The Future of Media Needs to Hurry Up: Everything is Changing

The future trends of media are not driven by one thing. They are driven by government, shifting cultural and consumption patterns of consumers, media organizations and technology companies. One early January morning, the CMA Media Council held a roundtable discussion on pressing issues facing the media industry and made a few predictions for the coming years. We channeled our inner Arthur C. Clarke with a bit of Nostradamus and applied our collective wisdom to see what’s ahead.

The following are the four areas we are all paying attention to:

Media, including agencies and clients, will not look like it does today – the current model simply cannot be sustained. A big topic of discussion right now is: “what will holding companies in our industry do to respond to clients and consultants?” We all agree that holding companies will determine much of our industry’s future. But we also believe that with cash in hand, larger consulting organizations could buy a holding company and change the nature of our industry again. We agree that the classic model of how media and marketing agencies work today needs to respond quickly to what is happening around them – including supporting the in-housing of elements of media.

Talent needs to not just evolve, it needs to build new capabilities on both the agency and client sides, that can be hands on keyboard i.e. talent/individuals with the ability to perform a range of skills (vs. siloed functions). The challenges of an industry designed around low experienced talent will end with the advent of marketing automation and artificial intelligence. We predict that skills will evolve and what will come out on the other side is talent that can analyze, plan and execute people and media, thus ending expensive process, hand-offs, miscommunication and silos in media and marketing organizations.

Consumers’ desire to understand who has and controls their data is not a passing whim. Blockchain is already focused on minimizing advertising fraud and shining a light on the ineffective and opaque nature of digital advertising. The implications of blockchain for personal identity management has yet to be felt – but soon will be upon us. The control of digital identities through blockchain will help resolve the blemishes on brands for hacks on personal data but also ensure that marketers cannot use identifiers in malicious or invaluable ways.

Media companies, driven by economics and government, will consolidate again even in an OTT world (OTT or “Over-the-top” refers to streaming services or delivery of content over the internet). TV is still TV even if it isn’t linear.  And it isn’t dying. The model isn’t firmed up either – Netflix’s original programming isn’t as successful as the content they acquire, and the revenues from acquired content goes back to the rights owners, like Disney. What does that do to a business model over time? How can an OTT service create content and have a sustainable business model? We believe that consolidation is inevitable, and companies like Netflix are good acquisition targets.

We believe that Canadian media companies are even more pressed by government regulations. An archaic notion of “media” is moving so slowly that we are not responding as a nation to economic pressures or consumers’ desire for content.

We are evolving our models, talent, media, and delivery too slowly. Our Council’s recent conversation was similar to the one we had in 2017. It is time for meaningful shift and commitment to change – because everything is changing around us.


By: Sarah Thompson, CSO, Mindshare and Co-Chair of the Media Council, CMA.

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