Monday, 27 October 2008

The 8th Mass Media - how does that work?

Been thinking about this one for a while, and this isn't the right answer (it is just a view on what there will still be for a buying agency to take commission on in 10 years time), but it is a better question than the ones that ITV seem to be asking themselves at the moment.

Ok, so if the 7th Mass Media is mobile, as Tomi & Alan have explained, then the 8th will be Us. The theory is David Cushman's, and it isn't just another big up to UGC: it isn't the content that defines Us as a new media channel, it is the fact that people are now a distribution medium with equivalent broadcast potential to the other mass media. This can change the game, as content producers have traditionally funded production by monetising distribution.

Now, soon after reading a post related to this, I had one of those random chain emails forwarded from a friend promising me lots of money. You know the kind: someone, usually Microsoft, are experimenting with viral emailing, and will pay you a certain amount for each person that you forward this on to, and then more for everyone they forward it on to. Pretty basic pyramid selling scamology, which only works because it comes from a friend, it is easy to ignore, and you don't want to be the one who misses out if it does come true one day.

Thing is, at the time I was looking for more details on a
new report on PVRs that had just been published by Oliver Wyman Research. This suggests that across the US, UK and Japan, 85% of PVR owners skip at least 75% of all TV advertising. This will come as no surprise to anyone who owns a Sky+ box - i know i can't remember the last time I watched a TV ad anywhere other than YouTube. However if you are an advertiser who relies on impartial advice from their media agency (who make their money from commision from TV advertising) or the marketing press, in articles based on research from, if not actually written by, Thinkbox (who make their money from....oh) then you could be forgiven for thinking that hardly anyone wants to avoid those beautiful expensive 30" spots.

That got me thinking about whether the pyramid spam is a viable medium. Not through email, but as a means to monetise the huge scale that Facebook et al have built over the last few years. What if we could incentivise people to watch our ads through a pyramid commission structure? If you can make £0.01 per view of an ad that you have forwarded, not just by the people you have forwarded it on to, but by everyone else downstream of them, then all those 1p's will add up. In fact, if everyone forwards it on to 10 people, who forward it on to 10 people, then by level 8 we have 100m ad impacts at £1.11 per thousand.

This could maybe split down between the network (ie the people who view content and share it) and the platform that they share it on (social network or whatever), but the really neat part is that £0.01 really isn't that much. So if the content isn't any good, no-one will be missing out on much by not forwarding it to anyone.Which will reward innovative, risk-taking advertising. So it is really short-form branded entertainment (a bit like a viral really, but with a kick start), which is good because it will stop rumours about the death of advertising, and help speed up the death of bad advertising, which is a much better idea.

Like I said, this isn't a right answer, but it's an interesting question.....


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