The Future of Media Incrementally Unfolds

One of my favorite events of Advertising Week is the Future of Media Panel which took place this year at NYU on October 3. This year’s group of panelists ranged from advertisers to agencies to content platforms to gaming companies and each offered their opinions as to where they see the media landscape over the next few years. 

Last week I wrote about my habit of predicting the future of media using the side-view mirror,where objects appear closer than they actually are. This week I leave it to others to look ahead.

Of course there was a full range of answers from the panel; As much as we would like to think that being immersed in the media gives us the one true answer, it often turns out that we are creatures of our own environment. Agencies speak of the renewed importance of marketing. Social Media companies see the increasing importance of consumer engagement and involvement. Networks predict that television, which currently enjoys the lion’s share of budgets, will become even more interesting in the years ahead.

Among those views that had general consensus -- Content will continue to be a vital element for success, perhaps even leading to more gamification in order to assure engagement. And not just games; There will be added importance to personal and local content that connects with users and viewers. Quality content can come from anywhere, from the professionals as well as the amateurs who create in their basement. Arianna Huffington of the eponymous called it a “hybrid future” where there will be greater collaboration around the content platform. Nigel Morris from Aegis cautioned that change may feel slow but in retrospect you might see how fast change has actually occurred. Storytelling, especially as it informs a brand, will increase in importance as Tony Pace of Subway concluded that a brand is, in fact, a collection of multiple stories.

But has anything really changed in the process of predicting of the future of media? Weren’t we all talking about the digitization of media a decade ago? Eric Hirschberg from Activision summed it up; “My conclusion is that media unfolds incrementally and I think there is an addiction editorially to thinking about revolution - To think about something that will render obsolete everything that has come before it in its wake. That rarely happens. What usually happens is that new tools and new creative opportunities emerge. It is more important how you respond to these incremental changes than being able to predict them.”

Well put. Let me check my side-view mirror to see how close these incremental changes are to accelerating change in the media landscape. 

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