The report re-stated some things that are obvious just from looking around, and formalised some things that for us were gut-instinct. The major thrust of the report is that a movement away from content creation to content distribution, fragmentation of the devices and platforms from which we access and consume the internet, and changing perceptions of the internet as an entertainment platform, are all bringing about a return to the traditional hierarchies of professional content generators, paid-for content, media giants, big brands and the political elite.
Good to read it all in one place and backed up by robust data though – and we like their name for it: The Social Entertainment Age. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Here’s a bit more detail on what the report says.
GlobalWebIndex identified three key themes in their report.
The rise of real time social
This is one of those so-far-so-obvious observations that we all knew anyway but is good to have verified by data. There has been, and is an ongoing, shift from the old text-based social media of blogs and forums, to real-time sharing of information and content enabled by micro-blogging services – such as status updates and tweets. This means that the emphasis of social media is no longer on creating content and publishing it, but on sharing other people’s content and real-time opinions about real world events. So the social web is now about distribution rather than creation, and consequently there is a shift of focus back to traditional media and professional content. This is major: for years the web has been seen as a threat to the traditional world of media giants, big brands and the political elite – now these changing trends in the way people participate in the social web are pushing us back towards those same hierarchies.
Packaged internet platforms
The way we access the internet is changing. The way we all know – the open, browser-based web – is losing out to ‘packaged’ internet platforms: tablets, mobile apps, internet connected TVs, e-readers, gaming and video platforms, PC apps. Increasingly, everything is wired in to the web. And Mobile is leading the way: over 17% of people surveyed watched TV in the last month on their mobile, and 26% watched an on-demand video on mobile. In keeping with the theme of ‘real-time social’, this is giving traditional media owners a second bite of the cherry – these packaged platforms allow them the means to create sustainable business models, to actually charge for their content – something that the browser-based web totally failed to accommodate.
The entertainment platform of choice
The online experience is now very strongly centred around ‘traditional style’ content. For hundreds of millions of consumers the internet , across multiple platforms, is about entertainment. This is caused by the growth in (legal and illegal) video sites, the rise of real-time and the sharing of traditional content that that implies, and the growth of packaged platforms.
Time will tell whether GlobalWebIndex are right in their assumptions and predictions, but one thing is for sure – the changes in behaviour that they are reporting are real, the data is good, and the drive back to the status quo seems inexorable. The question is whether this is a good or a bad thing, and for whom. What do you think?
This post originally appeared on my company blog, here.