In many Countries media, be it newspaper, magazines or television, generates revenues through advertisement. And also when there is a pay per copy (magazines) or a subscription fee (magazines, television) a good portion of revenues derives from ads.
And ads revenues are declining! Just look at this latest graph representing the Ads market in the US for print media over the last 8 years … (graph published by Statista)
Interestingly, the decline in revenue corresponds to an increase in ads revenue by Google (that can be used as the gauge for on line ads) but it is not making up for the loss or revenues in the print media (and a similar story, although it is just starting to become apparent goes for television). Don’t be misled by the graphics. The decline is showing what is happening in the USA, the growth in Google’s ads revenue is worldwide.
It is not so different to what I was brooding on yesterday, the erosion of Telecom Operators revenues by the OTT.
The question is if this erosion that will eventually force more and more publishers to move on line, shrink their staff and possibly go out of business will result in a change in the way people “consume” media.
Will we still have a television in 20 years time? Will our grand-grand children learn about newspapers, magazines and television the same way we have learnt about scrolls and minstrels?
And notice that if you are comparing scrolls with newspapers/magazines, or minstrels with television it is not just about a different “device” or format. It is about a completely different value chain, a different market and different players.
Scrolls and minstrels were targeting a very minuscule market, just a few people max. The lag time from the creation of the information to its consumption was very long, better measured in years, on the average than in months. Television and printed media have both enlarged the audience and shorten the time from the content creation (not always, a movie is usually filmed for several months before hitting the screen…) to content fruition.
Internet is changing it all! The audience is potentially the whole world but in practice it is an audience made by single viewers that can be identified and that can influence the content itself directly (by choosing it out of tons of available material) or indirectly (by content aggregators that through profiling are pushing content to that specific viewer).
As ads decline classic media move to the Web where cost are lower, but in doing so they change the relations among content producers, aggregators, distributors and viewers, killing some in the process.
New on line magazines, like Flipboard, are now widely used and yet they don’t correspond to an “editor” in a classic sense. They are tools to create specific, single user experience. I should confess that nowadays Flipboard is the first app I click every morning, to get at a glance what is likely to matter me most.
One might say that Flipboard, and Flipboard like applications only exist because the NY Times, US Today, il Corriere,…. are publishing content, but they are not the only ones. Actually there are thousands of timely content sources being published by individuals.
Again, one might object that reading a piece from a NY Times journalist is quite different in trustworthiness and style than reading the same story from a blogger or a twitter… And yet. We have just started to scratch the possibilities of the Information Society. I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years time advances in Big Data and in the natural language creation will enable to provide news that are as accurate (actually more accurate), as insightful and as pleasing to read than the ones we get today from a renewed newspaper. Actually, I will be surprised if that will not happen well before 2030!
YouTube and Netflix are already showing changes in the way people look at the “screen” and this is changing television into a personalised media. But this is just a first step. I am pretty sure that the next one will be a social television clustering friends and BoF around content that is no longer produced by the Majors in the same way as it is produced today. Because today content is being produced by these Majors for the mass market where all viewers are indistinguishable from one another.
Not so in the future. Each viewer will be unique, social networks will be dynamically created, fleeting in time and space.
If this is come to pass, and I bet it will, we are going to see a tremendous change in the television value chin and in the players. Our screen at home will be just that. A screen. A window to our world that will be shaped in some Data Centre that will have a virtual representation of me, of my social circle and of my ambient and will create (not just deliver) “content on demand”.