Exponential Media

Posted on May 23, 2008 by Tony Uphoff

What are the next numbers in the sequence 2,4,?,?. There are two answers here that are correct; 6, 8, as well as 8, 16. This is a test of thinking skills not math skills. If the path of this sequence is linear and progressed 100 steps the final entry would be 200. If the path progressed exponentially the final entry would be 1,267,650,600,228,229,400,000,000,000,000. We are now in the midst of the exponential media era. Exponential media brought on by digital media-fueled by the web-has created more change in the last 10 years than was brought on in the previous 50.

The linear media era, post-televison, was incredibly consistent with relatively easy and predictable changes that innovations created in media habits and media markets. Yes there were format changes in fixed media in audio and video and there were new choices in niche programming developed in television with the advent of cable but even these were easy to predict the outcome of. Change in this era is truly exponential.

Think of the impact of 2 recent digital technology discontinuities; DVR’s and Social Media. Nearly a decade after the introduction of the first DVR the television industry and the ecosystem of research and services companies that serve it have literally no answer for the technology. Friend or foe? Moneymaker or market destroyer? Have you seen the leading television research company Nielsen's answers? There are sand burns on their faces from driving their heads so far down. If anything DVR technology has exposed the glaring flaw in television ratings methodology.

Concurrently social networking, along with search the single largest driver of traffic on the web in the last 7 years, is still a discontinuity looking for a business model. I would argue the only scalable examples of social networking businesses are actually the sites we normally think of as commerce sites; eBay, Amazon and iTunes. So as we speed along this exponential path in media, what are the next numbers in your sequence?,

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