Clearly mass media is declining in its efficiency and effectiveness. There is fragmentation, substitution, democratization...the list goes on. I would love comments taking the other side (e.g. 30 second ads are the best way to sell products).
The term that Ted McConnell at P&G uses is "narrow-casting." The question is whether television or color print or newspaper represent the best ways to do this. Ted's challenge is to figure out how to measure what you spend. Nielsen has had a massive shell game with their ratings system, and now feel the heat. Their response is to imbed a chip in all humans so they can track their media consumption! Really, it is so ridiculous to think people should have a device on their person that I am offended at the idea. Why is it absurd? Well, for one, they believe that what matters is what people are exposed to...sorry, but what matters is what people RESPOND to!
The other big deal is that consumers either want to be in control or are de facto being empowered. We live in a world that is "always on." More social commentary on this in the future, but for now suffice it to say that the world has changed. In the post WWII era, people were naive and inquisitive. They wanted to consume, and needed help understanding what marvels of technology and progress were available in the post Industry Revolution era.
As we look forward, we see a new vision for marketing and advertising...a fundamental re-architecture change. All news, communications, entertainment, product information, brand image creation and management, will become not only essential in people's lives, but increasingly interconnected. Fundamentaly, we move to "mymedia." The changes are all around us. We are clearly past "mass media" and moving to digitial media. We see infotainment everywhere...Sirius Satellite Radio, iPod, GPS.
Today, we live in a world where each person can decide what will be published to each of them. The future is a world where you decide what you will be publishing to others. I am writing this blog. No one is reading it. But they may in the future. I will upload video for free on Google. Just for fun. The next "Rock Band" video game on Xbox Live will allow strangers to write music and publish it into the www!
Content is whatever people find informative, entertaining, provocative, stimulating...opinions, data, prices, movies, stories, photos, information...
As I have said many times, Brands are Content. In the same way, you could argue that "anything that can be digitized is content." This appears to be Google's vision. Could it be that advertising is another form of content? It seems self-evident that Consumers wish to buy and be served. Companies want to sell and serve. Why the tension? The new world of the web should make it so that the two paths can easily meet.
The issue will again be control. Companies must cede control to consumers to earn their trust; to keep them engaged. Consumers will want to have security over what they view and hear. Consumers will seek areas of shared interests and values. This is where brands must be very sensitive to associate only with natural and organic material and partners. Anything forced is fake.
So what can marketers do? They can be patient, measure everything, create great content around the brands, and be sensitive to social networks. The concept of concentric circles is very profound in the web: family, friends, broader groups. The influentials who begin the process of the "Tipping Point" are the gold that marketers seek. But to call them out is in a way spoil them. This is the subtle game of cat and mouse, or privacy and marketing.