Sorry, but I need to rant just a tad about the deleterious affect of advertising revenue on media—U.S. media in particular. All this past week, every commercial 24-hour video news outlet (I get that PBS, the BBC and Al Jazeera may be exceptions) that I have access to has spent hours and hours talking about almost nothing in the world except the loss of one airliner somewhere in the Indian Ocean (or South China sea, or Pacific, depending on the speculation of the day). I understand that the fellow in charge of CNN justified this obsessive coverage as being of interest worldwide, and that if we wanted news on any other topics, we should go to the Internet. Even though World War III may be starting in the Ukraine, for example.
The impression I got from the media analysis was that all these outlets were competing for mass-market (or at least cable-market) audience and that this was the most dramatic story with worldwide impact (remembering it’s not just the U.S. audience). But, 24 hours a day? Would they really lose that many multimillion-dollar advertiser clients by covering the news in a more balanced fashion? Really? And should large corporations with those multimillions dictate what is most available news-wise for an audience to see and hear?
I do get most of my news information from the Internet, but that’s problematic for other reasons, like not being able to tell opinion from factual reporting, and lack of professional investigation. Those multimillion-dollar advertisements also pay for professional reporting and analysis (although I often wonder about the value there anymore) as well as presence worldwide.
The advertising model of marketing is so…20th century, folks. I realize that it kept subscription prices down for hardcopy magazines and newspapers back in the day, but in the 21st century, we need another model for business visibility. Companies are totally wasting their multimillions trying to reach a mass audience anyway (yes we are fast-forwarding through those ads on cable), and I don’t think that targeted marketing of ads helps that much. We consumers of this new century are way too savvy, for the most part, to be swayed by ads more than about 10% of the time (more on how I see advertising and marketing in general in this post).
I would much prefer to pay a direct subscription for, say, CNN through the Internet (if they actually changed their model to a balanced coverage of worldwide news stories—and they don’t have to be boring like PBS. ;)). The content providers of video media need to divorce themselves from the cable companies and offer us an a la carte option. Kind of like Hulu does, where for free, you get certain content with more ads (if you really want to continue down that very inefficient path), and for x amount more you get more content with fewer ads, and maybe for x amount more, content with no ads. Then folks can decide what content they find most valuable and affordable and make their choices. Seems like a win-win to me.
So, y’all the stations making the content (and I know that Comcast owns some of you; that’s another issue—it shouldn’t), give me the opportunity to support you directly. Do like the smaller products and services businesses: build your tribe directly.
The age of advertisement is dying except as an adjunct to online search. Let’s move on to another story.