I got back from a great 3-day weekend of camping, where no TV was watched for 60 straight hours. I then saw a story in the Times & Transcript about how more and more people are consuming their “television” on the Web (I use quotes because if it’s not being “telecast,” it’s not really “television,” is it?). That made me think of this graph I came across a couple of years ago when I was doing research for a presentation I did for an e-commerce symposium at the Sobey School of Business. It shows the total viewership of all networks’ evening TV news shows. I’m too lazy to look up current stats, but I think we can safely assume that the trend has continued and likely accelerated.
When more and more people turn to alternate sources for what they consider to be the “truth,” then the power of traditional media to influence our thinking is diminished almost to vanishing. It used to be that when a revolution started, the first thing that the rebels tried to take control of was the radio station, the TV studio, and the printing press. Now everybody with a computer and a WordPress account (or a Facebook page, or a YouTube membership) has as much information sharing capability as those things put together. You can no longer “control” a message through mainstream media. In fact, it’s tough to say which media are “mainstream” any more.
This is why traditional advertising, by itself, simply does not cut it today. Sure, you can buy an ad during the Super Bowl broadcast, and eleventy chinchillion people will see it. But they won’t believe it until it’s been verified by their alternate information sources, and those are almost all online.