Time to change partners


Was Stephen Stills predicting media trends when he wrote this song?  We’ll never know for sure.  But either way, it’s a fascinating time when you can see side by side stories in the Wall Street Journal that depict the gradually culminating hand-off underway in print, television, and online media.  The consumer demand for content has never been higher, and ad dollars are following viewers across the spectrum.

On the far left, there’s print media continuing its struggle as the number of ad pages dropped from the prior year for the third straight quarter.  This despite a seemingly brilliant (sarcasm) campaign launched in 2010 to lure readers back to print media by running cool ads in…well…print media.  Yeah, that didn’t work.  Silver lining, though: those silly tablets have given retro-glam status to long form again, with newsstand content and full page advertising that brings me back to the good old days of dial-up connections and a daily newspaper on every kitchen table.

Turn your head to the side, and there’s online media salivating over traditional television as it rotates on the spit.  AOL is making the move to offer online ads that mimic the formula of old-school television; as the Journal reports, “AOL has teamed up with Nielsen to offer TV-like audience guarantees to marketers based on gross rating points. In other words, AOL will guarantee that an ad will be seen a certain number of times by a portion of the demographic group sought by the marketer.”

Neither news story is surprising, even as simultaneous events.  Indeed, it seems clear that these dance moves will continue until viewers make their choice — and boring as it may sound, I see an equilibrium in our future.  Long form media will revamp its revenue structure to tie old advertising dollars to new formats like tablets, television will continue its slow journey to the Land of On Demand, and the Internet will sew it all together.  In the end, we’ll have less “competition for eyeballs,” and more of a brilliantly synchronized media tableaux.

I can dream, right?


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