As a 13 year practitioner/owner of my own marketing and advertising firm, this is indeed a loaded question that I try to answer with a ton of caveats and exceptions. Here’s what I mean:
We all know that the communications world as we once knew it has indeed changed. Some would agree it’s for the better, others not so much. I have always tried to maintain a neutral posture as my clients all have different objectives and needs that are met via various media vehicles. Today, I’m a bit more bias and tend to favor the web before entertaining former options, hence why I’m working towards a degree in it.
An outstanding example is what’s happening with the Boomer demographic. Only three years ago Boomers, area I specialize in and the dominating segment of the US population, were not a demographic we’d advise reaching via the web. Many efforts were centered around television and radio. The only questions we’d have to ask are what stations? and how often? Granted there’s lots of options in those two areas but most options were weeded out quickly simply by the product or service we trying to promote (ie. financial service ads on the golf channel). Plug in a budget and a creative niche, mission accomplished, we had a campaign.
Today, the formula is totally different. Boomers are very much online and aggressively growing in numbers everyday. Perhaps it’s due to recent jump in unemployment numbers affecting that segment of the population. Whatever the reason, bottom line is that their numbers are significant enough for us to now pay attention to their trends online. A recent study shares that they make up 36% of the total adult online activity: http://bit.ly/8Rcbdc What does this mean for the TV and radio venues we used to fund with advertising dollars? Not a whole lot since their sales are slowly diminishing (you should see the deals you can get nowadays). I mean think about it, the last segment of the population that TV and radio was catering to is now paying attention to what’s happening online, that’s a pretty significant industry impact. Rule of supply and demand tells us that its only a matter of time before we care as much about using those venues, as we do about sending out a message via a beeper. Hence why I used the Boomer example, they were the last segment of the population the internet had to capture and it now has done exactly that.
Back the question at hand. Yes I believe there is diversity in the media is here to stay, but not in the form of more channels on TV to choose from nor more broadcast radio providers. I in fact believe those two contenders will soon be holding on for dear life. I mean with Hulu.com (TV) and Pandora.com (radio) who even needs TV or radio stations anymore? I believe that the diversity of media will soon take shape by the social networks out there because power is now in the hands of the people. Right?
Think about it. If power was once in the hands of the providers (stations and broadcast centers), but now has entirely shifted to the consumer, what choice do I have as a marketing/advertising exec. but to learn how to now meet those people on their paths most traveled? My prediction? I believe that over the next 5-10 years, we’re not only going to see dramatic diversity taking shape on the web in the forms of virtual stations you design and watch on your flatscreen, we’re also going to experience the UNI factor where the lines between TV, radio and web are all going to be very blurry. Why do you think everyone is going digital? Broadcasters are not stupid. Diversity will then take shape based on relevant content, interactivity and entertainment value that is decided upon by the consumer. Behavioral Science? You betcha.