It’s plain to see that the media landscape is changing. Newspapers are rarely read on paper anymore. Listening to music on the radio instead of streamed over the internet seems outdated, and “Stranger Things 2,” the hottest show on television, never hit the airwaves either.
Have we turned a corner? Is new media ruling the omnichannel?
Eye to Eye with Goliath
Digital advertising spend reached par with TV ad sales for the first time ever last year, “with both generating $68 billion, a market share of 38.5 percent.” Facebook alone made $9.1 billion in advertising revenue in just the first three quarters of 2016, more than old media titans Disney (ABC, ESPN) or Comcast (NBCUniversal).
Printed newspapers have been decimated as classified ads, once a cash cow, were all but made obsolete by Craigslist.
Radio is treading water, fearing the influx of streaming services, but still holding some ground. Magazines aren’t faring much better. Readership habits shifted, as audiences gained access to a smorgasbord of free content and information.
New Media, New Advantages
Not only have the conduits through which information travels changed, but the means in which it’s consumed have been drastically altered as well. Content that was once paid for is now often free and available on-demand anywhere you can get a signal to your phone or laptop, which is just about everywhere.
The new media revolution has also democratized the power to be a media creator. New technologies mean you don’t need a printing press, a 50,000 watt antenna, or an industrial-sized financial investment to get into the media business.
An army of semi-pro bloggers, wiki editors, video game streamers, social media influencers, and citizen journalists sprung up seemingly overnight, each with a message to share and many with an audience willing to listen.
Moreover, new media is tearing down geographic and temporal boundaries. Even the most powerful media magnates of yore didn’t have nearly capabilities the average tween Snapchatter holds in the palm of their hands. Digital content can be made accessible almost everywhere, instantly.
New media has another major advantage over traditional media: it’s interactive. Not only can you talk to your audience, but they can talk back!
While a transition is occurring, old media will likely never disappear completely. Just as the invention of the lightbulb didn’t mean we lost our fascination with wax candles (if anything it increased our attachment to them), some legacy technologies are here to stay.
For example, recently Airbnb, a company that was digital from day one, decided to launch a glossy, print magazine, made out of pulp instead of pixels. Joanna Coles, chief content officer at Hearst, who is helping develop the periodical, told “Adweek” it is sourced with content from Airbnb hosts and guests. When asked why choose an old media format, she said, “Well, a good magazine is a journey in itself, it’s a voyage of discovery. You turn the page, and you find something magical you weren’t expecting and it transforms you.”
Television is weathering the storm best so far, with reports that TV ad revenue will keep pace with digital for the rest of the decade. David Christopher, Chief Marketing Officer at AT&T Mobility, told Fortune: “TV, at least in the foreseeable future, is always going to have a place in big brands’ media mixes.”
But, digital’s growth and influence can’t be denied. The takeaway: stay agile. We’re in a transitionary period, don’t abandon legacy channels entirely in a headlong rush into new media, but definitely keep your options open.