TV’s demise = niche marketing, a caveat

Cory Treffiletti over at MediaPost likes to stir things up, and he’s doing it today with an interesting spin board posting on the demise of network television. Cory gives the nets five years.

As the quality of network programming continues to be supplanted by cable programming, the audience will continue to look for topics of interest to them individually. As the audience aggregation that network television once provided whittles away, it will be necessary for advertisers to utilize a mix of synergistic, targeted media to reach their audience. This means that cable television and Internet advertising provide the strongest opportunity to reach a targeted audience in a cross-media manner with both the power and emotion of television, as well as the interactivity and level of engagement from Internet placements.
He predicts the networks will become a flighted medium, only able to produce a sufficient mass audience during special programming, like the Super Bowl. (Of course, why should we assume the NFL will need anybody besides themselves to transmit the game in the future?)

I support Cory’s basic assumptions, but like most marketeurs, he thinks of the Internet only in niche marketing (targeted) terms. Niche marketing is a fun, new fad, but great care must be exercised when applying it to the Internet. Why? Because the Internet isn’t a medium; it’s a place. It’s true that it possesses medium elements, but to view it as just a(nother) medium limits its potential. It can also produce mistakes, because you deal with people differently in a place than you do through a medium. Transparency is the code for anybody wishing to do business here, because people can choose their own influences.

Marketeurs can accept the idea that mass marketing is dying only if it can be replaced by another formulaic push strategy. Niche marketing is just mass marketing in different clothes. Instead of pushing to a large mass, you’re pushing to a small mass. The Internet just isn’t very push-marketing friendly, despite the sincere efforts of a lot of folks to make it such.

As the beloved Doc Searls wrote long ago, “Markets are conversations.” Welcome to the marketplace.

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