Listen to the calm, not the heavy breathing

There were so many movers and shakers in the room at Oliver and Ohlbaum’s ‘Through the looking glass’ event yesterday that it was practically a blur. I felt dizzy.

However, any potential nausea from standing on this giant media power plate was swiftly quelled by the steadying influence of the consultants unveiling their latest research.

Amidst all the hype and heavy breathing around social media in much reporting it was very refreshing to see respected analysts present a more measured, thought-through approach – along with a hugely positive forecast for the future of TV. I won’t drone on about social now, we seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time talking and blogging about social just because other people are. It is great, but as an industry we’re in danger of losing perspective, blinded by the light of the shiny and new like the magpies we are.

They had me at hello anyway by doing a very clever survey of all the attendees to uncover our media habits and opinions. They then presented the results in full and revealed how incredibly atypical people who work in media are compared to normal people. It served as a brilliant demonstration of why you shouldn’t take your own behaviour and assume everyone is like that.

They pointed out the ‘slow pace of fast change’; how, when a ‘disruptor’ arrives on the scene, there is a lag effect before an ‘inversion’ of a market occurs. So it was seven years before Google’s disruption forced classified press advertising and direct mail to invert into negative growth.

Peering through their looking glass they highlighted those media they thought were inverted or in the process of inverting (DVDs, DM and recorded music), those that might (outdoor, consumer mags, commercial radio), and those that looked as though they were prospering (TV, cinema, and ‘internet advertising’ – a catch-all we loathe here at Thinkbox but will let go this once). They qualified this by pointing out the economic climate makes things a bit harder to see.

They identified three key factors which determined whether an industry could withstand the entry of a major disruptor: the pace of change in that industry, the rate of sector growth, and the magnitude of any power shift. On these criteria, DVDs and books looked under most threat; O&O weren’t quite sure about radio and newspapers, but TV looked pretty well placed.

There was lots more useful stuff about TV, such as how new forms of TV have proved to be additive, how the top ten advertisers spend a very small proportion of their money online and this isn’t changing much (but they have increased the amount they invest in TV), how globalising of TV formats is creating more efficiency, and how TV advertising, when you add up all its platforms and formats, will remain the lead advertising medium.

They covered far too much ground for a blog hoping to be read (you can get the presentations for free here), but @OliverOhlbaum speak sense. We should listen to them.

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