Commentary

The Media Trifecta Of Consolidation

When marketers determine how to spend their money, they tend to look at each channel and decide on allocation.  This typically breaks out to TV, online, mobile, out-of-home, print, events/experiences, etc.  What’s interesting is, three of those areas —  TV, online and mobile — are converging quite rapidly, and two of them may end up looking like the same thing in the coming years.

The common format is video.  According to some stats I saw, by 2020 as much as 85% of online traffic will come from mobile and as much as 70% of that could be from video.  Besides standard- and short length video for content and commercials, the category is exploding with new, more immersive formats:  augmented reality, virtual reality, live video streaming (like Facebook Live) and 360 degree video are all booming right now and consumers are taking note.  All of these formats can quickly increase the percentage of time allocated to video on a mobile device.  While each of these are consumer-friendly, marketing elements are not yet being integrated in any meaningful form.

I also find it interesting that mobile is dominated by a handful of companies.  Another recent bit of research that was shared with me showed that eight of the top 10 mobile apps came from Google and Facebook, with the other two from Apple and Amazon.  These four companies have quickly created an oligopoly in the mobile app space.  And all of these companies are also very strong when it comes to video.

Many media pundits talk about the evolution of TV. While it’s important to look at evolution through the lens of TV vs. other media, it’s quickly becoming clear to me that all three of these primary media channels are collapsing, thus radically simplifying the way a marketer has to view the media landscape.  

If you dive into it, a few players dominate the more traditional TV landscape and each of these are cross-platform conglomerates.  For example, Disney owns ESPN, ABC and many other touch points for content.  NBC Universal is similar.  Verizon is amassing assets across all channels, as is AT&T.  

When you jump into the digital space, the leadership position consists of Google and Facebook, with a few major players falling in behind.  

If you’re a marketer, you can focus your time and attention on around 10 major companies and quickly find innovative ways to reach your target audience across every major channel in a much more targeted, personalized fashion.  All these companies are getting adept at leveraging data and are on a buying spree, because they recognize which way the winds are blowing.  Cross-channel and cross-platform consumer contact is the name of the game, and it revolves around the dual nexus of identity and content.

It’s important to understanding the impact this trend will have on the rest of the industry.  Each of these “walled gardens” are valuable partnerships to establish, but what’s also important is understanding how you can use the rest of the open Web and the other opportunities available to you to create efficiency and gain leverage in your negotiations.   

No one wants to be beholden to these companies.  Nobody wants to get stuck in an upfront environment with limited partners of value, because that shifts too much power to those companies.  That being said, these companies appear to be in the driver’s seat over the next four to six years.

This consolidation should, on paper, make it easier for marketers to reach their audience accurately, but it will come with some growing pains over the next couple of years.  Are you ready for them?

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