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Guest Post: Fear, Hope and the Future of Emerging Media

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said that “change is the only constant”. These words are an apt description of the ever-changing landscape of emerging media. In general, I believe change is a good thing. But as I enter the final week of my Emerging Media course at WVU, I’m both overwhelmed and optimistic about the future of media consumption. The number of available apps, social media channels and burgeoning trends make it difficult to keep up, let alone choose which channels are the most appropriate for a brand. And these channels will continue to grow exponentially. But my sense of trepidation is coupled with an enthusiasm for what comes next. So in that spirit of enthusiasm, I want to take a look forward this week to what I think will be some of the more significant shifts in how media will be consumed in the coming years. One thing’s for certain – change will be the only constant. If he were alive today, @Heraclitus’ words would deserve more retweets than Ellen’s Oscar selfie.

I recently re-watched Erik Qualman’s Socialnomics video. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. The statistics are a barometer of where digital media is now, and an insightful predictor of where it’s headed.

















As the video points out, over 50% of the world’s population is under 30. Much of the future of digital media will be shaped by this segment of the population. Millennials are digital natives, vanguards of new media and superstars of personal branding. Their collective voice is louder and more impactful than any previous generation, and their influence is rivaled only by their cumulative spending power. Recent research suggests that much of millennials’ social media use is actually driven by thefear of missing out. But overall, they are a generation that is defined by a hope for the future. A Pew Research study indicates that 49% of Millennials believe the country’s best years are ahead. Their relative optimism is matched only by the enthusiasm of today’s marketers. Digital ad spending is about to explode in response to several trends among millennials, and much of that spending will begin with mobile.


Mobile is the future of media consumption. 92.3% of Millennials used a mobile phone in 2012, and 63% used the mobile web. In 2013, 50% of mobile web users used smartphones as either their primary or exclusive means of going online. As a result, mobile ad budgets in the U.S. are expected to increase from $2.3 billion in 2012 to almost $11 billion in 2016. By 2018, mobile in the U.S. will account for 67.8% of digital ad spending. As the millennials go, so go the advertisers. Mobile is also changing the way consumers connect with brands, and when used as a second screen, mobile is augmenting the way we consume traditional media. Marketers are capitalizing on these mobile trends by improving search engine marketing techniques to include localized keywords and click-to-call features. In a recent post I discussed the increasing profitability of in-app advertising. Mobile apps will continue to grow in popularity, and may even reshape social networking.

Social Media

Millennials have the highest social networking penetration of any generation, and the highest Facebook and Twitter use rates. Millennials spend five hours per day with user-generated content, including social networks. They find peer generated content to be 35% more memorable than other media and 50% more trustworthy. As a result, this content has 20% more influence on purchase decisions than other types of media. In response, social media spending among marketers is expected to grow by more than 10 percent during the next five years. Some believe niche apps will be the future of social media. According to Jessie Gould of B2C, “There is no longer a one-size-fits-all in the social app world. Instead, the specialized tools are getting the attention… Big social media is going to continue to break down into manageable, immediately applicable chunks as users seek more specialized communities.”

Wearable Tech

Wearble tech is a growing business that presents some exciting possibilities for the way we communicate. More changes are on the way, including strides that will be made in the area of augmented reality. This technology is already on display with Google Glass, among others. According to industry experts, the wearable technology market is set to expand rapidly in the next several years with worldwide spending expected to hit $1.4 billion this year and $19 billion by 2018.

This year, digital ad spending will surpass 25% of all media ad spending for the first time ever. This is an indicator of digital advertising’s future growth. Luckily, advertisers have figured out that engagement is king, and that user-generated content is a major gateway to the throne. I’m excited to see how mobile, social media and wearable technology will increase consumer engagement, and how they will continue to shape the relationship between consumers and brands. Overall, I share the optimism of millennials. As we move away from the fear surrounding new technology and toward the hope for what it will mean to the future of communication, the possibilities for emerging media are limitless.

What do you think? What possible trends or changes in emerging media are you the most excited about?