Friday, August 31, 2012

The Phenomenon of Digital Media Convergence: impacts on advertising and new media - 42876346

The Phenomenon of Digital Media Convergence: 

Impacts on advertising and new media

In an era, where the person who expresses something as 'technologically impossible', is often interrupted by the person achieving it, there is no doubt that technological advancements are rapidly reshaping how societies interact. The phenomenon of digital media convergence is one such development that has significantly altered media communication practices, changing how information is produced, distributed and received by consumers. Such change demands revised approaches to advertising and new media. This essay will firstly explore what is meant by the term digital convergence; addressing both its opportunities and limitations. Following this will be a discussion of the subsequent new nature of consumers, and how this has strongly affected advertising, largely through Web 2.0 features. Lastly, an exploration of the award winning Tiger Beer campaign in Malaysia, will demonstrate the shift and potential of advertising and online social networking, as a product of convergent media.

Digital Media Convergence

The phenomenon of digital media convergence emerged as digital media began to dominate the media landscape, rather than traditional analogue forms. Where analogue media was bound to a material form, specialized industries, local distribution and one-direction communication, digital media provided numerous opportunities in that it was not bound by materiality, it had an ability for widespread and global distribution regardless of content, and the consumer achieved the tools for production and distribution. The convergence that followed was "...the process whereby new technologies [were] accommodated by existing media and communication industries and cultures." (Dwyer, 2010: 2). It saw the flow of content spread across multiple media platforms (Jenkins, 2006), allowing the ability to obtain multiple services on a single device, or any given service on multiple devices (Ofcom, cited by Dwyer, 2010: 4). For example, newspapers like The Guardian, can now be accessed online, through applications available for tablet and phone devices, as well as in its traditional form. 

This digitalization and media convergence, altered the relationships between existing technologies, industries, and markets (Jenkins, 2006), achieving a new level of consumer convenience, and increased channels for distribution. However, there exist concerns regarding the almost uncontrollable flow of information, largely over the Internet. Illegal downloading and the increased participatory nature of media consumption, raise questions of ownership (Meikle, G  & Young, S, 2012: 59, 67); with restrictions and regulations, and how these should be implemented, serving as a catalyst for debate.

Nature of Consumers and Impact on Advertising and New Media

Digital media convergence has caused a shift in the nature of consumers, demanding a revised approach from media producers and distributors. The ability that people have to receive information and organize their personal, leisure and work activities on the move (Dwyer, 2010: 6), has fragmented audiences, making them less confined by geography and broadcast media schedules. The advertising industry had been forced to respond by altering their practices; incorporating strategies for new media platforms to compensate for the autonomous nature of consumers. This has occurred with innovations such as HooHaa, an Australian web-based company that acts as an advertising portal. HooHaa operates on a permission based system, offering highly targeted SMS messages from marketers to phone users (Wilken, R & Sinclair, J, 2009: 8). 

The Internet is the domineering force of convergent media and advertising, reported to have been worth $US20-40 billion in 2007 (Scheider and Whoriskey, cited by Dwyer, 2010: 20). One key area in which advertising has adapted to such new media forms is that of online social networking. Web 2.0 features have seen a significant change in marketing procedures, Meikle and Young (2012: 66) asserting that it exists as a new kind of " model for convergent media firms, in which users do the unpaid work of building and promoting the business, creating its content, and generating advertising material,". With over 845 million active Facebook accounts (Search Engine Journal, 2012), where over 250 photos are uploaded daily and there are 2.7 billion likes everyday, Facebook serves as an example of online social media that allows " to reach out across time and space at a speed, scale and level of complexity that were not previously possible," (Miller, cited by Meikle, G & Young, S, 2012: 163).

Stand Out with Tiger Beer

Tiger Beer recognized the ability that online social media possessed to penetrate their target market of 21-30 year olds; establishing their award winning 'Stand Out with Tiger Beer' campaign in Malaysia. Tiger Beer initiated a three phase positioning strategy to distinguish it from its competitors, combining traditional and online social media forms (Elliot, G, Rundle-Thiele, S & Waller, D, 2012). This involved developing limited edition bottles, establishing a community platform on Facebook, and partnering with Nuffnang, Malaysia's largest online blog advertising company. The Facebook page functioned as a way for 'fans' to engage and interact with each other and receive notifications concerning Tiger Beer promotional events. A 'Mystery Photographer' program encouraged members to post photos of themselves enjoying the limited edition bottles in their respective social situations. A blog-based contest was also initiated where participants had to tell us on their blog why they stood our with Tiger Beer. Online promotional activity was also supported by traditional marketing mediums including top English and Chinese speaking newspapers, lifestyle magazines and web-banner advertisement. 

These climaxed towards a Tiger Beer party where blogger attendees had to dress to 'stand out'. As a result, the party received substantial online social media coverage; photos, videos and comments published on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and blog sites. The campaign generated public relations worth approximately US$150 000 and the Facebook page recruited over 18 000 'fans' in two months. Brand loyalty increased by 6.25% and consumption increased by 6%, earning Tiger Beer an Effie in 2009 (Elliot, G, Rundle-Thiele, S & Waller, D, 2012).

'Stand Out with Tiger Beer' demonstrates how digital convergence has encouraged revised advertising strategies for new media. It illustrates a new way of penetrating a target market that is effectively cheaper and has the potential for widespread, viral distribution. However, the participatory nature of online social networking and other such Internet interactions, can be surrounded by democratic notions of free access to everything, for all. Consequently, blurred distinctions between public and personal information arise, and ethical issues such as data mining on social networking sites have emerged (Meikle, G  & Young, S, 2012: 59, 67).

In exploring the nature of digital media convergence, the autonomy gained by consumers, and the impact these have on advertising and new media, it is evident that there has been a major shift in the global media landscape. Information now flows on a two-way highway travelled by producers and consumers alike. Services are more easily accessed and content more far-reaching. These dynamic changes have opened multiple possibilities for the generation of advertising in new media, but have also surfaced legal and ethical issues regarding ownership, and distinctions between the public and the personal. The changes initiated by convergent media can thus at times be considered both beneficial and detrimental to previous establishments within society, but the phenomenon of digital media convergence has, and continues to transform how society interacts. 

Reference List:

Dwyer, T. (2010). Media Convergence. McGraw Hill, Berkshire. pp. 1-23. 

Elliot, G, Rundle-Thiele, S & Waller, D. (2012) [2010 1st ed.]. Ch 12 "Electronic Marketing" in Marketing, 2nd Edition. John Wiley & Sons Australia, Milton Queensland. pp. 421-455.

Jenkins, H. (2006). Ch 1 "Introduction: "Worship at the Alter of Convergence"" Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. NY University Press.

Meikle, G & Young, S. (2012). Ch 3 "From Broadcast to Social Media" in Media Convergence: Networked Digital Media in Everyday Life. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. pp. 59-78.

Sinclair, J & Wilken, R. (2009). "Waiting for the kiss of life : mobile media and advertising" in Convergence: the journal of research into new media. vol 15, no 5, pp. 427 - 445. Accessed 28 August 2012. <>.

Fach, M. (2012). Stats on Facebook 2012[infographic]. Search Engine Journal. Accessed 29 August 2012. <>.

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