Assignment 1: Online Essay
David Scro 42848350
Discuss the phenomenon of digital media convergence in relation to Advertising and New Media.
In terms of advertising and new media the phenomenon of digital media convergence and the vast array of changes associated with it can be clearly seen. These changes include interactivity in a ‘participatory culture’ (Jenkins 2006 p. 3), the mixing of various industries, fragmentation of audiences and the phenomenon of technological convergence. This can be seen in the attempts of advertisers to engage with a new audience shaped by convergent media. These ideas of convergence can be clearly seen through the advertising company 72andSunny (http://www.72andsunny.com/) and how it approaches online advertising and new media.
A significant aspect of convergence is the creation of fragmented audiences. This is due to the fact that audiences have the ability to migrate across media flows in search of the entertainment and content they wish to view (Jenkins 2006). Therefore it is difficult to engage users of new media as they determine what they want to view (Hanekom & Scriven 2002). For advertisers this means that advertising has to be sought out by the consumer and become a part of their media flows (Spurgeon 2008). 72andSunny attempts this in their UNHATE advertisements for Benetton. The controversial image in one of the advertisements, of the Pope kissing Mohammed Ahmed al-Tayeb, certainly acts as a controversial means to gain audience attention, as stated by partner Matt Jorvis, it was about creating 'cultural conversation' (Iezzi 2012). These advertisements also reveal another significant aspect of convergence, the mixing of old media and new media (Jenkins 2006). The controversial advertisements of world leaders kissing were posted around cities as a traditional form of advertising as posters and billboards. However, these images were present to hopefully lead people to seek out the films online and share them in their media flows. Although this may have not worked as well as hoped, it is an excellent example of some of the key aspects of convergence and how they are related to new media’s on-demand access and how this is addressed and used by advertisers.
Convergence, for many, also signifies a change in the role of the consumer as the ability to interact increases. The ‘participatory culture’ which arises out of convergence culture and as a part of new media is therefore catered to by advertisers (Jenkins 2006 p. 3). This relates to Morrison & Sheehan's (2009) ideas which state that ‘dialogues’ need to be created with consumers to establish credibility. As a part of the fragmentation of audiences it is believed that the consumer must be engaged with and invited inside a ‘brand community’ (Jenkins 2006 p. 20). This interaction between consumer and producer, which is also a key aspect of new media, is best highlighted in 72andSunny’s ‘Men Vs Women’ Nike+ campaign. The campaign, through the website (http://nikeplus.nike.com/plus/), allows one to ‘Join the Nike+ Community’, where members can create a training profile, set goals and compare results with others (Spurgeon 2008). This online community clearly reflects the ideas of Jenkins (2006 p. 3) on ‘participatory culture’ as a part of digital media convergence. Therefore it can be seen that convergence, in terms of advertising and media industries, can be both a top-down corporate driven process and also driven by consumers, as stated by Spurgeon (2008), the Nike+ users make up the majority of the content on the site. Therefore the consumer and produce become far more closely linked as a product of convergence.
Convergence also constitutes the mixing of various industries to cater to fragmented audiences. To engage with consumers in refreshing ways is generally the aim of such ventures (Spurgeon 2008). This is once again to cater to audiences who can determine for themselves what they view in new media and therefore, in the case of advertising, the consumer must be allowed to access the brand on their own terms (Morrison & Sheehan 2009). According to Spurgeon this has led to an ‘intensification’ of branded content through the combination of certain industries (Spurgeon 2008 p. 39). 72andSunny’s K-Swiss Tubes online advertisements are an example of this, the advertisements use Danny McBride’s character Kenny Powers from the TV show Eastbound & Down as a central figure (beware video contains strong language). The advertisements also feature members of the film industry such as
thus revealing the links between
this advertising company and the industries they are incorporating. The
explicit and unruly comedy of the TV show and character are also incorporated
into the series of advertisements produced for K-Swiss. Therefore, 72andSunny’s
approach bears some resemblance to what Jenkins calls ‘trans-media storytelling’,
bringing content across multiple platforms, and in this case, into the field of
advertising (Jenkins 2006 p. 21). Through this, it can be seen that convergence
involves the blurring of many distinctions, between entertainment and
advertisement and even between various industries. Michael Bay
Technological convergence is also a significant aspect of digital media convergence. The coming together of multiple technologies is often mistaken for the primary focus of convergence. Jenkins (2006 p. 13) highlights this in his ideas regarding the ‘black box fallacy’, where all media is accessed through one device. However, technological convergence is a significant part of convergence. Smart phones are an excellent example of this, as camera, video, internet and phone capabilities can all be accessed from the one device. Mobile phones have therefore become extremely significant in the ways media can be accessed, created and dispersed. These devices also play a significant part as new media, where content can be accessed on-demand, interacted with and created by the user. For advertisers, mobile phones should be a great opportunity, but it has become a problematic issue (Sinclair & Wilken 2009). This is due to the fact that advertisers are afraid of ‘alienating’ consumers through pervasive advertising on phones (Sinclair & Wilken 2009 p. 87). Advertisers are attempting to prompt consumers to request content into their media flows through the methods previously stated (Sinclair & Wilken 2009). This can be seen through 72andSunny’s iPhone app for American fast food brand Hardee’s. Interactivity, as a central aspect of convergence and new media, sees consumers inviting advertisers into their own media usage (Sinclair & Wilken 2009). This reveals the significance of technological convergence as seen through advertising and new media such as smart phones.
The many aspects of digital media convergence can be clearly seen through approaches to advertising and the shift to new media. These changes reflect the key aspects of convergence including, fragmented audiences, ‘participatory culture’ (Jenkins 2006 p. 3), the mixing of industries and technological convergence. This can all be seen through the example of 72andSunny and how they approach convergence and new media in regards to advertising. The on-demand access and interactivity of new media also reveals the key aspects of convergence, as through this audiences are fragmented and industries seek to cater to the needs of new media users. The change in approaches can be seen through interactive advertisements, branded content and many other means through which the key aspects of convergence can be seen.
Hanekom, J & Scriven, C (2002) ‘Traditional and Online Advertising: An Explanation of Current and Future Trends’, Communicatio: South African Journal for Communication Theory and Research, vol. 28, no. 1, pp. 49-59.
Iezzi, T (2012) ‘For Winning at the Intersection of
Hollywood and Madison Avenue’, Fast Company, <http://www.fastcompany.com/most-innovative-companies/2012/72andsunny>.
Jenkins, H (2006) Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide,
University Press, New York.
Morrison, D.K & Sheehan, K.B (2009) ‘Beyond Convergence: Confluence Culture and the Role of the Advertising Agency in a Changing World’, First Monday, vol. 14, no. 3, < http://firstmonday.org/htbin/cgiwrap/bin/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/2239/2121>.
Sinclair, J & Wilken, R (2009) ‘Contests of Power and Place in
Mobile Media Advertising’, Australian Journal of Communication,
vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 85-96.
Spurgeon, C (2008) Advertising & New Media, Routledge, Oxon.