• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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The democratisation of attention

The democratisation of attention

Before now, the high cost of sharing information and its complexity gave power to a few people in the world. Today, these limits no longer exist due to the improvement in technology and the rise of new media.

Furthermore, innovation in technology drives and affects consumer behaviour regarding how content is consumed. From the days of television and radio to film and cinemas to the present, where video on demand is being popularised, media and technology have always influenced how content is consumed. One of the ways it has done this is by multiplying the amount of media that can be shared and consumed per time.

It has also democratised the power of media and content creation. Anyone in any part of the world can pick a preferred niche and share valuable content through a media outlet of their choice. And through consistency, they can build trust and create a brand of their own. This means that the authority that institutional media once held is slowly being democratised.

This proves that some media factors have been affected by innovation in technology. Attention is one of them. Attention can be commanded by anyone from anywhere in the world now more than ever through valuable content.

Social media allows people to interact freely with others and offers multiple ways for brands to reach their audience. Because of this, personal brands can now target a group of people and share content to which they can relate, therefore influencing their lifestyle and beliefs.

Authority has also been greatly affected. Authority has to be earned over a period of time, but unlike before, people have more chances of being recognised as authorities.

This is evident in people like Fabrizio Romano, an Italian journalist who is now seen as an authority and a trusted source for football transfer news.

The most significant football transfers are no longer announced first by TV stations or newspapers but by Fabrizio Romano. Isn’t that insane? He has built a trustworthy brand by combining the credibility and reliability that traditional media offers with the speed and agility of social media.

Advertising revenue is another factor that has been affected. When you come down to Africa, Nigeria in particular, influencers are paid thousands to millions of Naira to create a single post and share it on their social media pages, hoping to influence their audience to purchase, trust or be aware of a product or service.

These millions could have been used to gain a few spots on billboards and television, but more brands are choosing to work with creatives instead.

This is to say, a social media post has gained more value than a typical traditional media platform. Comedians and YouTubers now charge millions of Naira to shoot videos for brands.

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This type of content was once posted for fun and leisure purposes. But over time, it has gained value in Nigeria because it has commanded attention and is now occupying a row in every marketing manager’s communications budget.

The agility of Information has also been affected. People now go to social media platforms in search of news instead of depending on authority pieces and institutions.

This change in media consumption patterns has given rise to fake news because everyone now has the ability to create content about anything from anywhere in the world. It begs the question, “are people consuming the right content?,” “is media now being used to propel agenda and feed propaganda?”

Everyday entertainment also has an effect on consumers’ buying behaviours, influencing them to pick one product over the other. We have films such as Queen’s Gambit, directly and indirectly leading to an increase in the sales of chess worldwide.

The new media have more power now, and this power is being shared between key influencers who have built a community that trusts their content and are willing to engage with it.

There are pros and cons to this though. An advantage is that new media is less expensive to jump into and gives everyone a fairground to start from. The cons though can be seen in the cancel culture; how organizations and brands have lost their value because of one tweet or social media post.

Presently, people are connecting more to the humanization of media and are seeking relatable content; this will continue giving power to the people. But how would this affect traditional media in Africa and across the world? What does the future of traditional media hold? Are we coming to a time where key influencers would surpass the brands? Will institutional platforms maintain relevance in the coming years?

Affi is co-founder/creative director Takeout Media