A content desert?

2 minutes estimated reading time

I started thinking about the idea of a content desert for a few reasons:

Experian Marketing Services put out a really nice whitepaper out in June as part of their ConsumerSpeak series called Millennials come of age. One graph stood out to me; the split across generations between traditional and digital media consumption.
media diet
On the face of it, two things struck me, consumption of online media increased between millenials and generation X – but not in a way that makes them radically different – . There was also a marginal increase in overall consumption between generation Y and generation X. Is this due to media literacy, less commitments or they were having to work harder to get a similar amount of value from their media consumption?

We had a focus group in the office looking at the personal media consumption habits of 18 – 24 year olds with an interest in sport. One of the things that came out of this was that they would only buy a magazine about their favourite sport if they were getting on a long plane journey. They thought it was ‘too expensive’ to spend £4 on a magazine. A colleague who sits near me loves the magazine and gets a lot out of the long form articles published in it. He uses these articles as social currency, in the office and with friends. However the panelists that we met felt that they could get everything they needed from sources that they perceived to be of equal quality via free online media.

This stuck with me for a few days, then I realised why I kept churning it around in my mind. It reminded me of the kind of dialogue and decision-making process that was made by poorer people around food and nutrition. A mix of skewed value systems and economics brought a food desert into these areas.

I wonder if we aren’t seeing the same thing in the media industry, whilst we know that Buzzfeed and their ilk provide easily-consumed low-quality content usually about first world problems or childhood nostalgia – are generation Y merely getting the media that they deserve? Will there be a content desert? How would a content desert impact brands and perceptions of value?

A few things give me hope that there may not be; Vice Media is building the global news network that is defining the 2010s in the same way that Aljazeera defined the post-9/11 world and CNN defined the end of the cold war. Although you could argue that with Vice the bill is paid by branded entertainment on behalf of sponsors like Nike and Intel.

Television has entered a new golden era in dramas; will media companies take the opportunity to reinvigorate factual programming? More related content here.