In the age of effortless two-way communication through the digital medium, where brands and consumers are talking to each other directly and co-creating new ideas, the relevance of traditional media often comes under the scanner. Sceptics even wonder whether traditional media advertising is threatened by obsolescence. However, the panel of experts at CII Brand Summit 2010 dismissed such speculation and predicted that traditional media would stay relevant, at least for the time being.
Rahul Welde, vice-president, media services, Asia AMET, Unilever, Singapore -- one of the panellists at the second session of the event -- unravelled the relevance of traditional media in today's life, while simultaneously highlighting the increasing popularity of new media.
Contrary to the popular belief that traditional media is losing relevance in the wake of new media, Welde stated that traditional media is far from dead, in spite of social media gaining momentum. However, he did raise concerns about the print industry, which, according to him, will be up for the challenge. "Mass media in every form is alive. Globally, over 90 per cent advertising goes to traditional media. TV is far from being dead. It has great potential. All good stories and great shows travel smoothly across the seven seas."
TV worldwide, Welde said, is growing and adapting. It is becoming bigger and better, in terms of content and technological brilliance. And the Asia Pacific region is no exception. "I feel the best of movies have been created in the last five years. Films like Avatar are the best possible thing that could have happened in terms of technology. TV in Asia is growing, not going, in terms of content, channels, segments and technological advancement. It has stable or growing viewership, which still enjoys TV programmes, loves cricket, watches news, etc. As marketers, our focus should be consumers. If consumers are still hooked to TV, we do not have much reason to worry."
However, he pointed out that although TV does good business, it is somehow losing influence over its viewers, who are busy multitasking, even while in front of the TV set. It is no more the medium that people spend maximum time with. Apart from TV, another important component of mass media -- the internet -- is also showing signs of growth, confirmed Welde.
On the other hand, Welde acknowledged the popularity and potential of social media. "A huge number of networks have mushroomed over time, sharing info, photos, videos, crowd sourcing and relay building. Social media, which had a humble start in the form of celeb fan clubs, has today become a must-have for all. It is the huge number of people joining it everyday, which is making heads turn. Also, what's interesting is that people do not stay content with one networking site. They keep on becoming members of different networks at the same time."
According to Welde, social media is exploding due to several reasons -- it's entertaining, engaging, omnipresent, informative, immediate, and often, anonymous.
G Krishnan, executive director and CEO, TV Today Network Limited seconded Welde's opinion that social media has made mass media all the more democratic in its approach. While speaking to afaqs!, he added that its ability to provide a platform to people to express themselves, and also its role in bringing together people with similar interests, will help social media stay relevant for quite some time.
Krishnan also dismissed speculation about the phasing out of traditional media. According to him, any medium that remains relevant to the market would be able to survive competition. "Social media is relevant, as it is a practical tool, which helps us go beyond demographics and track consumers as per their behaviour and interests. On the other hand, good content in mass media is also attracting eyeballs and keeping it relevant."
Dr Saul J Berman, partner, Global & Americas business strategy leader, IBM Business Consulting Services, USA, who was among the speakers in the concluding session on the first day of the event, presented an international perspective on the future of a traditional medium like TV. He observed that in western countries like the US, the internet, especially online videos, have cannibalised on TV to quite some extent.
"A lesson should be taken from the music industry in the US, where although the value of the industry didn't change, the people making money did change over the time. So, as dollars continue to migrate towards digital, TV needs to provide reasons, call for new ways of marketing and work out new business models," he advised.