Posted on July 28, 2007
Filed Under OMG! Old Media is Dying! |
With all the debate about new media versus old media, I figured it was time to discuss in greater detail where I believe media is going. It isn’t new media or old media; it’s integrated media. I am not the originator of the concept, but it is one that I am convinced represents the future of media.
What is Integrated Media?
For simplicity’s sake, if we define media as content (information in various forms) distributed through a medium, integrated media is content distributed through multiple mediums in an integrated fashion. An integrated media company, therefore, is the media industry equivalent of a multi-channel retailer. Whereas a multi-channel retailer sells products through multiple channels (catalogs, stores, TV, the Internet, etc.), an integrated media company distributes content through multiple channels (television, radio, print, the Internet, etc.). The crucial component, however, is integration. Integrated media requires that a specific content property effectively leverage the multiple mediums that property is distributed through in a coherent, seamless fashion.
Why is Integrated Media the Future?
I believe that integrated media is the future of media because:
- Consumers are increasingly elusive. Their time is limited and their consumption patterns reflect this; they consume content in multiple mediums and demand more flexibility in how they consume content (time-shifting, etc.). With the Internet and technology facilitating the creation of more content (most of it sub-par), the growth in the amount of content being produced is exponential, meaning content properties have to compete more fiercely to cut through the clutter.
- Contrary to the beliefs of many, the existing mainstream mediums for content distribution (including television/cable, print, etc.) are not going to die. Each medium has its strengths and weaknesses. The emergence of the Internet as one of the most powerful media distribution channels means that other mediums will have to share the stage with this relative newcomer, but just as television did not kill radio, the Internet will not kill television and print media.
Integrated media addresses these market dynamics and:
- Enables content producers to leverage the strengths of each medium and to cross-promote its content in the other mediums. In essence, this creates the potential for an integrated media property to be greater than the sum of its individual parts.
- Enables consumers to consume content on their own terms. Consumers can be reached no matter what medium they prefer at any given time.
- Enables advertisers and sponsors to reach consumers wherever they are. Because the campaigns run by these entities hit consumers in multiple mediums, there is a greater chance that the consumers these entities are trying to reach will actually be reached.
The implications of these three things for integrated media companies are:
- Content producers have a better chance at building a successful, valuable property.
- Consumers get the flexibility they demand.
- Advertisers and sponsors have a higher likelihood of achieving the desired return on investment.
American Idol: A Case Study in Integrated Media
I believe that American Idol represents a great case study for integrated media. American Idol has the following:
- A television component. The FOX television program is a consistent ratings leader.
- An Internet component. AmericanIdol.com combines exclusive content as well as social media functionality that enables fans to interact with the property.
- Live event components. Auditions across the country lure tens of thousands of aspiring recording artists. The show itself has a studio audience. Concert tours enable fans to watch the winners and favorite contestants live.
- Mobile components. Voting can be performed via text messaging and mobile content and trivia services are also offered.
- A music distribution component. Winners and top contestants receive recording contracts and their albums are distributed for sale by a major label.
- A licensing/franchising component. American Idol has been taken global, with versions of Idol appearing in over 100 countries worldwide.
- A merchandising component. With everything from shower radios to chairs, Idol merchandise can be found in abundance.
All of these components are integrated in a coherent fashion to create a media property that offers consumers a variety of ways to interact with the property in multiple mediums. Additionally, each component of the property has the capacity to generate revenues. Advertisers and sponsors involved get to exercise a considerable amount of creativity in developing innovative campaigns where their brands become a part of the consumer experience across these multiple mediums. This makes American Idol a brand marketer’s paradise.
Who is Best Positioned to Take Advantage of Integrated Media?
American Idol is owned by CKX, Inc., an entertainment company founded in 1986. CKX is more likely to be considered an old media company despite the fact that it clearly gets new media too. Many technologists often seem ignorant to the fact that old media companies like Viacom and News Corp. are actually pretty darn savvy when it comes to new media.
In my opinion, old media companies are much better equipped to capitalize on the opportunities afforded by integrated media for a number of reasons:
- They understand content production. At its core, the media business revolves around storytelling. As Michael Eisner with NewTeeVee: “Old media means you understand motivation, and character, and where the denouement goes, and how to develop interests between characters, and make people laugh, and cry.” In reference to content, he goes on to state “Hopefully [people] will forget whether it’s sitting on their lap or on a screen or on a desk, they’ll just be engaged in what the characters are saying.”
- They understand the distinction between content production and content distribution. Again, Eisner pointed out that “…new media means technological advancement and expertise in distribution and exhibition, great. So far it hasn’t meant original produced professional high-grade quality entertainment.” Steven Chen and Chad Hurley created a powerful distribution platform in YouTube, however I doubt they’d have any clue as to how to create a compelling motion picture.
- They own the distribution mediums, like television, that are not democratic. Almost anybody can leverage the Internet to distribute content. Far fewer have the ability to leverage mediums such as television. Because integrated media inherently depends on being able to leverage multiple mediums, it’s far easier for entities with unfettered access to the less democratic mediums to create integrated media properties.
None of this means that old media companies will hold a monopoly on integrated media, but old media companies do have some significant advantages. In my opinion, the biggest disadvantage technology-oriented media companies have at the moment is that they truly believe old media is dying. When Silicon Valley types proclaim that Hollywood will be taken over by Silicon Valley, it’s a reflection of a certain level of arrogance on the part of technology-oriented individuals who again often don’t really understand what the media business is about.
How to Take Advantage of the Integrated Media Opportunity
Developing an integrated media property is admittedly not easy. The barriers to entry can be quite high. For instance, if you want to develop a property that leverages television, you obviously need access in the television industry to have any realistic chance at succeeding.
Individuals and startups looking to develop integrated media properties should focus on two things:
- Think integrated from Day 1. To develop a property that is integrated in a coherent fashion, it’s important to think integrated right from the conception stage. What mediums are appropriate and can add value to the property? How can each medium help build the property in the other mediums? What revenue opportunities exist for each medium? How can advertisers and sponsors be included across all of the mediums?
- Recruit expertise. It takes a diverse team to implement properties that span multiple mediums. Once you’ve decided what mediums your property should leverage, you’ll want to make sure that you have individuals involved who have expertise with each medium. Ideally, these individuals will be able to contribute a network that gives you access to the mediums.
Let the old media and new media proponents argue all they want. The future belongs to those who take a holistic approach to the media business and recognize the huge opportunities that integrated media presents.
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