Understanding how media flows and how to use the media for growth is one of the greatest challenges facing businesses today. One decade into the explosion of mobile computing and social media proliferation two things seem clear. The continued reaction by most is to try to force new media into an old media mold; few organizations make serious and bold investments into figuring out how to use the new media landscape to their advantage.
The newspaper industry could not adjust to the massive disruption of technology. From 2000 until today the ad revenue has all but disappeared, and the decline in print ad revenue has only accelerated in recent years. Even in hindsight, it is hard to determine what newspapers could have done differently. Understanding the business, they were in might have been a good start. Were newspapers in the journalism business or the connecting consumers with products and job seekers to jobs business? The difficulty of newspaper publishers had figuring out what business they were in may offer some insight into why businesses of all sizes are currently struggling with making new media work for them.
There is an honest crisis of identity over understanding exactly what business a company is in. Theodore Levitt’s buggy whip example is playing out real time for millions of companies both large and small. The ability to clearly, consistently and frequently communicate what it is your company does and why it does it is crucial. The communication channels available have never been as vast nor as accessible. Yet the best that most businesses can come up with is to blandly self promote their business with an early 21st century advertising mentality.
The key to unlocking the value of digital social communication ease is to seriously evaluate and examine the flow of media and keep a keen eye on where advertising dollars are moving and why they are moving there. The common denominator is attention, not impressions. The former is where a potential buying public is engaged; the latter is merely where they are. Nuanced yes, but very critical to leveraging media to your benefit. If it helps break it down in your mind like this:
Attention = new media model; Impressions = old media model.
Why does the flow of advertising dollars matter? Because advertising is, now more than ever, a game of capturing attention. Why does attention matter in leveraging media to your business’s gain? Becuase only with the attention of our audience can we educate, serve, and engage. Consider that social media is more than a mechanism to sell, it is a conduit to create customer advocacy, improve operational efficiency, increase employee engagement and retention, and rapidly identify where a product or service should evolve. Media rests at the very heart of the business. But the heart will not beat if we fail to understand what captures the attention of the people that are essential for us to make improvements in each area.
And how do we know where the attention is? We follow the ad dollars.
If we pay attention to how advertising options are maturing and what options are being delivered to the advertising consuming public, we quickly gain a better understanding of which elements of media matter to our efforts.
The media is the thing. Mastering it will have a significant impact on every single area of our business. We have the opportunity to examine scenarios like the newspaper industry and look closely at what they did wrong (arguably there is maybe nothing they could have done) and learn from those mistakes. We have before us evolving media applications and the benefit of watching rising stars emerge from their successful use of these varying media applications.
As leaders, as business people, as marketers, we must make media mastery the highest of priorities.