The wild west of content
You’ve heard it called the democratization of content. We’re moving from a consumer society to a producer society. Anyone can build a soapbox. And, some of us, can build an entertainment empire.
That’s the second problem. Not enough critical mass.
Or more simply: Too much choice
We all want different content. The web brings us a seemingly limitless supply. Up against pretty flat demand. Not only does the old advertising model not translate to new consumer behaviors, it doesn’t translate for advertisers' bottom lines either. They can’t routinely get enough of us watching any one thing to deliver a compelling audience share.
According to Nielsen Media Research, in the last reporting period, CBS's prime-time audience was down 2.9%. ABC was down 9.7%, Fox was down 17.5% and NBC was down 14.3%.
We’ve abandoned appointment-TV for downloaded movies; broadcast for cable; the box in the living room for the computer on our lap. We get what we want when we want it – don’t expect us to show up based on the TV guide’s demands. Wait, do they even print that anymore?
Diminishing returns, dwindling investment
If you think publishers are frustrated, you should talk to these advertisers. How do they connect with their consumers when we’re all off in our worlds and fast-forwarding / page flipping / and out-right avoiding even when their ads do come on.
What the law of diminishing returns could not influence, the deep recession has. Now the advertiser exodus, too, is under way. As of mid-February, 71% reported having slashed their 2009 budgets, and 6% more said the cuts were on their way.
How does American enterprise thrive if it can’t connect with consumers?
It’s the under-addressed question in this snowballing crisis. When we talk about consumers paying for content, we skip over how brands get into the conversation. Can we really rely on WOM networks to do the work of mass advertising? Do we all want to turn into blathering mouthpieces for our favorite brands?