Media Management in the Age of Tech Giants: Collaboration or Co-opetition?
History has shown that the advent of advertising in the media landscape had a significant impact on content, audiences, management, revenue streams, culture and consumption. The advertising boom saw the emergence of media monopolies and super capitalization of the media industry. Media firms made super-profits, with the average newspapers’ return on investment of between 15 and 20 percent in the last 50 years. Along with these profits, one saw an un-responsiveness by the media to their audience and advertiser demands, needs and wants. The maxim was that freedom of the press was guaranteed only to those who owned a press. The prevalent business model was based on selling eyeballs/audience ratings (ARs) to advertisers, along with frequent rises in ad rates of media firms.
The internet changed all of this. The rise of digital media, the emergence of online publishing and the advent of Web 2.0 brought in a whole new world, and the mainstream media has been in financial crisis since then, struggling to find appropriate business and management responses to the rapidly changing media ecosystem. Most media industry leaders watched in amazement as these changes took hold but did very little to harness the power of the new media landscape because newspapers, in particular, had successfully weathered the emergence of both radio and television in the past. The media industry thus largely dismissed the internet and digital and social media as passing fads. They were not. Soon the mainstream media were struggling financially, cutting back on editorial staffs, attempting different business models, and watching the rise of citizen journalism.
The intervention in the media market by global technological giants such as Google, Facebook, and Apple, among others, has deepened and accelerated an existential financial and economic crisis that had already gripped ‘old’ media since the worldwide economic crisis of 2007-2009. In recent years, several leading media firms around the world have wilfully handed over their content to Facebook’s ‘Instant Articles’, Apple’s News, and Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages to seek what has been promised as greater and faster distribution of their content to audiences and increased revenue.