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The Narrowness

We are entering the Narowness – a period of massive media fragmentation.

Print, digital, TV, even Radio… will grow Narrower in focus to appeal to niches. Big Niches, but niches just the same. This article in The New Yorker bought it home for me. The Narrowness is this:

“People went from broad to narrow.. and we think they will continue to go that way … spend more and more time in the niches… because now the distribution landscape allows for more narrowness.”

But the Narrowness is also about conflict – about cultures of abundance and cultures of exclusivity. If you were any doubt about the difference between Hollywood and Silicon Valley, just move countries as we did. An Apple TV and broadband is the same in Australia as it is in the US (ok, slower down here but you get the idea). 

One culture seeks to enable the Narrowness and to enable the bits to flow. Another seeks to restrict and contain. The same story hammers this home elegantly:

…The crucial difference is that one culture is founded on abundance and the other on scarcity. He added, “Silicon Valley builds its bridges on abundance. Abundant bits of information floating out there, writing great programs to process it, then giving people a lot of useful tools to use it. Entertainment works by withholding content with the purpose of increasing its value. And, when you think about it, those two are just vastly different approaches, but they can be bridged.

The Narrowness has profound implications for marketers as we will be able to target and plan with precision. Once a Utopic view of planning will become real.

On YouTube, the niches will get nichier, and the audiences smaller still. But those audiences will be even more engaged, and much more quantifiable. Advertisers have to rely on ratings and market research to get even a rough approximation of who’s watching which show. Because YouTube is delivered over the Internet, the company will know exactly who is watching—not their names but their viewing histories, their searches, their purchases, their rough location, and their online social connections. As Shishir Mehrotra, YouTube’s head product manager, explained to me, “Advertising will be done at the level of the audience rather than at the level of the show. Content is no longer proxy for an audience—we know who the audience is. We know what your preferences are, the types of shows you like to watch.” If you posted a video of your trip to Hawaii on YouTube, chances are YouTube is going to advertise airfare to Honolulu to you. Advertising can therefore be highly focussed, not the blunt instrument it is now.

2 Responses

  1. By Robert Barnes on March 18th, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Hi Andy – Please excuse the shameless plug, but I wholeheartedly agree because this is something that we had to believe in order to create SuperGuide.com.au. Superannuation is wide in that it effects everyone, but narrow in that the percentage of people interested at any one time is narrow. This audience can still grow to be a large niche (we’re nearly 100,000 visits per month) but, to your last point, advertisers are finding that nothing compares to reaching people when they are in a particular frame-of-mind.

    • By Haedhar on April 15th, 2012 at 1:54 am

      Hi, I am facing ipssoble foreclosure on an investment property that my husband and I own with my sister and her busband. Our balloon payment was due about two months ago. Of course, the new appraisal was about $70,000 less than the original. Now my brother-in-law is refusing to even sign any loan application documents, etc. The bank states it will have to end in foreclosure if my brother-in-law refuses to sign. I am really scared. What are my options? Thank you.

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