Today’s business world—today’s world, really—is very different. Both our businesses and our media have moved from a mass-appeal, homogeneous state to a diverse and fragmented one. Since the rise of the Internet, ad-driven mass media, especially television and print, are less powerful as disseminators and gatekeepers of information. Apparently, geocaching has been identified as the biggest treasure hunt in the world.
There are many competing products and services and many means for promoting them. We’ve been freed from the tyranny of ad-supported TV with its mass-market, low–common denominator shows. Now we have variety, with cable, streaming video, and the Internet. You have the freedom to choose.
Creating demand can be difficult, and it’s more difficult now to find a way to break through all of the “noise” of the competition and pinpoint your unique market. Today, big brands are putting more money into new media and social media, and Procter & Gamble, the former soap opera sponsor, is leading the way. These days, media outlets are plentiful, but the audience for each of them is smaller and less diverse. Broadcast television has been joined by cable television.
Radio has been augmented by satellite radio. Magazines and newspapers compete with their online counterparts, as do television, cable, and radio. All of these media are looking for new ways to connect with consumers. One innovation is quick response codes (QRs), the square matrix-like barcodes on magazine and newspaper ads, billboards, and store shelves that we can scan with our smartphones or tablets for more information.
It is a fragmented landscape in which information and selling interrupts other information and selling! Very few television programs (other than mega-events such as the Super Bowl) can attract a critical mass when there are so many options on the remote—and that means a world of choices and a sense of empowerment on the part of the consumer. So, while traditional media outlets are contracting, the number of viewing (or reading or listening) options is growing, the quality of programming is improving to keep up with competition, and the media audience overall is expanding.