Friday, January 7, 2011

2010 Milestones in the Media Revolution

The media revolution continued in 2010, and when you stop to think about it, continued to be astonishing. Here are some major milestones, as reflected in year-end reports, that are reshaping journalism, public affairs and all communications.

Year of Facebook. Hollywood paid tribute with The Social Network, which is high on the list of Oscar favorites, and Time magazine followed suit by naming Mark Zuckerberg its Person of the Year. But even more historic: Facebook topped Google as the most visited website in the country, pulling in 8.9% of all website traffic compared with 7.2% for Google. Amazing.

The Time profile of Zuckerberg shows that the radical impact of Facebook goes far beyond its size and reach. It's creating a post-Google Web that is changing the way people connect and work around the world. Instead of an anonymous jungle filled with howling strangers, which is how the Web was evolving, 600 million Facebook users now enter a world of friends, contacts, referrals and recommendations. "It's a shift from the wisdom of crowds to the wisdom of friends," says (Sheryl) Sandberg (Facebook’s COO). "It doesn't matter if 100,000 people like x. If the three people closest to you like y, you want to see y." And it’s becoming a primary channel for reaching Americans of all ages.

Gaining on TV. The Web continued to gain on television as the primary source of news for most Americans. Only three years ago, the public favored TV news by a huge margin, 74% to 24%. By the end of last year, the gap was 66% to 41% - still sizable, but down by half and rapidly shrinking. A new study by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press showed that 31% of the public cite newspapers as their primary source for national and international news, and 16% radio. (Respondents could cite two primary sources.)

Web Ads Top Newspapers. And in another historic milestone, for the first time websites took in more advertising money in 2010 than newspapers. Early reports indicated that online ads grew by nearly 14%, to about $26 billion, while newspapers suffered an 8% drop, to about $23 billion (not counting their on-line editions).

We know we are living in a revolutionary era. Reports like these show how fast the changes are coming, and how radically they’re changing our world. Hang on.

- Potomac Communications Group

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