The New York Times has published a really cool interactive census map up on its site. It has a number of different ways to sort and visualize the data including population change, population density, various demographics, housing, etc. It also gives you an opportunity to view all data by state and zoom in on your own zip code. It’s a very nice and simple tool.
This chart shows music industry revenues from ’73 to ’09 by format. Common belief is that digital piracy is killing the record industry, but it’s clear the CD era greatly inflated sales. What could be going on here:
With the CD, consumers were repurchasing albums they already owned on vinyl or tape. Forced obsolescence isn’t an issue with digital music. It’s relatively easy to burn music from CDs into the new format.
The 90s CD era featured the emergence of “alternative” music genres that widened the music buying audience. This doesn’t just mean grunge though. Mainstream country became a massive market. Garth Brooks became the best selling artist of all time and Shania Twain’s album Come on Over went 20x platinum.
Economic recession. People buy less stuff when the economy is bad. The 90s were good, the late 2000s, not as much.
This chart doesn’t show how the industry has changed. While sales have fallen, the concert industry posted record years before the recession took hold. And there’s also the music licensing and publishing industry that puts popular music in movies and commercials.
Home recording and online distribution is often seen as a response to record industry decline, but it’s a viable option for musicians to promote their work. Musicians can make and record music rather cheaply, distribute it online, promote on social networks, and build a following. The music industry is no longer in complete control of who becomes a star. Aggressive mass marketing is simply not as effective as community building.
For decades Hollywood has been predicting how companies will be advertising to consumers in the future. From Blade Runner to more recent examples such as this scene from Minority Report, the movie industry has envisioned a world of high-tech, interactive and overwhelming promotions crowding our urban areas. In a rare occurrence, it seems as if the entertainment industry may have gotten this prediction correct.
A recent article from ScreenMediaDaily.com showcases a joint interactive advertising effort from Yahoo! and several advertising and technology firms. The campaign consists of large, touchscreen displays mounted at bus stops in the San Francisco and D.C. areas that allow patrons to not only view different ads but also interact with them. So far Yahoo!’s Bus Stop Derby games, which allows users to compete against others over the web, has been a big success. But the fun doesn’t end once your ride shows up, as these games are also available on mobile devices, further engrossing consumers in the experience.
Another innovative advertising campaign comes from Clear Channel Airports, the world’s largest airport advertising firm. The company has partnered with Mirrus, the creators of a “Digital Advertising Mirror.” By installing these mirrors throughout airport restrooms, advertisers are able to “insert” consumers into their ads as they (hopefully) use the sink area before leaving.
These are two early examples of how new technology is engulfing consumers in advertisements on a daily basis. Other recent campaigns have featured eye sensors and new social media applications allow for highly personalized messages. With combinations of some of these technologies as well as new tools such as directional speakers we could very well be on our way to realizing the consumer world that we see in our favorite films.
The media is an extremely powerful player in forming the opinions of the US population. Watching the news, reading the paper, and browsing the internet are some of the main channels we use to educate ourselves on what is happening in the world. The media also provides companies a ready platform to reach consumers as well, as evident by the increasing spending exhibited by firms on advertising through cable networks and high-traffic websites. With the recent takeover of NBC Universal by cable giant Comcast however, we may soon experience an era of unprecedented information control.
Comcast currently provides cable services for about one quarter of the United States’ cable subscribers, reaching nearly 24 million homes. NBC Universal has an even wider spread as it is broadcast in over 113 million homes. The FCC interfered very little with this merger, mainly requiring that NBC programming be available to Comcast’s competitors and other media distribution services. The lack of strict separation between networks and cable providers hints that this merger could be the first step towards a dangerous trend wherein companies not only control who can watch TV but also what they can watch. It’s not even a far cry to speculate that a cable provider could deliver different programs, advertisements, and information to households on an individual basis. Comcast recently announced that former Showtime executive (and renowned programming guru) Bob Greenblatt will be heading NBC’s future programming efforts. A seasoned veteran and innovator, Greenblatt is sure to find ways to capitalize on this merger to bring viewers closer to their favorite networks.
The threat of information control becomes increasingly frightening once you consider the ruling that a Florida court of appeals made on a largely overlooked case involving FOX last decade. The court determined that it is within a broadcaster’s legal rights to publish false or misleading information, even through a national news channel, saying that FCC regulations are considered a “policy” rather than a rule or law. With the new Comcast-NBC conglomerate now owning dozens of TV stations as well as multiple movie studios and websites, one can only speculate as to what kind of power the media will have over the information we receive in the future.