In less than a decade, media consumption has dramatically changed. Apologies for that obvious statement, but when you think about it, it is insane how fast it changed, compared to how long traditional media dominated. There is extensive explanation of this shift — Moore’s law, broadband speed — so I want to focus on what actually changed, and what didn’t.
Facebook and Snapchat are your new providers of light, on-demand entertainment — the new MTV. You fire them when you need to unplug for a bit, and you might not see any breathtaking content in there. For amazing pieces, you can go to Netflix and Youtube for long and less long-form content — kind of like movie theaters, DVDs and premium cable.
Interested in live news? Twitter is real-time and effective when curated. Almost entirely replaced TV/radio/daily papers in my news consumption habits. People also love to flip through pages of magazines — now they scroll down their Instagram and Tumblr feeds for a great mix of pictures and topics. Think Vogue’s glossy pages.
What is striking is that all these channels are image-first: text and audio become secondary — even Twitter works better with images. Also, content is getting shorter and shorter: tweets, snapchats, youtube videos… One could argue that “short” is the direct consequence of “image-first”, as it is a lot faster to communicate through images compared to text and audio.
We often hear that new media is You for You by You i.e. user-generated content. What I see is that the most popular content on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, Instagram is created by a small group of organizations/power users. You don’t have to create — you can simply consume/unplug, just like good old TV.
Media became more visual, attention spans got shorter, but the content itself remains the same: news and entertainment created by a few, for the masses to consume and feel like they belong. Now one thing that really changed is the challenge for advertisers: they can’t just shout during breaks (TV, radio, papers, movies…). Advertising design needs to adapt.