Convergent Media Essay: The Phenomenon of Digital Media Convergence in relation to Advertising & New Media
‘Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to Advertising & New Media. The essay should use at least one real-world example as a case study for discussing digital media convergence. Use the lectures and readings on digital media convergence to provide the context for more specific research on your selected week.’
Henry Jenkins defines convergence as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want.” The 21st century phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to advertising and new media has seen a distinct shift in the way marketing efforts are disseminated through increasingly fragmented and nomadic audiences. Through an analysis of the decline of traditional television advertising methods and a renewed emphasis placed on content branding, or embedded advertising in television programmes and music videos as well as viral advertising, it becomes evident that the advertising and media industries have converged; identifying a number of opportunities which have developed within the modern media sphere.
As the media industry converges, traditional methods of television advertising are decreasing in effectiveness. Television was once considered the heart of advertising, however as consumers splinter across multiple new media platforms advertisers have required revised marketing strategies. Embedded advertising, or content branding is a process whereby advertisers implant their brand/message in specific television shows, movies, music videos ect. This tendency to advertise through other media platforms has arisen from the development of on-demand services. Sheehan emphasis that “we no longer schedule our lives around our favourite television show” indicating that consumers at large are now fragmented, and advertisers cannot assume their consumption of advertising efforts at a certain place or time. He describes how the “use of pull technology such as TIVO and web-based programs makes it possible to avoid commercials aired”; epitomising the obsolete nature of some traditional advertising methods. Although ‘event television’ such as season finales and football grand finals still commands massive audiences and is still a viable form of traditional advertising, scheduled broadcasting is ever decreasing in popularity, therefore advertising efforts have to adapt to be more individualised and accessible in a digitally converged media sphere.
Advertisers nowadays are more and more relying on methods such as viral advertising campaigns in order to disseminate their advertising efforts, due to the ad hoc consumer behaviour cultivated by new media. Viral campaigns are popular due to their ability to spread over a range of media platforms and social networks in order to reach a large consumer base, at a significantly lower cost than purchasing advertising space. The 2007 advert released by Cadbury featuring a drum playing gorilla is one example of the effectiveness of viral campaigns. The clip was first released as a television commercial in the UK during the popular season finale of ‘Big Brother.’ By utilising the crowd drawing ability of ‘event television’ the advertisement was able to be viewed by a number of consumers, who then took advantage of digital convergence by uploading the clip to YouTube to be viewed and shared around the globe. According to Steven M. Edwards “traditional advertising activities are amplified through social media and come out the other end more powerful”; this notion typifies social networks as a crucial platform in the 21st century for advertisers to disseminate information. The advertisement was soon downloaded and remastered by many users, illustrating another key characteristic of 21st century media consumers; as stated by Sheehan “many online consumers are not content with accessing and viewing... consumers want to interact with message content by adding... or repurposing.” The media and advertising industries are no longer bound by materiality, or focus on localised markets; rather ‘global transmission’ through the World Wide Web and social networking sites has rendered a trans-national audience highly accessible. Consumers are now considered to be major media distributers, as media grows exponentially through interconnected portals, allowing advertising efforts to reach a greater number of culturally hybrid people at lower costs. Viral advertising is just one modern method advertisers manipulate in order to “cut through the clutter” and have their campaigns actively sought out by consumers over various media platforms.
In addition, content branding is another approach often adopted by advertisers in the 21st century in order to overcome the phenomenon of increasingly fragmented and individual consumers. Spurgeon describes consumers within a digitally convergent framework as “increasingly distracted, distrustful and disinterested” and suggests that “advertises creatively embed messages in media flow.” ‘Masterchef’ is just one example of this method; advertisers place their brand name and products in the show, allowing them to manipulate the audience into believing they are the most suitable products to use in the kitchen. The show advertises many different brands including Masterfoods, Coles and Qantas; all through product placement, which then are viewed by an average of two million viewers, six nights a week. This method addresses another consumer characteristic described by Sheehan “consumers increasing reliance on word of mouth and peer reviews for all manner of goods... has led to lack of credibility for advertising among consumers.” The audience is led to believe that the products are being ‘recommended’ by the hosts and contestants of the show.
This method of embedded advertising is also evident in the music industry through the manipulation of music videos, allowing advertising to spread across sites such as YouTube and Facebook. Avril Lavigne’s music video for ‘What the Hell’ is a pertinent example of this; the clip features promotional material for Converse, Abbey Dawn and Sony as well as a number of other companies. Both examples demonstrate an increasing convergence between the advertising and entertainment industries; a trend often termed the meeting of ‘Madison and vine’ (Spurgeon). This is a mutually beneficial process which allows the industries to sustain one another through product placement. The manipulation of branded content is a prime example of how advertisers have overcome one of the challenges of a convergent environment and exploited the opportunities of new media in order to target a ‘new millennium market’ which is highly differentiated, individualised and flexible.
In conclusion, the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to advertising and new media has seen a distinct shift in the way marketing efforts are disseminated through an increasingly fragmented yet global audience. Advertisers in the 21st century aim to either embed their messages in a range of media flows, such as television and music videos or market virally so that audiences are more likely to seek out the content in a world of ‘pull technology.’ Hence, it is evident that in this modern media sphere there is a range of challenges and opportunities facing the media and advertising industries, however through a convergence of the two, both industries are able to thrive and prosper.
Edwards, S. (2011) Journal of Interactive Advertising: A Social Media Mindset, Temerlin Advertising Institute at Southern Methodist University, Vol 12 No 1.
Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture, New York University Press, pp. 1-24
Sheehan, K & 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.
Spurgeon, C. (2008) Advertising and New Media, Oxon, Routledge, pp.24-45
YouTube. (2011). Avril Lavigne - What The Hell. [Online Video]. 21 January. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQmEd_UeeIk. [Accessed: 29 August 2012].
YouTube. (2007). Cadbury's Gorilla Advert Aug 31st 2007. [Online Video]. 31 August. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnzFRV1LwIo. [Accessed: 28 August 2012].
YouTube. (2007). cadburys gorilla plays nirvana. [Online Video]. 14 September. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgKtVFnsL-Y. [Accessed: 28 August 2012].
YouTube. (2011). Masterfood Masterchef. [Online Video]. 03 July. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASAU7q9ypoM. [Accessed: 29 August 2012].