By Patrick Reynolds, EVP, MarketingWednesday, Dec 12, 2012 9:30 AM EST

Sleeping with the Enemy

Posted via iMedia Connection

BIA/Kelsey forecasts, local online, interactive and digital advertising revenue will sail smooth waters for the next few years with a 12.4% compound annual growth rate. Traditional media (read: broader broadcasters, casting a wider net), on the other hand, will see their ad revenue stagnate at a negative 0.4% annual rate over the same time period.

As figures like this become the norm, it’s clear that media’s charter has changed. Beyond a slight course correction or even a pivot, we’re talking 180-degree change. Continue down the same path and you’re hot on the heels of dinosaurs.

Media delivered the mail for marketers for a long time. You thought it was there to provide you with programming you’d relate to, learn from, and fall in love with? Puh-lease. Make no mistake: you’re the mark, the advertiser is the hunter, and the media channel is pointer nosing you out, flushing you, and chasing you relentlessly until you give in and get bagged. Media companies gave away stuff free or dirt cheap because what consumers gave was found money – a rounding error in the grand scheme of things. The entire enterprise was funded by Madison Avenue.

Media math was simple: deliver enough quality content and reach audience scale. Achieve scale and advertisers will pay you for delivering the quarry.

Now it doesn’t add up like it used to.

You see, a funny thing happened. Some “up with the people” technologists figured out the equation and decided to do something about it. Seemingly overnight, most towns went from one paper, three television stations, and a handful of radio stations to hundreds or thousands of each from around the globe. Content became liberated from form. Newspapers became synonymous with “news” not “paper.” Radio became audio and emanated from phones, iPads, and even cable channels (in addition to your car stereo). Television became decoupled from the video that fueled it, relegated to just an appliance, not a magic box as it was once regarded.

Seeing where things were heading, media companies did the Big Boomerang out of enlightened self-interest. As the marketplace became fractured, efficiency flagged. Their hand with their ad masters became diminished as they brought less eyes and ears (and wallets) to the party every year.

So they switched allegiances. Media became Mediators.

Now, they create content much more with the consumer in mind. Things got specialized and relevant. Their “big tent” approach where they played to the middle to keep everyone (somewhat) happy gave way to working the corners, moving audience out of a nameless and faceless herd and into little groups of similar tastes, perspectives and locations.

Ultimately, media will not only deliver content to these little groups but they’ll deliver messages from them to advertisers as brokered by the media property. “They’re willing to give you the following personal information in exchange for limited, highly specific adverting and equally relevant content on a purely opt-in basis. And PS—they want a vote in the narrative as well.”

If you want to listen to Yiddish Dance Music, there are plenty of stations to choose from. Want to learn the intimate thoughts and life stories of albino hoarders? Tune in and find out. These slivers of special interests sometimes get aggregated together with others and packaged up for advertisers with huge scale. Equally, they can be spoken-to very personally in smaller groups without being shouted at.

Danish-loving-fetishishts of the world rejoice!