerging media is not just for the “early adopter,” but for the change agents. Communicating via these channels may have a larger effect than the overall data shows.
Professional content continues to have authority and a role in people's media lives, but it has to be ready to speak and position itself as a part of a larger conversation. Social syndication tools, journalist blogs and email remain powerful tools for publishers. But just as appointment television is becoming a relic of last century's mass media model, all forms of content will need to move into evolving usage paths.
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