OMMA'S Rising Stars on the Future of Media

If anyone has a take on the new media revolution, it's OMMA's Rising Stars who know, first-hand, the power of digital technologies to facilitate interactive communication and engagement. OMMA asked them to weigh in on the challenges presented by media disintegration and the potential for reaggregation. The proliferation of media choices has accelerated via the deployment of digital technologies and software, which have changed the game for all media. Where will it all fall out?

Crispin Porter's Kristy Fulwider notes that in the current media environment consumers are increasingly forced to "find a way to aggregate content in an effort to make sense of the world around them, such as what's happening with blogs and RSS." Consumers are flocking to personalized, niche media communities or are creating their own.

Mike Gantz of Carat Interactive says, "Internet technologies are not a destructive force but are contributing to the fragmentation of the marketplace." He maintains that media fragmentation "can be an ally, allowing for a better connection with the intended consumer and targeted communications." Media, Gantz says, will need to develop a "qualified target metric."

Suzanne Schneider of AKQA agrees, "Internet technologies are not a destructive force but a driving force that challenges all media buyers and planners to think as creatively as they do strategically."

There are, however, pesky problems with digital technologies. Spam, adware, spyware, and pop-ups have had a negative effect on the online media world: "Consumers think we all are spammers, buy pops, and want to impregnate their computer with a software package that will track every time they pick their nose," Olivia McKinsey of Moxie Interactive remarks. Luckily, she adds, "I'm the optimistic type who thinks there are more people who want to actually communicate with their potential customers rather than just sell or talk to them."

Digital media and technologies are the glue that knits everything together, according to Elyse Estrada of Beyond Interactive who says "Internet technologies are the central force behind all other advertising mediums; they help integrate the offline components and make them trackable."

The Web should entertain and engage. And, while online media is perhaps the most trackable of all media, the Web needs to continue to develop and improve upon standards for measurement, as Jeff Cole of mOne explains. "We need to incorporate the Internet and technology to engage consumers, but only as it achieves specific goals and objectives. Since there are currently so many possibilities, it's imperative to be selective. We can fall into a trap if we test or execute everything new under the sun yet don't establish clear selection or success criteria."

If disaggregation and disintegration are problematic, it's only a cyclical problem, says Arthur Chan of Palisades Interactive. "Right now, we are at the point where 'disintegrated' media is just starting to naturally aggregate into new verticals." Daniel Alpert of Avenue A/Razorfish disagrees, "They say everything is cyclical; however, we will never see the same type of mass commoditization that has occurred in the marketing past again."

Palisades' Chan and Crispin's Fulwider sum the debate up simply by saying the consumer is in control. "Ultimately, consumers decide how the evolution of media unfolds, not technology," Chan notes, while Fulwider says that marketers are accustomed to controlling the consumer experience but "consumers have tired of this model. Therefore, the challenge is to find a way to give consumers control while still offering them a creative outlet for consumption."

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