Media in the 21st Century: The Great Melding Pot
Survey Reveals Media Channel Lines Continue to Blur
This melding of media means the content deliverables that were once owned by a specific medium are now found on nearly all platforms - a shift that has helped create an increasingly participatory and fragmented media landscape.
The survey, conducted in late 2008 and released today by Ketchum and the
This burgeoning participatory media landscape means media audiences are having just as much influence, if not more, than the content providers themselves.
"If you look at sites like Amazon, for instance, and read through the product reviews, what you'll find is not only are people posting their thoughts via consumer-generated reviews, but they are also responding to each other's comments. The effect is the creation of pockets of social networks found all over the Web," said
"These networks extend beyond consumer-generated reviews on shopping Web sites," Scibetta said. "Conversations among readers, information seekers, and reviewers can be found on sites from established outlets such as The
The Media Myths & Realities survey, an annual study now in its third year, examines consumer use of more than 40 media channels, ranging from newspapers to podcasts. The Media Myths & Realities research has been conducted by Ketchum in partnership with the
"The results of this survey confirm that it's an exciting time to be a part of media in the 21st century," said
The Melding of Media Means More Fragmented Use
Consumers are using a wider variety of channels than ever before. Newer channels, such as blogs and social networking sites, are gaining more and more traction. The survey found that 26 percent of consumers use social networking sites, compared to 17 percent in 2006. The usage of blogs nearly doubled (24 percent in 2008 compared to 13 percent in 2006).
This is especially true among influential consumers - the 10 to 15 percent of the population who initiate change in their communities - of which 43 percent read blogs by nonjournalists (compared to 16 percent of the general population) and 32 percent read blogs written by journalists (8 percent of the general population).
Conversely, the use of more established media channels continues to wane. The survey revealed that 65 percent of consumers use major network television news as a source of information (down from 71 percent in 2006). Local television news saw a sharper drop - 62 percent in 2008 compared to 74 percent in 2006.
This fragmentation gives rise to more melding across media lines, said Swerling.
"As we've watched traditional mass communications give way to communications controlled by the masses, one of the greatest impacts of newer media formats, such as blogs and news feeds, is that they've given people additional channels through which to access established sources," Swerling said. "All channels can now link with one another, allowing more collaboration and participation than ever. The melding of media is also demonstrated in the actions of legacy media, which are continuing to embrace and implement the principles of new media. Conversely, the journalistic principles that underline news organizations - accuracy, timeliness, objectivity and so forth - will move to other delivery channels. Regardless of where we get our information, we want the source to be credible."
Search Engines Important as Ever in Melded Media Landscape
Search engines are maturing as a medium, becoming a ubiquitous source of information among consumers - from younger generations, to early adopters, to "surfing seniors." Search is now a daily part of our lives - it is how we gather information.
"The more media melds, the more search engines will continue playing a prominent role in our daily lives," said Gur Tsabar, Ketchum's vice president for Interactive Strategies. "That's why we're now viewing Google as not just a search engine, but rather as one of the world's largest publications. In a highly blurred media environment, search engines are consistently proving themselves as one of the most reliable forms of media for the masses."
The use of search engines has remained steady over the last year - 59 percent of consumers use them regularly (compared to 60 percent in 2007). In addition, consumers awarded search engines a credibility score of 7.0 (on a 10-point scale), which was a step forward from 2007, when they scored 6.5.
Companies that do not have a search strategy are missing a great opportunity to reach consumers quickly and efficiently. In the U.S., 70 percent of influencers use search engines to gather information, which ranks third in a list of most-used sources of information, after local newspapers (74 percent of influencers) and major network television news (72 percent of influencers).
"Consumers expect that search engines will deliver all the relevant information on any given subject, so if a company's point of view doesn't turn up in a search result, it will likely be missed by those who aren't inclined to go directly to a company Web site," Tsabar noted.
Word-of-Mouth, Whether In-Person or Online, Is Critical
Advice from family and friends is a significant source of information, with 47 percent of U.S. respondents saying they rely on this advice. Furthermore, when it comes to making critical decisions, the survey found consumers routinely turn to family and friends first for information on products and services.
"Knowing that advice from family and friends is perceived as authentic and credible, companies that can effectively tap into a word-of-mouth network in an organic and transparent way can reap great benefits for their brands," said Scibetta.
The survey also highlighted several key differences in media consumption between the general population and influencers. These include:
- Use of search engines - influencers 70 percent, general population 57 percent
- Use of nonjournalist blogs - influencers 43 percent, general population 16 percent
- Use of video-sharing Web sites (such as YouTube) - influencers 43 percent, general population 25 percent
- Use of specialty information portals (such as WebMD) - influencers 29 percent, general population 16 percent
- Influencers also use more new media such as videocasts (19 percent), RSS news feeds (15 percent), podcasts (12 percent), and mobile media (9 percent)
In addition, the survey identified key differences in the ways people consume media in the U.S. compared to the U.K. and
About the Survey
The survey compares the media usage habits of 1,000 adult Americans (including 200 influential citizens, or "influencers" - the 10 to 15 percent of the population who initiate changes in their community or society through a variety of activities) and 500 communications industry professionals.
In the U.K. and
The survey was conducted through online distribution at various times
About the University of
A communications innovator, Ketchum ranks among the largest global public relations agencies, operating in more than 50 countries. With five global practices - Brand Marketing, Corporate, Healthcare, Food and Nutrition, and Technology - and specialty areas that include Access Communications (high- and consumer-tech PR), Concentric Communications (experiential marketing, events and meetings), MMG (clinical trial recruitment), Ketchum Global Research Network,
About Bournemouth University Media School
The Media School at Bournemouth University (BU) is the largest centre of professional higher education for the media and communications industries in the U.K. Its reputation for studies in public relations, advertising, journalism and media production plus its research and knowledge transfer activities have a track record dating back 25 years. Through its Centre for Excellence in Media Practice, BU's Media School is pioneering professional media higher education. According to The Guardian University Guide (2009), BU is the highest rated new university in the U.K. http://media.bournemouth.ac.uk/
SOURCE Ketchum Public Relations