Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to one of the following: Advertising & New Media or Music Video Online.
The progression towards digital media as an ephemeral and transportable medium in the form of ‘data’ has proved phenomenal with digital media convergence in relation to ‘new media’ effectively allowing for a heightened surge of media globalization, as media is ultimately a medium which transcends spatial, temporal and cultural boundaries, leading to a global homogenization in terms of media. Yet despite such unprecedented neoliberalism and concentration levels of mainstream media ownership, ‘new media’ and the phenomenon of digital media convergence have changed the very way in which consumers react and utilise media. Consumers have effectively become active, with more choice as to what they watch, when and effectively, how it is presented, due to a proliferation of media and the portability of new technology. Therein lies an ironic duality, as the opposing notions of consumer activity and individuality stand in seemingly direct opposition with mass media notions of globalization and neo-liberalism, yet digital media convergence can be seen as a fluid notion, with both elements combining to form what is seen as ‘new media’ and forcing media conglomerates to rethink traditional advertising methods.
In terms of mass media and advertising, the wave of globalized media has led to greater focus on New media and advertising by global media corporations, as convergence has provided for a greater audience and therefore increased capitalisation of its consumers, as both producers and consumers can portray their message across cultural boundaries due to the convergence of technologies such as translators and multi-national search companies, as evidenced by the widespread domination of Google. This new technology and increases in the liberality of media censorship and availability has ultimately allowed for capitalist conglomerates to globalize, with McChesney suggesting that media is the “transmission belt” for capitalist businesses, allowing them to “market their wares all across the globe”, going so far as to suggest that “globalization as we know it could not exist without it”. As Jenkins suggests, “our ties to older forms of social community are breaking down”, “our rooting in physical geography is diminishing” and our bonds to family and nation disregarded in lieu of a more globalized mindset, illustrating that ‘new media’ allows for a transcendence of traditional cultural, spatial and temporal boundaries.
(The above video stands as an example of the dislocation of cultural barriers aforementioned.)
Yet this is in a sense problematic, as whilst the phenomenon of media convergence has allowed for increased accessibility and a dislocation of cultural boundaries it has consequently provided for global media corporations to emerge as oligopolistic mediums which present a homogenized viewpoint across the world, posing a threat to the sanctity of the notions of democracy and ‘free speech’ prevalent across the majority of the globe. Jenkins suggests that there is an “alarming concentration of the ownership of mainstream commercial media”, with only a small number of multi-national conglomerates controlling the entire entertainment industry. Appadurai suggests that this neo-liberal capitalist surge which rides off the back of ‘new media’ and subsequently alternate forms of advertising utilise language and symbolic hegemonies, whilst McChesney details that as global media corporations utilise the phenomenon of advertising and new media to reach the broad audience that is forged by convergence, they do not allow for smaller, more specific culturally minded media corporations to survive amongst the ‘giants’ of global media, as political boundaries are broken and culture superseded in a Neo-liberalist push for financial gain.
However, therein lies a duality between globalized mass media, and a heightened user activity and consumer choice in the media they take in, due to convergence in digital media. Convergence in digital media has provided for media to effectively become ever-present and seemingly omniscient, with the convergence of internet and journalism allowing for news from anywhere in the globe to be seen anywhere in the globe. Moreover, consumers are able to pick and choose when and where they receive media due to increased portability, such as through the use of programs such as Tivo, enabling consumers to bypass ads and react differently to traditional ‘top-down’ advertisement impositions. Jenkins proposes that ‘knowledge communities’ based on a sense of collective learning are arising, which is dependent upon the production and exchange of knowledge between consumers. Moreover, consumers have not only increased access to media by way of technological convergence, but also a heightened sense of activity and interactivity, ultimately “narrowing the gap between advertisers and customers” . Spurgeon suggests that digitization makes all media “highly searchable”, as the locus of control “resides with the end user, not just at system hubs”, as digital media convergence has played traditional mediums such as radio, television and the print newspaper literally and figuratively in the ‘palm of their hands’. Consumers can access “true niche content online” leading to a ‘fragmentation’ of traditional media audiences. As such, traditional advertising strategies are forced to evolve alongside the phenomenal rise of new media and digital media convergence.
Digital Media convergence and consequently the rise of new media has led to fundamental shifts in the traditional advertising landscape. Media conglomerates are forced to re-evaluate their ‘top-down’ informational or transformational advertisement principles so as to appeal to a market which chooses whether or not to engage in advertisement. The following has seen a substantial rise in the prevalence of ‘brand concepts’ which aim to engage the consumer, wrapping ads in entertaining shells, making consumers want to seek out the advertisement rather than being presented with it. A notable example of both this change in advertising principles and digital media convergence was the unification of ‘Hollywood’ and advertisement inherent in BMW’s ‘The Hire’campaign, a hugely successful advertisement for BMW housed within a series of 8 short films, directed by notable entertainment directors. Moreover, a sure example of the need for advertising to appeal to consumers newfound activity within the process of media consumption, ‘The Hire’ included four short ‘subplot films’ which upon close inspection by intuitive fans led to a party in Las Vegas in which one of the featured BMW cars was given away.
Hence it can be seen that the digital media revolution has had profound and far-reaching consequences politically, economically and culturally. The very way in which media seeks to appeal to its consumers has changed, with advertising moving beyond traditional top-down representations towards more consumer-interactive and ‘entertaining’ principles. Moreover, digital media has allowed for increased globalization, and arguably, homogenization of mass media. Similarly, the way in which consumers engage with media has changed dramatically, faced with increased choice and liberty. The digital media phenomenon has ultimately changed the way in which both consumers, producers and dispersers of media interact, resulting in the wave of ‘new media’ and a change in the way in which advertising is conducted.
McChesney, Robert W (2001) “Global Media, Neoliberalism and Imperalism” in Monthly Review, March 2001, p6.
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Sheehan, Kim. "Beyond Convergence: Confluence Culture and the Role of the Advertising Agency in a Changing World." First Monday 14, no. 3 (2009).
Spurgeon, C. "From the 'Long Tail' to 'Madison and Vine'." Chap. 2 In Advertising and New Media. New York: Routledge, 2008.
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 McChesney, Robert W (2001) “Global Media, Neoliberalism and Imperalism” in Monthly Review, March 2001, p6.
 Henry Jenkins, "The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence," International Journal of Media 7, no. 1 (2004).
 Jenkins, "The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence."
 Arjun Appadurai, "Disjuncture and Difference n the Global Cultural Economy," Public Culture 2, no. 2 (1990).
C Spurgeon, "From the 'Long Tail' to 'Madison and Vine'," in Advertising and New media (New York: Routledge, 2008).
 Kim Sheehan, "Beyond convergence: Confluence culture and the role of the advertising agency in a changing world," First Monday 14, no. 3 (2009).