Written by John Andrews
I’ve been thinking about Daniel Morgan recently. Mr. Morgan was a warrior charged with defeating the most powerful, organized and efficient military force of his time: the British Army. Having served in the aforementioned organization, he knew he didn’t have a chance and needed to approach the problem from a different angle. Fortunately for all of us, he found a solution by combining technology with innovation. Perhaps his greatest strength however, is that he realized that technology alone was just a tool that would accomplish little without a strategy to account for the paradigm of the current power structure.
Outmatched by the British war machine, Washington began to employ insurgency tactics and Morgan was a perfect man for the job. Having assembled a rifle company and using the relatively new tech lightweight rifles with grooved barrels, he was able to employ a simple strategy to disrupt the British command and control model. His snipers would target the Indian guides the British employed for navigation in the American frontier. This slowed the British movements and then Morgan’s men could easily remove the officers effectively leaving the directionless soldiers helpless. Without guidance, the overwhelming superiority of the British Army was useless. You know the rest of the story, raise a tankard and thank Morgan.
Thanks for sticking through the two paragraph history lesson. This is today’s media landscape: a big, well-equipped force that is being attacked on all fronts with all manner of emerging technology. The only thing preventing a complete collapse of the industry as a whole is the lack of a thoughtful and organized strategy by the various rebels. Traditional media, represented by the armies of print, broadcast and even “old-school” digital (the display ad) are faced with their Trenton moment (Google it). Those armies are still marching on the reliance of massive scale but are buckling under their own supply lines. Furthermore, the incentives to change are often hard for industries to realize as core “cash cows” still generate gobs of revenue and margin.
In the prevailing model, media is still largely controlled by the access providers. As content providers (the part that matters) gain access directly to consumers, this model will, and is, collapsing. There is of course resistance to change on the incumbent side but consumers are moving on. They are consuming social content at a rate not seen in the history of the media world. This is mainly due to the fact that since Gutenberg, they haven’t actually been able to choose or control their media world. Simply put, media connection is now available to almost every human on the planet thanks to a host of connected devices from smartphones to TV’s. The best part is the content is provided by other humans connected to the same nodes.
The skirmishes that are happening today will become full battlefields in the very near future as the economics of the existing models, much like the British command units, collapase under the tactical reality of the shift in consumer behavior.
User generated content marketing is on the march and will not be denied.