Mass Media Fragmentation, again and again!
By the 1930’s most radio stations in North America were airing commercial advertising and by the 1940’s became self-sufficient by running off their marketing revenue. As the equipment needed for national reach required a costly and substantial infrastructure, there were limited stations available that resulted in a high concentration of listeners.
Before the transistor became commercially available in radios in 1954, radios were bulky and heavy so families would typically have one per household in their living room. Understandably with whole families sitting together in living rooms listening, this was the most exposure you would get as an advertiser, so newspaper and radio was a guarantee of hitting your target audience with limited market research.
By the mid 60’s portable and personal radios were highly accessible increasing the consumer base, listening time and ultimately marketing revenue. More radio stations were popping up as the technology became cheaper and made it possible for even a small-town enthusiast to have a local radio station. This saw fragmentation of the listeners but allowed advertisers to now target consumers at a town level making market research an important element of mass media advertising.
By the late 60’s with the introduction of TV, radio audiences went full circle, where the technology brought news and entertainment in a most cases, a box, back into the living room. This brought families together once again in one place watching limited, but then revolutionary media. TV broadcasting was even more expensive to produce, but advertisers quickly lined up to promote there offerings even more effectively with moving pictures.
Buy the 70’s live recording equipment became more portable allowing news crews to record events at the scene brining breaking news and events to the living room. Live Sports, Cultural and historical events were seen by most people at bars or at home. Computer animation and special effects began to wow viewers on TV.
During the 80’s cable TV became more affordable with portable TV units entering the market. Local TV and news stations started popping up once again viewership started becoming more targeted but fragmented as seen in the mid 60’s with Radio.
In the early 90’s software companies like Microsoft and Apple released internet browsers allowing HTML content to be viewed by anyone who knew and address. People wanted more and the need for website search became a necessity. In the early 2000’s search engines were the most accessed website on the internet with MSN and google leading the pack.
Once again, a box was introduced into the living room, this time “cream” in colour, however sessions were not shared as a family group. Content was searched in implicit and sometimes explicit detail. We were able to read what we wanted. Download plans to make a bomb and videos of cats doing funny things, but mostly porn.
In the 2010’s internet became mobile and media could be digested on a train in the break room in a bedroom, but mostly in a toilet stall. #facepalm. Families are fragmented as is media with dwindling TV viewership and people only consuming media of their interest and paying less attention to their physical environment. Posting pictures of oneself and ones food. (AGAIN) for more attention to an otherwise dull life.
Today Podcasts are replacing radio and radio needs to become podcasts. Streaming video is free and TV needs to be streaming. The internet is evolving into a true second life we use to escape our physical reality, is it good? No entirely, but not entirely bad either, we need media education in schools which honestly is becoming as important as more physical education.
Thanks for getting to the end of this looooong post!