Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Uh-oh, here comes Media 3.0

Media executives struggling to wrap their minds around Web 2.0 may be distressed to know they ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Several media kibitzers, including yours truly, believe Web 2.0 is merely a transitional stage on the way to a new era I cleverly call Media 3.0. I use the term “Media 3.0,” as opposed to “Web 3.0,” because the term is technologically agnostic and the web, imposing as it is today, could be supplanted some day by a new technology as radically different as HTML was to hot metal.

Media 3.0 will turn absolutely upside-down the classic one-to-many model of Media 1.0, replacing it with a many-to-one paradigm in which news, entertainment and advertising are delivered in a uniquely individualized fashion to all but the most technologically recalcitrant consumers.

The paradigm shift will be enabled by significant future technology developments in such areas as artificial-intelligence software, database systems, media-compression algorithms, network architecture, mobile platforms and nanotechnologies capable of delivering vast computing power to more diverse and tiny platforms than we can imagine today.

The potential impact on consumers, media companies and advertisers is detailed in a new white paper I have written, which is too long to publish here but freely available via email (don’t forget to change the “[at]” to an “@”). Here are a few of the key implications for traditional and new media companies:

:: Media companies can succeed in the future only by enabling their content, as well as any associated advertising, to be acquired on an individualized, ad-hoc basis by consumers.

:: As the large and “sticky” audiences traditionally enjoyed by Media 1.0 companies continue to fragment, they will become increasingly devalued in the eyes of most advertisers. Media companies must develop sophisticated systems to marry targeted commercial messages with content wherever and whenever it is consumed.

:: Mass-market advertising, which already is in the process of being supplanted by targeted and verifiable keyword advertising, will migrate to contextual systems that deliver precisely tuned messages to individuals on the verge of ordering a pizza, buying a car or booking a vacation.

You may be shocked to hear that not everyone happens to agree with me.

“There are a lot of constituencies trying to hijack the term Web 3.0,” one Gartner research analyst told a recent forum in Las Vegas, as reported by Network World. “It’s not going to be another era like Web 2.0,” said Gene Phifer, another Gartner guy. “However, there will be some very interesting innovative things coming out. If you’re in love with numbering schemes, maybe it’s Web 2.1.”

“The term Web 2.0 is in fact just a marketing ploy,” responds Nova Spivack, the founder of a stealth Media 3.0-type company called Radar Networks. “Web 3.0 actually does refer to a set of new technologies, and changes they will usher in during the third decade of the Web (2010-2020). Chief among these is the Semantic Web. The Semantic Web is actually not one technology, but many. Some of them such as RDF and OWL have been under development for years, even during the Web 2.0 era, and others such as SPARQL and GRDDL are recent emerging standards. But that is just the beginning.”

Nova’s commentary goes on to get more technical from there. Even if you don’t know your OWL from your GRDDL, the point is that big changes in technology in the next decade are going to cause even more disruptive changes in the media business than anything we have seen to date.

The traditional media companies were completely blind-sided by the web and its associated implications. Though their historic market dominance has been weakened today by the continuing onslaught of new media companies ranging from Market Watch to iTunes to You Tube, the old media remain big and healthy enough to architect, fund and implement the sort of cutting-edge initiatives that could enable them to survive in the Media 3.0 era.

This is their best chance to get it right. But also their last.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Luke Redd said...

Alan, thank you again for your white paper. I enjoyed reading it, and I think you've hit the nail on the head with much of it. My own thoughts on the future of media waver nearly every day. In terms of where the technology is leading us, I agree with your assessment.

However, when I look at the larger picture, I can't help but feel that one of the biggest reasons for the decline in newspapers and other traditional media is the decline in quality/relevant journalism and its credibility.

Increasingly what we are being fed, both online and through traditional media, is nothing more than opinion. Even what passes for important news is nowadays little more than sponsored propaganda (see
the lead-up to the Iraq war). And now most news formats are simply infotainment, often-times giving importance to a story like Britney's botched rehab, as opposed to coverage of a huge protest. I have finally written off the traditional television news media after watching last weekend's horrible performance by Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes "interviewing" The Iranian president.

I think a growing number of people have lost trust in the traditional media, and therefore now have more time to spend online. Still, I think the issue of credibility and integrity will affect online media in the future in much the same way unless media owners wake up and realize that content with integrity still rules.

In short, I still believe that traditional media offer benefits that online formats cannot, and there will be a place for each format in the future, but the dollars will be more spread out because of it.

Those that survive after the Media 3.0 shakeout will not just be the ones who implemented the technology best, but also the ones who offer content that can be trusted farther than I can throw George W's little doggie. Traditional brands like 60 minutes and the New York Times will not be around in that new landscape with the kind of garbage they've offered up of late.

Then again, as you showed so well in your paper, these brands may not exist in the new landscape anyway given that advertisers are demanding formats that allow for accountability, precise targeting,and trackability. To me, WWW still stands for Wild Wild West, so anything can happen. One thing's for sure. These are interesting
times for everyone in media, and that includes the consumers of it.

1:40 PM  

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