“Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to advertising and new media…”
The result of social, economic and cultural changes leading to advances in digital technology over time, Digital Media Convergence as "the ability of consumers to obtain multiple services on a single platform or device or obtain any given service on multiple platforms or devices" is a relatively recent phenomenon (Dwyer, 2010, pg. 5). Characterised by the vast availability of media content which allows consumers to sidestep most advertising altogether, Digital Media Convergence has resulted in the need for commercial media outlets to converge and digitalise brands and advertising strategies. The reconfiguring of media corporations and their approaches to new media, advertisers growing reliance upon participatory culture and social media and the growth of 'niche marketing' are all direct results of media convergence and the digital advancements of the last decades.
Transforming Media Industries profoundly, the development of digital media convergence, in which digital devices are inter-connected giving on-demand access to consumers, required immediate reconfigurement from traditional methods of media corporations in order to maintain relevance to their now-digitalised consumer base. Accounting for the mass movement of consumers to the online setting, advertising usage within Corporations in the form of online advertisement have been increasingly developed. To reach a fragmented and individualised, web-based audience, "Media corporations have developed new ways of amassing audiences for the purposes of building and maintaining profitable consumer media cultures" and are simultaneously limiting the usage of old-packaging strategies for audiovisual content (Dwyer, T. 2010, pg. 12) .
Monopolising the media's funded production and distribution markets Corporations often structure arrangements with similarly large businesses to further advance their businesses in the digitalised arena. As a model of adaption to media convergence, Google’s successes both in corporate alliances and advertising alterations provides an ample real-world example of Media Corporations within digitalised setting.The most prominent search engine available freely online, Google as a Media Corporation provides a search system for consumers for almost every event, circumstance, issue or even person! Their greatest source of revenue, Google's offering of search-engine driven advertising known as Adwords, created in 2000, is a key example showing a successful business reconfiguration following technological advancements. Advertising to the highest bidders, Adwords customers choose keywords to represent their business that will appear on the Google site once searched for; this is a definite way to ensure target advertising with Google claiming "you're advertising to an audience who's already interested in you" (Google Corp, 2012, pg. 1) Offering a 'pay-per-click' service to its clientele, Google's Adwords measures the success of the businesses investment online; representing the importance of converging businesses onto a digital scale in order to increase their visibility to consumers in a contemporary context. As "a 21st century model linking buyers with sellers", it is evident through this example that providing localised and personalised online advertising is essential (Google Corp, 2012, pg. 1).
'Participatory Culture' resulting from digital media convergence which allowed greater accessibility of the online media sphere has culminated a "circulation of media content, across media systems, competing media economics and national borders." (Jenkins, 2006, pg. 25). This cultural shift gives consumers greater autonomy in determining what, when and how media content is consumed; with multiple functionality devices blurring the lines between media producers and media consumers. Indeed, it is evident that "convergence involves a change in the way media is produced… and consumed", however the power to produce, distribute and participate within the online sphere is still unequal; with monopolised Corporations ultimately holding greater power to project their media messages to a greater audience (Jenkins, 2006, pg. 25).
The rapid pace of cultural and social change enabled by new media technologies has resulted in "advertising being forced to reconsider consumers relations to brands" and to shift from traditional methods of targeting audiences to strategies that will pertain greater relevance to an online and convergent audience (Jenkins, 2006, pg. 22). With people "encountering many… contradictory media messages in a wide variety of different contexts and across different platforms..." the former role of advertisements as one-way commercial broadcasts to a passive audience is now greatly complicated(Turnball, 2006. pg. 80). As the wider public become increasingly interactive with new media forms, especially social media forums, the ability for individuals to outwardly broadcast their opinions on products, corporations and even commercials themselves poses great threat and great opportunity for advertisers. These YouTube clips showing the Coles 'Prices are Down add' and then the oppossing 'Colworths' Parody are clear examples of the challenges for corporations in producing widespread advertisements.
A key advertising strategy attempting to harness the influence of social media to represent their brand, the 'Viral Campaign' approach, is considered an innovative method of reconnecting "disinterested and distrustful" audiences to Advertisers (Spurgeon, 2006, pg. 44). Often focussed at a particular 'niche market' audience, the viral strategy involves launching an ad campaign online to media outlets with the prospect of consumer popularity driving it through social media websites and, in doing so, gaining recognition within the online sphere and the wider commercial media market. A key example of this process is Vodaphones 'Doug Pitt' campaign. Initially posted on social media site, YouTube, the "Meet Doug Pitt..." clip has gained prominence with over 1,342,700 clip 'hits'. An inexpensive way to project a brands message as well as determine the success of the advertisement, this 'Viral Campaign' has proved effective for Virgin Mobile; with Doug Pitt now appearing on Channel Sevens 'Sunrise' Television show(AUS). Reflecting the values of convergent culture today, the viral campaign relies on consumers sovereignty in watching and sharing this clip.
Unlike prior to the era of digital convergence and new media technologies in which audiences were considered holistic and together in their media-intake, contemporary media audiences are intangible and autonomous; with all consumers reacting and receiving media content in different ways. With media industries including newspapers, radio and the internet deriving greatest revenue from featuring advertising within their forums, rather than from the direct sale of their products to the public, the need to deliver target audiences to advertisers is often considered the primary function of commercial media today (Turnball, 2006, pg. 81).
Faced with the dilemma of "how to track down the relevant audience" amongst the millions of nomadic consumers, advertisers now rely on demographical research on media uses in order to reach a more individualistic and private audience (Turnball, 2006, pg. 79). The wide disparity of consumers due to the vast availability of media technologies and content has overseen a growing desire by advertisers for targeted advertising in the form of 'niche marketing' to communicate products with certain consumers likely to purchase their products. With new media usage allowing for easier tracking of personal interests, tastes and individual demographics of consumers online, this micro-marketing strategy which "concentrates all marketing efforts on a small but specific and well defined segment of the populate" is a key trend resulting from increasing convergence of the media market (Web Finance 'Business Dictionary', 2012, pg. 1). In this current convergent culture, it is guaranteed that "more will be known about our media usage then ever before...", with knowledge of demographics essential in attracting much-needed advertisers towards commercial media outlets (Turnball, 2006, pg. 83).
Disintegrating the barriers between consumers and producers and steering media formats away from traditional broadcasting techniques, digital media convergence provides a platform for greater social commentary. This phenomenon, re-positioning consumer sovereignty as primary, places increasing pressure upon Advertisers to discover innovative ways to deliver their brands to consumers in a way in which will be well-received. Commonplace within contemporary society, Advertisers shift to 'Branded Content' methods including product placement within new media productions, brand sponsorships, advergames and producing 'brand communities' are all key examples of adaption’s to changes within commercial media following digital media convergence (Spurgeon, 2008, pg. 44).
As ones "sense of self... is embedded in their access to and use of various media technologies", the need for brands to advance with their audience into the online and new media setting is indeed essential (Turnball, 2006, pg. 80). With the phenomenon of digital media convergence ultimately morphing commercial media outlets greatly, the changes found within the sphere advertising and uses of new media reflect the underlying social trends and cultural contexts within wider society.
· Spurgeon, C. (2008) “Advertising and New Media” Ozon Routledge pp. 24-45
· Dwyer, T. (2010) “Media Convergence” Mcgraw Hill, Berkshire pp. 1-23
· Jenkins, H. (2006) “Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide” NY University Press
· Meikle, G. Young, S. (2012) “Media Convergence: Networked Digital Media in Everyday Life”, Palgrave Macmillon.
· Turnball, S. (2006) “Audiences” in Stuart Cunningham and Graeme Turner, “The Media and Communications in Australia” (second edition), Allen & Unwin, Sydney.
Real-World Examples and Online Resources
· Google Corporation, (2012) “Adwords”, www.google.com/adwords
· Coles (2012) “Down Down Big Red Hand” TV Ad on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdV4pr4frd4
· Colworths (2011) “Up yours independent Stores” (Parody) on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GauVjALllE4&feature=fvwrel
· VirginMobileAUS (2012) “Meet Doug Pitt…” Viral Ad on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAyTES9gDAU
· JoliePittStop (2012) “Doug Pitt on Today Show… Spokesperson for VirginAus” on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VG8t_o9Rhnw
· Business Dictionary (2012) “What is Niche Marketing?”, Web Finance Corp. http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/niche-marketing.html