Ryan Trainor

The media landscape is changing. It’s time to start thinking narrowly.

Pulling marketing’s long tail

It is well documented that trying to guess demand in most business models is a losing proposition.

Yet the major media broadcasters’ model of “pushing content” – the kind of distribution responsible for mass production in my lifetime – is purely based on anticipating consumer demand, producing content, then pushing it into the market hoping it will get traction and waiting for the ratings to measure its success.

What’s more, advertisers have spent millions of dollars to support such a broadcasting model.

We are now part of a new age of media consumption, in which broadband internet and multiple media devices are dramatically expanding the ability for consumers to access content where and when they want.

What had been the exclusive domain of major media broadcasters is being challenged by companies such as You Tube and Apple, and advertisers are looking for new ways to connect with their narrow target markets.

As the media landscape changes, new models are being created based on consumers’ “pulling content”. This distribution model, used in many online environments, is based on flexible production platforms that use technologies that offer a broad range of content that is only produced when requested.

Instead of producing standardised products for mass markets, consumers use a “pull” technique to assemble content in customised ways to serve their local or specialised needs.

I love to read and keep on top of trends around the globe. An interesting concept I have been watching is called The Long Tail, popularised by Wired magazine’s editor-in chief Chris Anderson in 2004

The theory of The Long Tail is that the culture of today’s media market and economy is shifting increasingly away from a focus on a relatively small number of “hits” – mainstream products and markets – at the “head” of the demand curve toward a huge number of “niches” in the “tail” of the demand curve.

This potentially means the aggregated size of niche content, that doesn’t individually sell well enough for traditional broadcast distribution, may rival that of the existing large market in mass media.

It suggests that people will gravitate towards particular content because it satisfies their specialised interests better, thus causing a potential shift from mass markets to millions of niches that will inevitably change the media landscape traditionally dominated by mainstream broadcast. This has created a need for new models to connect advertisers with consumers.

To take advantage of the current and future media landscape, advertising models will need to be dynamic and support the “on demand” consumption of media. Advertising models that succeed will offer “dynamicism”; that is, customisable advertisements that advertisers can produce that are more relevant to consumers with dynamic updates that reflect current business and market conditions (such as inventory changes, pricing and promotional offers). This will give advertisers the edge and ensure messages remain relevant and targeting the primary audience.

Companies now need to review strategies and explore narrowcast advertising opportunities that provide precise targeting to ensure ads are timely and relevant to the intended audience in contrast to broadcasting, where each location or person receives the same content.

Narrowcasting can be a marketer’s dream, since it allows for real-time marketing and the near-instantaneous distribution of new advertising messages. I will be interested to watch the innovation in this space.


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