Is the Media Universe Expanding or Contracting?

It is hard to tell sometimes. Signs of contraction are everywhere in the troubled media epoch we have been living through. Layoffs, restructurings, new managements abound, all signs of a weak ad market.

But, at the same time there are signs all around us of new growth -- new magazines, new networks, whole new media. The new ideas being churned about could make your head spin.

So, which view is correct? Is the media universe expanding or contracting?

In fact, it is ever-expanding and all individual media are concurrently evolving

Though at any given moment it might look like not very much is happening, viewed over time the changes in the media and in individual media vehicles would make the landscape almost unrecognizable to those from another era. For individual media vehicles, there's an incredibly dynamic process of birth, baby steps, vibrant youth, maturity and death.

And, for every old media vehicle that dies, many new are born. Viewed over time we can see that there has actually been a media explosion all around us that is changing the way we in the advertising media business must approach everything we do. There are hundreds of television channels, thousands of magazines, tens of thousands of web sites. And, there are more of all of them all of the time. There is one or more of each for nearly every human interest. The interests not covered are being quickly filled in. If a new interest develops, there are new media vehicles almost before it happens.



This nearly infinite variety of media options for consumers is leading to the devaluation of advertising as marketers' principal consumer touch point. With the proliferation of media options, time spent viewing/reading/using the average individual property has decreased. Competition has spread the media consumer out across multiple properties per special interest. At the same time, catering to ever narrower special interests and dividing up audiences with competitors is much more costly for individual media properties on a per person reached basis.

Thus, while attention deficit disorder has set in for consumers of media, costs of delivery per consumer have grown for the media. For the marketer trying to utilize media to achieve communication goals, there is a triple whammy: (1) much higher costs to plan and buy their way through the confusion; (2) higher cpms needed by media to offset their costs to service smaller audiences; and (3) declining attention by media consumers.

I'm not sure it is going to get any better anytime soon.

What's a marketer to do? We think there are some answers emerging and we are holding our annual September powwow -- Media Forecast 2004 -- to explore what media life is like in this new universe. Sign up to participate in the discussions and help shape the future of media. Traditional media day is September 24th. Online media day is September 25th. (For information, go to

Whether we get the answers right or not, we'll celebrate each day with cocktails on the rooftop terrace at the Marriott East Side overlooking New York City. Will we be celebrating the end of an era or a new beginning? Either way, watch for upcoming reports of the proceedings in MediaDailyNews and MEDIA Magazine.

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