The New Dividing Line
What separates the media? Many of us are used to media categories that are defined by channel. NPR is a radio brand. CNN is a television brand. The Huffington Post is a web brand. Time is a magazine brand. The New York Times is a newspaper brand. Right??
Well, when you take another look, the classification of brands by their legacy (or ‘home’) media channel doesn’t seem to make much sense, anymore. The above brands are all ‘news’ brands that now live across multiple channels/platforms. Does the New York Times worry about other newspapers? Or, do they fight for share of audience among other highly regarded news brands? In an era of media convergence, your toughest competitor may not come from your legacy media channel.
Yet, in marketing, we still establish priorities and plans by ‘channel’. This worked during a time when each channel truly carried a unique experience both in terms of the form of content/advertising and how consumers connected. But in a new world that is influenced by the affects of media convergence, cross-channel experiences are more similar than dissimilar. Think about it: you can view video just about anywhere. You can listen to podcasts without the old requirement of the broadcast spectrum. And you can contribute to a blog post from any of the brands listed, above.
We need to educate marketers (and frankly, some media agencies) to think about the media in a new way: by the content experience as opposed to by channel. Channels are becoming less relevant. In fact, ‘channels’ tend to confuse rather than clarify. Content more so than channel lends contextual relevance to brand messaging. We’ve known this for a long time. We understand the role/power of content in magazines (the coveted editorial adjacency) but we tend to forget this lesson when we look more broadly at our options.
Perhaps we should operate with a broader contextual truth and cross that old dividing line. It’s time to recognize the true power of a great media brand, and it lives well beyond a single platform!