The Decade That Transformed Media

As we head into the second decade of the new millennium (okay, it technically doesn’t begin for another year, but stick with me), it’s worth remembering where media stood just 10 years ago.

In January, 2000, few people had heard of Google. Online advertising was banners and e-mails. Big media brands dominated the Web. U.S. newspaper ad revenue would hit record high levels in 2000. Newsroom employment would peak in 2001 as newsstand sales of the top 100 magazines approached 30 million. No one had heard of blogs. People used mobile phones to talk.

Fast forward to 2009. Last year, people spent six billion minutes on Facebook, downloaded one billion YouTube videos and logged over 1.4 million blog entries every day. The iPhone became the first mobile phone to be used more for data than for voice. The Internet became the second most popular news medium behind television. Wikipedia posted its three millionth article.

Meanwhile, U.S. newsroom employment fell to a 25-year low and magazine newsstand sales dropped to 63% of their 2001 peaks. Reader’s Digest declared bankruptcy. Comcast said it would buy NBC.

The statistics go on and on. In just 10 years, our century-old mass-market media model has given way to a new structure dominated by the economics of the individual. Customers now take their opinions directly to the market. Woe to organizations that don’t listen.

The contraction of mass-market media has brought plenty of pain. Tens of thousands of media professionals have lost their jobs in the past two years, crowdsourcing has sent some professional fees into a tailspin and veteran marketers are under threat if they don’t “get” social media. But this pain is necessary, even beneficial in the long run.

New Efficiency

Media has historically been one of the least efficient industries on the planet. It’s a business that declares success if only 97% of its audience ignores an ad or tosses a mailer into the trash. It gains one customer at the expense of annoying 50 bystanders.

When department store magnate John Wanamaker said half his ad dollars were wasted, but he didn’t know which half, he was being generous.

The new Internet has flipped the economics. As media control has passed from institutions to individuals, waste has begun to work out of the system. The cost of reaching a targeted customer will only decline in the years to come. Sadly, these changes will also devastate those industries and professions that thrived on media’s historical inefficiency.

While mourning the loss of comfort and security that old media once provided, we shouldn’t get caught up looking backward. More competitive markets will bring new options for reaching customers. The marketers who survive will be those who put the past behind them and move quickly to take advantage of these new efficiencies.

Let’s start the year not by regretting the losses of the last decade, but by learning the skills we’ll need to survive the next.

What changes will we be looking back upon a decade from now? Post your comments on the blogged version of this article.

My Next Book Will Be For B2B Marketers

More than 50 books about social media were published in 2009, but not a single one targeted business-to-business marketers. It’s hard to believe, but Amazon doesn’t lie.

Eric Schwartzman and I intend to fill that gap. We’ve teamed up to write a new book under the working title of Social Media Marketing to the Business Customer for publication late this year or early next.The book will focus on issues that are unique to the B2B: disclosure, regulation, internal resistance, policies, legal issues and more.

Eric (pictured here) is the innovator behind the iPressroom service that many large companies use for their online media destinations. He’s also host of the On the Record…Online podcast series. Over nearly six years, he’s recorded audio interviews with almost 200 marketers and journalists about how the Internet has affected their work. It’s an amazing archive.
Eric and I will spend the next six months researching this book, and we welcome your guidance and expertise. The draft outline has been posted online and we invite you to share your thoughts. We’ll also be looking for good case studies of B2B marketers who have implemented successful social media programs. And if you’re willing to bare your soul and tell us about a campaign that DIDN’T go well, we’re particularly interested in talking to you. We’ll be gentle, I promise. 🙂

Just reply to this e-mail if you want to reach me. I will be posting updates on the research on my blog as we move forward. Forwards and retweets are more than welcome as we steam toward the June 30 manuscript deadline.

One More Plea to Take My Survey

Just before the holidays, I wrote you about a research report I’m preparing on multi-platform social media strategies. Marketers are beginning to expand beyond using point tools such as blogs and Facebook fan pages in favor of multi-platform programs that incorporate elements like video, podcasts, social networks, Twitter and branded customer communities all working together. I’m finding that combining several tools can greatly enhance the reach and impact of a program.

I’ve posted a survey to try to identify the most valuable scenarios and tools for multi-platform campaigns. If you can spare 10 minutes, please fill it out. I’m also lining up one-on-one interviews with marketers at mid-sized and large companies who can speak on the record about their experiences using multiple platforms. Please contact me if you’re willing to speak.

Tip of the Week: HandBrake Video Transcoder

I don’t know who first said, “The great thing about standards is that there are so many of them,” but he or she must have been talking about online video. If you’re trying to convert a video taken with a digital camera and post it on a couple of different websites, you may need to reformat — it’s called “transcoding” — two or three times in the process. And, of course, Apple doesn’t read Microsoft and vice versa.

Until recently, the only way to do this was with software that was either expensive, limited in functionality or insanely difficult to use. So I was grateful recently to find HandBrake, an open-source software program that accepts just about any video format you throw at it and spits out a file in almost any other format. HandBrake is fast and the default settings are easy to use. If you want to geek out, there are about a thousand dials and knobs you can play with. And since it’s open source, HandBrake will improve over time. Try it!

Just For Fun: Tweeting Greyhounds

Those of you who follow my Twitter stream may know that my wife, Dana, and I recently adopted a greyhound named Jacoby (right). It was Jacoby’s second day home when Dana thought of creating a Twitter account for our new dog. He now has 64 followers and is listed on 8 Twitter lists. There are several dozen dogs on Twitter, who share the daily adventures of their lives, and Jacoby is no exception. If you think this is silly, check out some of the other lists that people have made on Listorious. And go follow Jacoby.

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