Friday, August 31, 2012

Digital Media Convergence and Advertising and New Media

Essay Question: Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to Advertising and New Media 

By Matija Simic

    This essay will discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to advertising and New Media. The discussion will explore what is meant by the terms digital media convergence and New Media. It will discuss how, as a result of this phenomena, audiences have fragmented and become more individualised. It will then look at how branded content and branded entertainment are two strategies that advertisers have taken on board to help reach increasingly distracted and individualised target consumers. 

    First of all, what is meant by the terms digital media convergence and new media? Convergence concerns “the process whereby new technologies are accommodated by existing media and communication industries and cultures” (Dwyer 2010, p. 2). These “existing media and communication industries and cultures” are referred to as old media. “When the process is mentioned, invariably it is referencing the intersection of distinct media and information technology systems that have previously been thought of as separate and self contained”(Dwyer 2010, p. 2). As a result, the current media industries are different to their forerunners as they contain numerous forms of delivery and “media platforms” (Dwyer 2010, p. 12). 

    New media technologies have increased the digital spaces and prospects for the creation, distribution and intake of media. Unlike traditional old media, new digital media technologies permit users to enjoy greater control over media and entertainment options (Spurgeon 2008, p. 38). This has forced those in the advertising industry to change the means in which they try to gain the attention of their target audiences. The days where advertisers could be guaranteed that their advertisements would reach a particular audience at a particular time are a thing of the past. The introduction of technologies such as personal video recorders (PVRs) (Spurgeon 2008, p. 38) enable users to record, fast forward, rewind and pause television shows, events, movies etc. The implication here for advertisers is that consumers can also eliminate commercials from their viewing experience. Consumers of new media now access television shows on the internet, smart phones, tablets and other electronic devices and are able to watch them on the go. Here, the phenomenon of digital media convergence and prominence of new media technologies have thus seen “mass media audiences fragment” (Spurgeon 2008, p. 39).

    This fragmentation of mass media audiences has led to changing notions of the consumer and consumer behaviour as consumers are more individualised and differentiated. This inflicts the difficult challenge upon advertisers of attracting the attention of consumers who have a variety of media content and entertainment available to them on various digital platforms. In her book ‘Advertising and New Media’ Christina Spurgeon asserts that “digitization allows the locus of control in media distribution systems to reside with end users, not just at system hubs. Search interfaces facilitate greater end user control over media and entertainment choices, and are daily increasing in sophistication” (Spurgeon 2008, pg 38). Another important fact to consider is that consumers are bombarded with advertising messages on a daily basis. In effect, this “can alert cognitive defenses and foster resentment” within them towards these advertisements and may also provoke them to use tactics that help them avoid advertisements all together in order to assist them in maintaining “some measure of sovereignty over his/her psychic space” (Rumbo 2002, p. 128). Sheehan asserts that consumers are becoming decreasingly loyal to brands and prefer to take in the advice of those closer to them than absorb messages perpetuated by marketers (Sheehan, 2009). The culmination of these factors has facilitated a move by “national advertisers and global brands” to divert pouring large amounts of money into advertising via mass media into “niche media and branded content” to grab the waning attention of consumers (Spurgeon 2008, p. 39). Christina Spurgeon describes branded content “as a continuum of creative advertising possibilities, with product placement, advertorial and infotainment located at one end, and full blown content production at the other” (Spurgeon 2008, p. 27). By using branded content, advertisers aim to prevent themselves being viewed as a source of annoyance and disruption to consumers by incorporating their messages in “media flows and experiences” that their target audience will willingly search for (Spurgeon 2008, p 27). 
    Following similar parallels to branded content, branded entertainment is increasingly being employed to attract the attention of consumers. It is regarded as a significant creative answer to the increase in prominence of search culture (Spurgeon 2008, p. 39). Branded entertainment involves the creation of relationships amongst “advertisers and entertainment companies” and commonly avoids the inclusion of main media as its primary focus (Spurgeon 2008, p. 40). Here, it endeavours to present “brand images” in a manner that is extremely enticing, making the target audience actively search for this and regenerate it in their individual “media and entertainment flows” (Spurgeon 2008, p. 40). An example of this is a collection of advertisements that resembled short films produced by car company BMW. Below is an example of one of these advertisements.

    The viral campaign also embodies what branded entertainment attempts to achieve. An example of a successful viral campaign is the ‘Old Spice’ advertisements created by the advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy for the Proctor and Gamble body wash product. Below is a video of one of the advertisements. 

    An article published in ‘MediaWeek’ at the end of July in 2010, the year the advertisement first aired, states that Old Spice’s YouTube channel boasted over 94 million views and 120,000 subscriptions to the channel (Parpis 2010, p. 16). The same article said that the brand’s twitter page had over 90 000 fans on twitter, over 675 000 Facebook likes and “fan interaction climbing 800 per cent” (Parpis 2010, p. 16). At the same date, the campaign boasted over a billion impressions in the media (Parpis 2010, p. 16). This kind of exposure is free to advertisers and would be very expensive to buy if they were trying to reach their target audience via old media. Most significantly, it blends well with the individualized and unpredictable behaviour that characterizes consumer and audiences today.

    The phenomena of digital media convergence forces advertisers to adopt creative methods to attract increasingly fragmented and individualised consumers. The new notion of individualised consumers have arisen as a result of the various different new media technologies that provide digital spaces and prospects for the creation, distribution and intake of media. Advertisers have taken on board branded content and branded entertainment to help engage with and attract the attention of these consumers. A successful viral campaign can achieve these objectives at a much lower cost compared with traditional campaigns.

Reference List

Dwyer, T. 2010, ‘Introduction’, in T Dwyer (ed.), Media Convergence, McGraw Hill, Berkshire

E39 M5 "Star" Madonna Guy Ritchie BMW Films, online video, accessed 31 August 2012,

Old Spice | The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, 2010, online video, accessed 26 August 2012, <>

Parpis, E. 2010, ‘Spice It Up’, MediaWeek, vol. 20, July, pp. 16, viewed 26 August 2012, EBSCO host database

Rumbo, J.D. 2002, ‘Consumer resistance in a world of advertising clutter: The case of adbusters’, Psychology and Marketing, vol. 19, no. 2, February, pp. 127-148, viewed 26 August 2012, EBSCOhost database.

Sheehan, K. B. & Morrison, D. K., 2009, 'Beyond Convergence: Confluence culture and the role of the advertising agency in a changing world', First Monday, vol. 14, no. 2-3, March

Spurgeon, C. 2008, ‘From the ‘Long Tail’ to ‘Madison and Vine’: Trends in advertising and new media’, in C Spurgeon (ed.), Advertising and New Media, Routledge, Oxon

1 comment:

Matija Simic said...

Hmm I thought I fixed the line spacing in all of my paragraphs. Oh well, too late now.