Predicting Media's Future From The Side Mirror
This is the week to talk about the future of media. One thing I’ve learned in trying to make predictions about media: The rate of change always seems to be occurring much faster than it actually is. Maybe it’s because media industry professionals are immersed in early phases of technology so, just as in a car, objects in our side mirror appear closer than they actually are.
I recall, for example, my memo from early 2004 predicting that set-top-box data would help revolutionize television measurement. Or, in 2005, when I pressed our COO to secure online rights and add original content to our websites because within the next five years we would all be watching television via the IP. I still say that I am right, and maybe it will happen one day soon.
As part of my interview series for TV Board, I always ask respondents for predictions – “Where do you see the media industry in the next five years?” The responses are as varied as they are fascinating. In early 2012, I looked back at their 2009 predictions and was very impressed. View all my TV Board interviews here.
Looking in my side mirror and realizing that things appear closer than they actually are, here is my contribution to the future of media prognostications:
1. Set-top-box data measurement will continue to integrate into the currently accepted media measurement, and within five years will be an integral part of the currency -- if it is not made totally obsolete by IP data coming in from connected TVs!
2. New metrics will be created, resulting in a more official transition away from standard age / gender as the industry standard for posting purposes. The full transition comes when the standard posting systems are able to accommodate the new data. SinceMediaocean is beginning to incorporate STB data into its system and Experian and Polk are routinely appended to datasets, I see this happening sooner rather than later.
3. Mobile will be firmly entrenched as a transactional tool rather than as a major video viewing option, while tablets of various sizes and capabilities have the potential to overtake computers and even television screens for viewer attention.
4. Networks will be challenged as viewers opt for specifically chosen programs on the DVR, VOD and online at their convenience. How can viewers discern which network aired which program at what time? This impacts audience flow, scheduling and branding and requires new creative methods. In this situation, television could become more like music where there is no longer a “Side B” – a weaker product that gains sampling because it is placed near a stronger product.
5. There will be a blurring of the lines across current media formats. Print and radio could successfully make the transition to the IP -- and thus expand their format capabilities, becoming de facto video content providers. The media universe will morph, becoming much more competitive for consumers’ attention.