Without further ado, here are five of the agency’s top 5 media trends for 2019:
1. The growing number of streaming content services make consumers harder to reach. The number of people who stream content as well as the number of apps providing on-demand content is rapidly growing. Already 61 percent of Americans, age 18 to 29, regularly watch or listen to what they want, where and when they want it, according to Pew Research. Apps for CBS, TBS, NBC and ABC are ad supported – only by national brands – but more dominant services including Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, Hulu Plus, YouTube Red, and Spotify Premium are ad-free, putting their subscribers out of reach for marketers.
2. The age of the mass media is mostly over. It’s a niche world now. Partly that’s because marketers can now reach very specific audiences, along with nanoinfluencers, since online media can tailor content by gender, age, interest, political persuasion, etc. (Unfortunately, print media also is increasingly becoming niche, due to an ongoing reduction of the number of pages and size of their news staff combined with an increase in subscription rate.) In 2019, it’s complicated and expensive to reach a broad audience so marketers need to consider targeting key audiences through niche media.
3. The broken business model for news will cause continued problems in 2019, including an increase in “news deserts.” It’s not only print media that will struggle in 2019, online media will struggle, too. The reason: online subscription fees are lower than print subscriptions and online ads generate less money that print ads (even though online ads provide much more useable data). We expect, unfortunately, more layoffs, smaller printer runs, smaller and less frequent issues – both online and in print. In 2019, we're going to see a growing number of "news deserts," defined by the UNC School of Media and Journalism's Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media, as "a community, either rural or urban, with limited access to the sort of credible and comprehensive news and information that feeds democracy at the grassroots level." News deserts are a problem because it means communities aren’t getting critical information related to civic life, government services, etc.
4. Social media will continue to undergo scrutiny and it won’t look good. And despite that, people still won’t quit Facebook, Twitter, etc. amid growing concerns about privacy and disinformation campaigns. We expect Congress and the EU, the UK and other governments to look to regulate social media. But we also expect that most won’t be able to regulate effectively because most politicians don’t have a firm grasp of how social media works. There will be more hearings but not many solutions because it’s a complex issue that algorithms alone can’t solve.
5. More apps will try to combat fake news. Already there are at least a dozen initiatives – with names like The Trust Project, News Integrity Initiative NewsGuard, The Journalism Trust Initiative, Accountability Journalism Program, Trusting News, Trust & News Initiative and the oddly named Media Manipulation Initiative. Many are funded and staffed by journalists and also use algorithms to detect fake news. We hope they succeed but suspect they’ll be as successful as Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter have been to fight hate speech -- which is to say: not very effective but better than nothing. (A.I. will get a lot of attention but trust in algorithm will decline.) In the meantime, Axios’s Jim VandHei offered some suggestions: Stop using the term – it doesn’t help. And people should “Quit sharing stories without vetting them.” (We don’t think that will happen, either.)
In addition to these media predictions, we will roll out additional trends focusing on technology, fintech, artificial intelligence, retailapoclypse, the labor shortage and gig economy, and other topics here on our blog at blog.birnbachcom.com.
Please let us know what you like or disagree with. We'd love to hear from you. As usual, next November, we will evaluate how we did with this year's predictions.