Mediaquake 2009: Top 10 insights into the year’s media shakedown!

There’s a clause in every blogger’s contract which states that they must, at the end of each year, produce some kind of retrospective Top 10 list. Unfortunately for my part, instead of doing something useful like providing mp3s of the year’s Top 50 hardhouse bangers, I’ve compiled a themed Top 10 list of posts about this year’s mediaquake, as someone is bound to have called it.

1. The nature of the media crisis
You’ve all read Tapscott and Shirky, but in case you needed a refresher on what’s happening, then Advergirl concisely explains how and why ‘big media’ is struggling:

The Media Crisis: Part 1, Overview of an Implosion

The Media Crisis, Part 2: Publishers and Creators (working for scratch)

The Media Crisis, Part 3: Advertisers (looking for their lost sheep)

The Media Crisis, Part 4: Consumers (will people buy their eyeballs back?)

2. The technical and sociological causes
Henry Jenkins succinctly explains how we’re moving from a media culture where we spectate to one where we participate.

3. The wider economic impact
Randall Rothenburg of the IAB asks Is Marketing a Strategic Resource or a Procured Commodity?
A question that Randall argues underpins the future shape of all media, much of which is, of course, supported by marketing money. (It’s a long post, but if you read one from this list then it probably should be this one).

4. The empire strikes back
Rupert Murdoch’s announcement earlier in the year that he was going to put paywalls on his newspaper sites was a big news story in itself (and one that no doubt lost him money on his own sites). The jury’s still out on whether he’ll be able to make money with this strategy.

5. Small furry mammals and new business models
In the Content Republic (PDF), digital strategist, Faris Yakob, explains how brands and agencies might consider making the shift from buying space next to other people’s media to producing it themselves. That is to say disintermediating (how I loved to use that word 10 years ago) the publishers and broadcasters.

6. Does that mean content is still king?
Jeff Levick, Global Strategy Chief at AOL, explains why he believes that the third wave of the web is about content.
Levick believes that the life cycle of online is entering its third stage: the first, between 1990 and 2000 was about getting people online, between 2000 and 2010 it was all about connectivity and platforms; beyond this, the “third act” is all about content.

7. What kind of content?
If you want to know more about what this content might be like then, you’d better get over to the rather brilliant Jawbone.tv which aggregates transmedia and other interactive content, like the game, graphic novel hybrid Teamgeist or the participatory animation, Exquisite Corpse.

8. A sceptical note
But what about oversupply? Content, which used to be scare, no longer is, it’s attention that’s scarce. And who’s going to fund all this new content, because no one’s paying attention to those adverts any more? And the public’s not willing to pay for anything other than live sport. And are ARGs and transmedia really that compelling? And…and…

9. The future
O.K., I won’t even pretend to be able to answer all those questions, however, I think that we’ll see a greater range of hybrid media funding models in the next few years, with some organisations and brands electing to go straight to audiences, in part because they have the right and because it’s more cost effective, while others choose to stick with the old communications model which will go on working for some time yet. Everything will become much more participatory, and we’re not just talking about getting people to make ads for you to stick on your YouTube channel.

As far as content is concerned there is some hope, albeit faint, that Kindle, the Apple tablet and other similar propositions may yet prove the saviour of the subscription based content industry. If these devices can deliver highly-integrated rich-media experiences that are difficult to replicate, unlike simple web text or video, they will drive subscription uptake. These are more expensive, and it’s questionable whether they really deliver greater utility, but it certainly seems possible with certain types of content, i.e. sports, will still be seen as valuable enough to ensure this model has some future.

The exact shape of web/TV/mobile convergence is still unclear despite 10 years of competing claims. One screen, two screens, set top boxes, PVRs, media servers, are all still in play. What does seem certain is that content will drive technology uptake, e.g. Sky +, with the mass market paying for a point and click solution, while more technically adept audiences, able to use and configure computers will, as they do now, continue to get most of their content for free. Live sports will be the next big piracy battle ground.

Further complicating matters is identity and the social graph. If 2003 saw the ‘death of the homepage’, then 2009 saw the ‘death of the website’, i.e. with social media truly coming of age it’s now necessary to go to where users are, rather than expect them to come to your site. In addition, the old media programming model is being rapidly replaced by social content sharing, with targeted services like Boxee taking a early lead.

Identity and the implied ownership of the social graph is the key battle ground in the next two to three years, Facebook Connect and to a lesser extent Twitter, represent threats to Google which has been, like Microsoft and even Apple, relatively poor at unifying users identities across their various platforms and more importantly connecting them with their social graph in a seamless way. Despite this I predict that these communication platforms will become increasingly similar, with different identities appealing to different demographics. Branding and positioning will become more important than technical advance.

O.K., enough already, I could say more about AR or the semantic web or the dozen other things happening in digital content at the moment, but but if you’ve made it this far then congratulations, and enjoy the music.

10. I lied about the mp3s
Taped Together is @melex and @brainpicker‘s crowdsourced Christmas themed mp3 blog, a great source of reasonably obscure Christmassy tunes that you don’t hate because they play them in every shop on the planet for two months every year. I think I’m the curator for day 16.

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