April 27, 2009
MIT 6: Marketing for New Media

Throughout the week we'll continue posting our recaps of the wonderfully intense Media in Transition 6 Conference that just took place here at MIT. On Saturday I had the pleasure of moderating the "New Media Business Models" panel. with participation. Goran Bolin, professor in the Department of Media & Communication Studies at Södertörn University in Stockholm and Leif Dahlberg, who teaches media and literature in the School of Computer Science and Communication at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, were our panelists.

The panel started with the clarification that neither work was really about business models per se, but about new marketing strategies. Having said that, Goran Bolin did start his talk summarizing the media business models. Namely selling texts to audiences, when the media is the commodity, and also, selling audiences to advertisers, where the media is merely the channel to reach those potential consumers.
Bolin referred to John Ellis' conception of the audience as a rather abstract statistical aggregate that had been conceptualized in board rooms rather than in relation to actual diverse and contradiction-laden consumers.
Bolin also commented on the difficulties on targeting audiences through the traditional models given that they were focusing on individual and not behaviors. He described how with the advent of web 2.0 there have been advances in behavioral targeting and contextual targeting, yet for these to succeed they need to be built on unobtrusive strategies. This is no easy task, and it requires inventiveness, but as one executive commented to Bolin, "it's not creative until it sells".

Dahlberg's presentation focused on the transformation of space with the installation of advertising screens. He began his presentation describing the uses of digital signage in Beijing and Shanghai and ended in Stockholm, looking at public and semi-public places being transformed by digital screen media.

In all three cities he was struck by how ineffective this forms of advertising are. He noted how "the experiences from these media places can be instructive, although not necessarily generalizable or applicable to other places and other audiences."
In order to attract the attention of urban citizens, Dahlberg notices that "the video messages need to be relatively short, visually interesting, preferably with some local connection, and possibly use interactive media that project live images of the audience on the screen(s)"
Dahlberg plans to continue his research analyzing the further implications of this medium.