Digital Feudalism

I follow Jeremiah Owyang on Twitter. He’s been observing, writing and talking about the new collaborative or sharing economy for some time now. He says it’s the future and where all business is headed.

You might have heard of Uber (the taxi company that owns no cars) or Airbnb (the lodging company that owns no rooms) etc. and how they are growing by leaps and bounds. The venture capital is flowing into these new business models leveraging this collaborative concept.

So you can imagine my surprise to read this headline: “Jeremiah Owyang just dropped a bomb in Paris.” (Not literally, but figuratively) The “bomb” being the reality that “the driving force behind this disruptive movement isn’t peer relationships with customers,” but “the one percent own the collaborative economy.”

Why was this a stunning announcement? Because the concept of this new value proposition called the Collaborative Economy “is organic, peer-to-peer digital interaction to create opportunities that bypass outmoded processes of brick and mortar businesses.”

Much like I wrote about in my blog post “The Future of Ad Supported Media.

Owyang was revealing the dark side of this new economy. The rich were getting richer and the poor, poorer. While some tried to dress this new sharing economy in the clothes of Ronald Reagan’s “Trickle-Down” economics, the reality is clear; that’s not what’s really happening. The world’s wealth-gap continues to expand and it’s picking up speed.

For media companies, this new economy is seen as sharing of thoughts, ideas, information and creation via the Internet. The result has seen the number of dominant media companies go from somewhere around fifty back in the 1980s to about five around the turn of the century.

The old ways of doing business – printing newspapers & magazines or broadcasting over radio & television – are dying.   The “smart money” is moving into digital marketing and advertising. The party’s over, turn off the lights, it’s time to go home – OR IS IT?

Have you heard about ad blocking?

It turns out this a big deal and growing exponentially. The advertising industry has simply looked the other way as though it didn’t exist, but it does.

While only about 15% or so of the US folks are using an ad blocking extension, other countries around the world are approaching 40%. Gaming sites are reported to be even worse with over 80% of their ads being blocked by gamers. Frederic Filloux goes into a lot more detail in his blog post titled “Ad Blocks’ Doomsday Scenarios.

This could be a real opportunity for radio especially. But it needs to look in the mirror, put its big boy pants on and do what it knows it should have been doing all along.

Barry Drake spells it out better than I ever could in his book “40 Years 40,000 Sales Calls” (which I highly recommend you pick up and read). Barry writes the following prescription for radio’s future:

“…there must be investment, the fuel necessary to attack the four major issues.

In Programming:

  • Fresh content to attract a new generation of listeners, 95 million millennials

  • Promotion and advertising to achieve prominence

In Sales:

  • Severe reduction and limits to inventory  (Not a gimmick, smart business)

  • Contact with the BOSS (calling on decision makers by local sellers)

The very entity that caused so much grief is going to eat its own tail.

This is radio’s next big opportunity to reinvent itself and reassert itself as the powerful medium that it always was.

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Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales

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