Ron Tite, CEO of content agency the Tite Group, has some strong words for the media on what he sees as the death of the separation of church and state, or rather ad dollars and editorial, in the media. During a presentation yesterday at Dx3—a retail, technology and digital marketing conference hosted by Hut2Hut Events—Tite argued that the lines between paid advertorials and news began to blur years ago with the creation of smaller network programming.
“It started years ago with the rise of niche content like HGTV and the Food Network,” said Tite . “Foodies are freaks who’ll take pictures of their food then review it on YouTube and these channels gave people their first shot at consuming niche content 24-hours a day.”
Founded in 1994, HGTV and the Food Network began producing niche-content for foodies, on a lower budget than traditional networks, that provided brands a less expensive ad option for reaching their target audience. Fast forward 12 years and we now have a rapid decline in traditional media revenue and the rise of the Instagram, smaller broadcast networks, and online media becoming the mainstream.
“Now we can shoot and distribute niche content from our smartphones that is cheap and instant,” said Tite. “How can anyone compete with that?”
As an example Snapchat now has 100 million users world wide, consuming on average 30-minutes of content a day. That’s a lot of eyeballs.
“The media used to fight for ad dollars but now it is at war for our time,” said Tite.
Traditional media is evolving to compete.
When Post Media forced its papers to endorse Stephen Harper in the 2015 election, that line continued to get fuzzier. Tite does not begrudge publishers or broadcasters like Rogers from seeking new revenue sources but rather commends them for getting into the game. Rogers, for example, profits off of every step in its promotion of the Blue Jays Major League Baseball franchise. The company owns the team, owns the sports news channel Sportsnet, the stadium where the team plays and the distribution network for the games content.
People order cable to watch Blue Jays games via Sportsnet, which promotes other Rogers media properties. Sportsnet leads off its programming with a features on the Blue Jays, which thereby can help drive ticket sales. But does that break traditional editorial guidelines?
“The separation of church and state [in media] is dead,” said Tite. “Traditional media is fighting for its survival and it has thrown away the rule book.”
Want more insights on the state of Canadian journalism, read the 2016 State of the Media.