We’re Now in a World of Niche Content

November 26, 2008

The most important and lasting change from today’s media is the new form and purpose of content found in these innovative technologies.  It is clear that the world’s rising media no longer functions on the traditional mass communication model, where the goal was to reach the largest audience possible with generalized content.  Instead, today’s media centers on niche content that targets a specific audience.  With the internet as their primary medium, consumers are now seeking media that is catered to their individual desires. 

 

Consider some of the noteworthy components of new media: social networking, collective intelligence, and convergence.  These factors have all contributed to the rise of niche media.  Social networking, through the likes of Facebook, is providing the opportunity to connect and communicate with a centralized group of individuals with a common interest or association.  Collective intelligence is the process of cooperatively gaining information and content for a unique common purpose.  It is what Cloverfield Clues and any niche community or fan-run website thrives on.  And finally, convergence is the niche content coming together in an all-encompassing package.  It is producers’ ability to provide substantial content to consumers anxious to buy it.  One needn’t look further than the massive marketing campaigns for blockbusters like Harry Potter or Star Wars to see fans’ desire for content and producers’ willingness to comply.  These shifts show that the most successful new media, under the interactive medium of the internet and Web 2.0 now center on specific, individual tastes. (Jenkins, 12-16)

 

The biggest indication of this shift to niche is seen in how companies now market their products.  Firms that once relied on television and newspapers to advertise their content are now investing in the opportunities of the internet.  Film studios that once spent millions of dollars on television spots are now creating centralized online marketing campaigns aimed at the heart of their fan base.  Record companies and music artists are releasing music and videos free on websites in order to build buzz for full length albums.  Over time, more producers will adapt and gradually move to this style of advertising.  The consequences of this shift to niche are substantial, because it solidifies narrowcasting as the way of the future. 

 

With this new concentration on niche content, some intriguing questions can be posed.  What is the role and importance of traditional mass media in our society?  Will individual prosumers, who are increasingly acquiring content through specific niche outlets, continue to view generalized mass media?  And what are the consequences of this apparent shift in media?  Are there positive and negative effects in a society where its members no longer rely on common media to acquire content?      

 

In the end, as technology continues to grow and offer revolutionary ways to view and create content, the media produced will change with it.  The rapid rise of new media and its emergence as the preeminent form of communication in today’s culture have conveyed that society is quick to adapt and anxious to be on the cutting edge.  It will be interesting to see just how long these current mediums will remain the norm before new media once again redefines itself.

 

This has been posted before, but nobody conveys the concept of niche content and new media better than Chris Anderson of Wired.  His blog and book The Long Tail are must reads for anyone interested:

http://www.thelongtail.com/

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3 Responses to “We’re Now in a World of Niche Content”

  1. […] We’re Now in a World of Niche Content Are there positive and negative effects in a society where its members no longer rely on common media to acquire content? In the end, as technology continues to grow and offer revolutionary ways to view and create content, … […]

  2. yoss86 said

    I think that the niche content on the Internet will have a divisive effect on our society which was previously united by a common, mass-media culture. Take music, for example, our previous “read-only” culture featured several record labels hegemonically controlling which songs are shared by which artists. This endures as, for example, memorabilia from juggernauts of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s continues to fetch high prices at auctions. Before the information revolution, millions of listeners had only a few listening options.

    Now, the niche phenomenon has provided extensive opportunities for artists to emerge from outside the mainstream media and record label environments. Offering a dizzying amount of material to users, the niche content phenomenon stands to divide people from a common culture.

  3. phonytruth said

    Nichecasting is the future I think. Most of the people in our generation are sick to death of commercials that have nothing to do with their interest. Thus, Nichecasting offers a way to reach a demographic with a specific interest, like you mentioned, but also to target ads based on those interests. I know, no one likes ads but I’d rather have “free” content than pay for it. I know with http://www.revision3.com they have advertisers that are specific to the interest of the audience. That makes it more painless and actually some people like the commercials that are relevant. Okay then…peace out.

    I thought it was interesting

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