One of the most significant forces driving change in the Advertising and Media industry is the empowerment of the individual to broadcast message to a mass audience. It used to be a real privilege to be “published”. Being a “published author” carried a certain clout signifying that you had been deemed worthy to influence others by presenting your ideas on a mass stage. Over the past ten years, piece by piece, the barriers that stood in between “the individual” and “the masses” have deteriorated. Blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Craigslist, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace (etc…) are all tools that give the individual the power to reach a limitless audience (for free). This has been extremely positive and empowering for individuals who can now share their talent with the world by posting videos on YouTube or keeping a blog. However, this has been somewhat bad news for advertisers. Because there are so many more people broadcasting messages through social media, and advertiser, who used to only have a few choices for how to reach consumers (a handful of popular magazines and 3 television networks), now has to deal with a much more fragmented media landscape.
When Elvis went on the Ed Sullivan show for the first time in 1956, 82.6% of US households tuned in to watch the show – there just weren’t that many choices, everyone was watching and advertisers only had to be in one place to reach a mass audience. Now, even the most popular TV broadcast (the Super Bowl) only draws around 40% of US households. Technology, and the proliferation of advanced ways for individuals to communicate has made life better for individuals, but much more challenging for advertisers who now have to use a larger quantity and greater variety of media vehicles to reach their desired audience.