“Influence is the future of media”

July 27th, 2009 / 10:07 by Ross Dawson

After three extremely successful years running the Future of Media Summit, held simultaneously in San Francisco Bay Area and Sydney, it is time to move on. This year the event, run by The Insight Exchange, will be titled Future of Influence Summit. This is because:

INFLUENCE IS THE FUTURE OF MEDIA

We have already begun to discover this through the now-dominant concept of “social media”. In the Future of Media Strategic Framework that was launched for our Future of Media Summit 2006 we described the (symbiotic) relationship between Mainstream Media and Social Media.

Social media is all about human relationships, about how we shape our view of the world based on our peer communication. The extraordinary breadth of information and opinion that we are exposed to today, combined with the ability to converse, means our own opinions are often driven more by peers than traditional sources.

In fact this shift to the social means that media is becoming far more about peer influence than information and reporting.

This year companies globally will spend US$450 billion on advertising. The composition of advertising spend has changed dramatically over the last decade. That pace of change will rapidly accelerate in coming years. Total marketing spend is hardly set to reduce in an increasingly crowded marketplace, but it will be allocated to those activities that truly make a difference. Influence – based on conversations and aggregated opinion – will be at the center of how companies seek to drive sales and customer engagement.

Today, people find content such as movies, music, news, books and so on primarily through aggregated channels. Instead of buying the New York Times and reading it cover to cover, people are pointed to the most relevant articles in the New York Times and elsewhere, based on what people find interesting. It is hardly new that people buy music or books because of recommendations – but now adding to their friends’ opinions and magazine reviews are a universe of influencers who provide guidance on what to buy. Influence is driving the world of content and publishing as never before, and this is just the beginning.

These are just some of the themes that will be explored in detail at Future of Influence Summit. We will continue to work with our clients on the broader themes of the future of media, however it is critical to understand that influence is the future of media.