DIGITAL MEDIA CONVERGENCE: CHANGING CONSUMER HABITS AND CHALLENGES FOR THE ADVERTISING INDUSTRY
Hamish Chapman – 42457610
Jenkins defines media convergence as “the flow of media across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences” (Jenkins, 2009). It involves the new ways that media forms are being created, used, altered and shared using technologies with multiple functionalities, as well as the role that consumers play in these processes. This essay will demonstrate how media convergence has changed the way consumers’ access and use media forms, and how advertisers have adapted to these changes in order to reach their target audiences through new media. The smartphone will serve as a case study for investigating digital media convergence and recent changes in new media consumption and marketing.
Dwyer describes media convergence as the coming together of media forms on platforms that were previously used separately (Dwyer, 2010). Using one device to access multiple media, consumers are able to control the time, place and duration of their usage. New media users navigate between media content at a faster rate, and user habits have transformed from “monotasking to multitasking” (Brasel, 2012). This move to the simultaneous access of various media and communication forms has been enabled by technologies such as smartphones, which permit users to communicate privately or via social media, play games, listen to music, watch films and surf the internet. This wide array of functionalities exemplifies media convergence and its goals of accessibility, simultaneity and portability.
With the capacity to take photographs or videos wherever you go and the ability to connect to social media on a portable device, a culture of sharing has developed. It is common practice for Facebook users to take photographs when they are out with their friends and upload them instantly to share with others. Additionally, users often pass on links to other media sources such as blogs, Youtube videos and online newspaper articles and games. This demonstrates the participatory behaviours of new media users that are central to Jenkins’ concept of media convergence (Jenkins, 2009).
Voorveld’s studies investigate how media users’ attention is fragmented by the migratory behaviours possible with multi-functional platforms, and even more so when multiple devices are being accessed at once (Voorveld, 2011). Audiences themselves have become fragmented, since they are now more in control of their media consumption. Sheehan and Morrison describe how “as consumers spend more time online, they spend less time using traditional media...[and] traditional media audiences become fragmented”; they are able to access “niche” sites and sources more specific to their interest, such that there are fewer general audiences (Sheehan and Morrison, 2009). Advertisers have had to create means of overcoming these obstacles and of capturing the attention of audiences whose online behaviours have made them more capable of both avoiding and ignoring advertising.
Spurgeon suggests that “display advertising, search advertising and classified advertising are the three main types of online advertising” and that “advertising in search engines and online directories is the largest, and one of the fasted growing segments of online advertising” (Spurgeon,2008). He writes at length on Google and Yahoo, discussing how the advertisements shown in such search engines are tailored to different users by drawing upon their past search inputs, in order that the advertisements will have greater appeal. This has been one of the most successful and profitable methods of advertising online, with Google auctioning advertising spaces under popular search terms for colossal sums (Spurgeon, 2008).
Hsieh and Chen found that audiences exposed to video advertisements online both paid attention for longer and could recall more content in comparison to advertisements that consisted of text, image or both (Hsieh and Chen, 2011). Spurgeon discusses branded entertainment as a viable way of interesting viewers who have developed the ability to block their minds to overtly advertorial material, discussing BMW Films as an example of the convergence of the film and advertising industries (Spurgeon, 2008). Brasel’s suggestion to advertisers is to use environmental placement of brands and to convey a consistent and simple representation of that brand’s identity across various media, as this will influence consumers to act in consistence with that brand identity when they see its name or logo (Brasel, 2012).
Sheehan and Morrison explain that new media users are more likely to follow the suggestions of their friends and family rather than believe what an advertisement tells them (Sheehan and Morrison, 2009). It is for this reason that media campaigns that go ‘viral’ are so valuable to brands. ‘Going viral’ is a process by which the audience shares and spreads a media text via social media. When users see, for example, that their friends on Facebook have passed on an advertisement or have liked it, it immediately gives it greater legitimacy for that user. Going viral is greatly up to chance, however when it happens it is practically as if the brand is getting free publicity.
Sinclair and Wilken argue that the full potential for the mobile phone as a tool for advertising has not been realised despite the huge increase in the population of mobile phone users. They suggest that mobile phones in the future could have “location-sensitive advertisements” whose highly tailored nature would dispel consumer fears of spam, and that information on users could be sourced even from the conversations they have on programs similar to Skype (Sinclair and Wilken, 2009). For now, however, many countries have laws that prohibit the sending of promotional content unless consent has been given by the user, and the cost of mobile phone advertising also remains an issue for marketers. Already, however, Smart Phone users are exposed to advertising through the social media, games, and other applications that they access.
As smartphones become more advanced and as media forms converge further we may see smartphones becoming an even more central part to our daily media usage than they already are, which will in turn shape the ways in which we are exposed to advertising. As the process of convergence continues, advertisers will constantly have to develop methods of reaching audiences who are leaving mass media forms further behind in favour of options that allow them to tailor their media consumption to their own specific tastes. The challenge for marketers will be to expose audiences in niche markets to their message without being overtly advertorial.
BMW Films, Ambush, (online), available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo5cZhfsP2Y (Accessed 28 August 2012)
Brasel, A (2012) ‘How focused identities can help brands navigate a changing media landscape’ in Business Horizons, vol. 55, is. 3, pp. 283-291
Dwyer, T (2010) Media Convergence, McGraw-Hill, Berkshire pp. 1-23
Hsieh, Y and Chen, K (2011) ‘How different information types affect viewer’s attention on internet advertising’ in Computers in Human Behaviour, vol. 27, is. 2, pp. 935-945
Jenkins, H (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, NY University Press, pp. 1-24
John, P Print Media, One Man’s Blog, viewed 28 August 2012, available at: http://onemansblog.com/2009/11/09/the-geeks-shall-inherit-the-airwaves-why-economics-are-killing-old-media/
Samsung, Samsung Galaxy S3 Commerical “Texting and Watching” (online), available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J790tmM2qAQ (Acessed 28 August 2012)
Sheehan, K and Morrison, D (2009) ‘Beyond Convergence: Confluence culture and the role of the advertising agency in a changing world’ in First Monday, vol. 14, no. 3
Sinclair, J and Wilken, R (2009) 'Waiting for the kiss of life : mobile media and advertising' in Convergence: the journal of research into new media, vol. 15, no. 5, pp. 427 – 445
Spurgeon, C (2008) Advertising and New Media, Routeledge, pp. 24-45
Voorveld, H (2011) ‘Media multitasking and the effectiveness of combining online and radio advertising’ in Computers in Human Behaviour, vol. 27, is. 6, pp. 2200-2206