Media survey shows we’re living in a Facebook world

A survey by ZenithOptimedia, explained in this article in Quartz provides an impressive amount of data about the world we live in. Much of it will come as no surprise, but it is still worth taking a look at, for example: we now spend on average eight hours a day consuming information and other media through the television, radio, internet, newspapers, movies, etc.

Not that all these media are by any means equal: television is still the most popular, taking up more than three hours of our time, viewing has fallen by 8 percent over the last five years. Over that period, internet use has risen: it now consumes three hours of our day, some two hours, a 105 percent increase during those five years. But magazine reading has fallen by 23 percent, and newspaper purchases by 31 percent. It is clear that the screen has taken over.

The smartphone is playing a key role in all this. We are now constantly consuming information, movies, serials, and other content, wherever we are: at home, work, public transport, waiting for somebody, or in the bar or café. A device that was originally created to make phone calls, and which during its first phase of life was becoming smaller and smaller, has now mutated into something we use for looking at content, growing in size in the process.

The conclusions couldn’t be clearer: none of the trends the survey identifies are even close to saturation point. By 2017, we will spend even more time consuming content on our smartphones, computers, and tablets. This is where the world is heading, so get used to the idea.

In this context, Facebook’s recent Instant Articles initiative provides a brutal illustration of reality: if you are in the media business, you will have realized already that this what Don Corleone used to call “an offer you can’t refuse.” The idea of accessing a potential readership of more than 1.2 billion via a smartphone app, with all kinds of trendy formats and eye candy and that downloads at light speed and that doesn’t require you to make any changes to your mainstream publication, that allows you to hold on to your advertisers at no cost, and that if you want will provide you with advertisers at a standard industry rate of 30 percent means that in very little time, just about every media outlet will be there. From traditional mastheads down to the smallest blog, because Facebook wants to attract a handful of key publications, this is a platform open to everybody.

If Instant Articles works out, Facebook, which is already the most important media company in the world without having produced a single piece of content, will be hosting a significant percentage of what the world is reading, with all that entails. It has already achieved this in video: Facebook now hosts more viral videos than any other platform, followed by Twitter’s Vine and its six-second masterpieces. YouTube, which until very recently was most people’s idea of what online videos meant, is now running a distant third. Where is all this headed? Quite simply to the point where more and more advertisers prefer Facebook’s platform to Google when it comes to getting their videos out there. It now has a 75 percent share of social network advertising, up 41 percent on last year.

As a strategic move, I would put this among the biggest and boldest I have seen in a very, very, long time.


(En español, aquí)

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