This is our response to a thoughtful post by Mullen’s Edward Boches, who suggests that Gen Y will change media and marketing forever.
Let me suggest the radical answer of “No.”
Yes, marketing will evolve, but I think, Edward, you take today’s tech trend line too far. Let me challenge your hypothesis that “as the first generation of so-called digital natives gets older … their media habits will force marketers to change strategies and tactics even more rapidly.”
First, social media is not replacing mass media. The social media Kool-Aid drinkers should pause and reread that line. Adults 18-24 today watch 210 minutes of live television a day — vs. 336 for adults 45-54 and 421 minutes for adults 65+ — less than their older peers, but not nothing, and still an almost obscene amount of 3 hours and 30 minutes a day. This represents almost one-half of all young adults’ media use. Now, within the migrating wave of social media, much of it is similar entertainment — consuming videos on Hulu and YouTube, watching video games as they wiggle controls. It’s important to look at the entire entity of consumer behavior when building campaigns, and old media cannot be ruled out as “replaced” by new media. Instead, much of what we see are simple shifts in formats, with similar consumption modalities inside.
Second, there is no creativity revolution. Why? Creation and collaboration have always been part of human activity — this is nothing new. The pianos people once circled around in homes in the 1920s were devices people used to make music; churches were the weekly aggregation of storytelling and pageantry; dances are where people used to throng to express themselves. Humans have always had two concurrent needs, to watch entertainment from afar (campfires and TV) and to share stories and create their own entertainment (guitars and YouTube). If anything, sociologists could worry that modern Americans are *less* creative than their forebears because they spend more time passively watching video and playing video games than running outside to create their own entertainment, or playing instruments that require hard practice.
So the real answer is more nuanced. Yes, media is changing, because it always has. Yes, humans create and share, because we always do. The fragmentation of television in the 1980s forced marketers to consider one-to-one marketing in the 1990s; the rise of millions of sites on the Internet in the 1990s led marketers to chase content portals or search engines in the early 2000s; the rise of simple social-media creation interfaces in the past few years has people now worried about curation and viral propagation. These are all important steps forward. The challenge for us in the ad industry is not to believe every minor shift is a paradigm revolution, because today’s Twitter is tomorrow’s fax machine, just another tool for people to do what they’ve always done. Watch and share.
Image: Brian Richardson