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Media Convergence and the Revolution in Marketing and Brand Building

I attended the presentation on Media Convergence and the Revolution in Marketing and Brand Building (Milken Institute). Edgar Bronfman Jr. (Warner Music) and Mike Kelly (AOL) (among others) explored the changing role of marketing and branding in a decentralized society. As goes media, so goes education. A few key ideas presented (not saying that I agree with all of them):

  • We are still at an infancy (or at most adolescent) stage in transitioning media to this new environment (of end-user in control).
  • The mandate for marketing is “how can I facilitate a commitment from the consumer so they will stay with me” – i.e. community is key
  • Business models need to be rethought…the three “buckets” of media – content, distribution, and aggregation are all changing by who controls and who contributes in the process.
  • In a fragmented world – if something goes wrong with a product or service – the user has the ability to have a voice and apply leverage to the business or organization in question. You can’t drive the conversation anymore…your image is defined by end users.
  • Media/marketing era is over. But consumers like convenience and they like free. As soon as you think you can charge for something, someone will come along with an ad-supported business and give it away for free.
  • There will be a return of the intermediary – now you have tsunami of information that hits, then you need companies that people trust to sort out the information for them. People will pay to help connect the dots.
  • …and the million dollar question: How do you harness fragmentation? (though one could ask, if harnessing is the right approach – especially in education).

I asked the panelists what specifically the media companies (music, AOL, video) need to do to gain user trust (most panelists presented a good picture of the nature of the problem, but clear directions for making the transition to a “new media” company were lacking). A long history of antagonism with the end user has resulted in distrust. I personally trust a peer-filtered system (like fellow bloggers in my learning network). The responses were essentially unsatisfying. The panelists, while providing insightful dialogue, didn’t leave me inspired or confident that their organizations were able to move beyond understanding changes to making the transition.