Is The Future F#cked? How Social Media & the Real-Time Web Are Changing the Game

jmakkarAbout this Guest Blogger: Johnny Makkar is a digital marketer who blogs at Attention Digital. You can also find Johnny on Twitter @jsmakr.

On Thursday night, Deep Focus hosted “Is The Future F#cked?” as part of Social Media Week which was held at the trendy Hudson Terrace. The big debate revolved around the future of media, a topic many people in the advertising and publishing industry have certainly been putting a lot of thought into lately.



Below are the frightening questions the panel focused on while providing their own insights. Make sure to also check out the video of the event (which should be up soon) along with the other commentary from attendees on Twitter using the hashtag #smwfcked.

Is traditional media f#cked?

Rob Norman doesn’t think so, stating “traditional media channels still give brands the push they need.” Nick Denton was brutally honest with his thoughts on newspapers, letting everyone know that he thinks “most are incredibly boring.”

“The news has to be entertaining.” I agree 100% with Joe and it’s pretty obvious why a show like John Stewart (which was referenced) has built such a large following. Ian is concerned about all content moving towards an a la carte model, which would make it extremely hard for content that appeals to a smaller niche to survive.

Rob asked, “where does creativity evolve from in a social world?” Nick replied that encourages his writers to be creative by rewarding the ones who bring in the most page views and unique visitors.


Joe Marchese and Nick Denton (from left to right) | Photo credit: Kelly Samardak’s Flickr

Is online advertising f#cked?

Ian wasted no time pointing out the downward trend in ad click-through rates vs. impressions. He does, however, give credit to Google which has proven that good impressions are worth more using valuable data. Ian’s newly coined term for the race-to-bottom in ad performance: “direct responsified.” (via @superfem)

Rob brings up word-of-mouth, which he points out is “now perceived to be measurable and more effective.” There’s no arguing that it’s becoming more effective, but what the industry is obviously still struggling with is the measurement part. Ian adds, “brands generally don’t know the value of an engagement with social media.” Social media measurement is a hot topic and a service many companies are trying to get right, but we still have a lot of work to do.

At another SMW event, Reinvention From The Ground Event, Pepsi’s Global Director of Social Media seemed to have similar thoughts, asking “How do you get your company and brand to evolve from a focus on impressions as a measure of media efficacy, to connections and engagement with consumers?”

Is the real-time web the future?

While there are many wonderful advantages to getting information faster, it takes a little more work on our part to become better filters of the social web. Ian summed it up nicely by saying, “we are all broadcasting information, anyone with followers and friends online. Now it’s our responsibility to call foul on news, brands, and celebrities when the truth is stretched.”

Nick Denton is not a fan, “Twitter is the worst facet of online media right now”, bringing up the Jason Calacanis’s recent iPad stunt which got picked up by a reputable blog as being a real product leak. But Nick also mentioned that Gawker get’s 5% of their stories wrong, so no matter what, no content provider is perfect (and the reason why lawyers are kept busy).

“As media becomes more social, that leads to inherent problems,” says Ian. Rob adds “brands want to protect their identity, so they don’t want to advertise in online environments.” It’s pretty clear why advertisers don’t want to attach themselves to sites like YouTube and Digg that rely heavily on user-generated content because of the large amounts of offensive material. “Commenters on most social media sites are idiots,” says Nick.

Final Thoughts

Everyone agrees that our attention is increasingly in limited supply. Yes, the future may be f#cked for many traditional content creators and media companies that aren’t paying close attention and adapting but that will only open doors for other players. It certainly helps to pay close attention to how certain businesses and brands are experimenting and adapting to stay relevant.

Other Quotes

“Everything single thing we do is a work in progress.” — Nick Denton

“When brands see results, it’s no longer an experiment” — Ian Schafer

“This makes our life is a fuck-load more complicated” — Joe Marchese

“Impressions are dead in digital because they are meaningless/fictional” — Joe Marchese

“Creativity is like magic, you can’t bottle it. You can never predict a popular story” — Nick Denton

“Social media allows audiences to opt-in and discover things” and “express an interest in a brand that might not view them as target audience” — Rob Norman