Evolution Instead of a Revolution: How Media has Changed with the Coming of New Technologies
What was media yesterday, what is it now and what will become of it? The “media of yesterday” is believed to be newspapers, magazines, radio, cinema and television. Now I still continue to read newspapers, listen to the radio, go to the movies and watch TV. And I suppose I won't stop doing that tomorrow. So, the question is: where is this foretold revolution?
What has changed?
Well, the technological basis changed: now we have global internet, wireless communications, gadgets and all the technological equipment that is necessary for our new ways of social interaction. And it's impossible to say what's primary: behavioral factor or the technology. I suspect that they go along with each other. What about behavioral patterns, I guess we can talk about one’s need to receive content here and now. People want to get content in highest quality, in any place, with maximum additional data and additional functions to work with it.
The content itself is primal from the point of earning money. Those who create content own most of the market. Also, the relationship between social networks and the conventional media are becoming more and more tense, as people find it easier to read everything on Facebook rather than search for information on different websites. This happens due to the fact that whoever owns the subscriber base, earns all the cash. From my point of view, it's all about creating a base of the audience involved. All the other things are less important.
The evolution of advertising
What happens now? For instance, this week's statistics showed that the amount of advertising on the Internet has reached that of television advertising. It's the same in Russia and the whole world in general. In the USA, the crisis of the paid media model has been a topic for discussion for the past two years. In Russia, the first serious media that started to experiment with paywall was "Vedomosti", that proposed to pay for content. The "Commersant" has yet to do something like this - their model is still based on advertising only. It's important to media that deals with business communications as well as all other media that work on this market.
Also, I can't avoid mentioning that the nationalization of media is a global process. One can't escape it. It will spread all over the world, which means global structures don't care a bit about one’s opinions on the matter.
Online cinemas never started to operate without loss. If one reads news on the "Gazprom-Media" projects, one will understand that though there's no stable income there, though they've been trying to reorganize their projects. At that, some personal blogs are already being registered as media. What's more, if you follow the "I am the media" concept, you can have a great audience worldwide without even being media. And what "being media" is in its modern understanding is also a question. My Facebook account may well be media too. Conventional companies and organizations are becoming media too. If you have your corporate title and a Facebook page with a particular audience, you can also be considered media.
The possible directions and business models for startups in media
All the promising media startups belong to the largest media holdings. Recently, a trusted foreign title published an article saying that anything essential on the market belongs to media giants. So I can confidently say that there has been no revolution in the media, all we see are consequences of a change in the technologies used. It sure has become more complicated, but in essence, it's all the same. That's no revolution, just new solutions at the confluence of technologies, platforms and business models. I believe that most of the examples of interesting successful projects are either ones implementing more complex business models or ones combining multiple platforms to attain better coordination to earn more money. The third option may be some unconventional combination of technologies that lets us meet the consumers’ needs and wishes, that no one else tried before.
Improvements, in turn, are an answer to challenges. First, some new challenge appears based on a set of user's requests. Then, some large corporation uses its own R&D to improve its systems or even create new technologies, or new small teams develop improvements that are then bought and incorporated. That's the whole story with media start-ups.
I believe that there is no stable business model except for global companies that still hold sufficient shares in the market. If one looks at the current state of the American media market, it's all about endlessly combining different business models. That's how they try to learn to answer the new needs that constantly appear in their users.
So, where's the revolution?
Where do we have to look? Surely, we are all young and romantic and we want there to be some revolution. Well, there are some promising fields. First of all, that's VR - now everyone makes attempts at it. Then, there are the neurointerfaces: it becomes obvious that in the future, we'll be controlling our TV's with our brains, not the clicker - and that will be great. There's also big data and the customization of content.
Really, there is no need to pursue revolution - we just have to do our thing and develop products that will be of use to the market. The market changes, the technologies change, and that's great.