I don’t know about you, but I’m getting a little tired of hearing:

“Blogging is dead.”

“Newspapers are dead.”

“Email is dead.”

“The 30-second commercial is dead.”

“Print is dead.”

“Magazines are dead.”

“Paid search is dead.”

“Affiliate marketing is dead.”

“Behavioral targeting is dead.”

“Pop-ups are dead.”

“Friendster is dead.”  Well, okay, I’ll give you that one.

What is it with this feeding frenzy to pronounce media channels and tactics dead?

I’m as guilty as the next marketing guy. The account people at my agency, Tanen Directed Advertising, are getting sick of hearing me gleefully pronounce newspapers dead, as if I’ve somehow got a stake in the sale of their headstones and caskets.

And I’m just as wrong as everyone else, too, at least about Friendster and newspapers.

Friendster isn’t dead… it’s just different. 85 million members strong isn’t dead. It’s just moved to the Phillipines and Southeast Asia. (39% of it members are in the Phillipines.) But even in the US,  Friendster gets 2.6 million monthly unique visitors according to Quantcast.

Newspapers aren’t dead either, they’re just moving online. According to a Nielsen Online report done for the Newspaper Association of America, newspaper websites had 68.3 million unique visitors on average in Q3 2008, which is nearly 41.4% of all internet users, and is up 15.8% over the same period last year. It was also a record for page views, just over 3.5 billlion per month, which is 25.2% higher than the same quarter last year and the highest since the NAA started tracking it in 2004. The same quarter set records for page views, pages per person, time spent per person, and visits per person. In other words, more people are visiting newspaper websites more often, spending more time there, and getting more information there. (And those sites accept advertising.)

I just saw a great video interview with Michael Rosenblum at the Society of Editors conference 2008. He talks about how newspapers have a great, but dwindling window of opportunity, to retain and capitalize on delivering news to their audiences, as long as they keep the news and get rid of the paper. It’s worth watching, especially for his analogy of the death of the whale oil industry in New Bedford, and it’s here on Diablogue. (I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention Seth Godin’s great post, “Do you own trees?” from all the way back in June of this year.)

We live in interesting times. The rate of change is amazing. Blogging, just barely out of the womb, is being declared dead yet again. (For a great post and history of Blogging obituaries, see B.L. Ochman’s What’s Next Blog post, “The Annual Death of Blogging is Baaaaaack!” here. )

This is what media fragmentation looks like. This is what technological revolution and social upheaval looks like.

Everything is changing, but that doesn’t mean it’s dying. Shrinking, retrenching, transforming… but not dying. And yet we seem obsessed with premature declarations of death that set the stage for us to glorify and justify the media channel or tactic that we like much better… this week.

Can somebody please explain to me when we’re going to grow up, consign “…is dead” to the trash heap of overdone phrases (along with “…is the new black”) and start seeing the turmoil for the opportunity it represents?

Comments
  1. Jen says:

    I agree, especially on the “blogging is dead” thing. I’ve noticed this year that NO ONE is talking about blogging, but then I realized that it’s because it’s so accepted and mainstream that no one needs to talk about it…it’s past the point of buzz, but that doesn’t mean no one’s blogging anymore. Far from it.

    I’ll be a little disappointed if newspapers, magazines and books go completely digital. I really enjoy reading print publications, and hope I never have to take a Kindle to the beach. Plus, given the fact that I spend most of my workday staring at a computer screen, the last thing I want to do during my leisure time is stare at a computer screen.

  2. Otto Vondrak says:

    Excellent post. People are too quick to jump to the next thing, and I’m sure it will be years before we get a definitive outcome from the Myspace-Facebook Wars. I thought that this clip from the Simpsons was appropriate. Observe Dan Rather’s obvious disdain for the print journalist (does it matter that Dan Rather resigned in disgrace from his medium?) and the obvious cool, slicked-up hipster from Slate.com. If there wasn’t a grain of truth, it wouldn’t be satire.

    http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=527_1205782611

  3. jlsimons says:

    Jen, I couldn’t agree more about the Kindle thing. For me, nothing has or can replace the experience of a book. I’ve never even been able to listen to a book on tape, no matter how long the ride or compelling the reader.

  4. jlsimons says:

    Otto, that is a perfect video for this. Thanks! Haa haa!

  5. Eleanor Haas says:

    Nice one! Interesting panel yesterday at SIIA Brown Bag Lunch on cloud computing and content companies. NYT CTO was there, and he spoke of content initiatives unrelated to paper or, for that matter, to online news. All the “publishers” are coming to realize they’re really “content companies” and to focus on finding ever-new ways to monetize their content. Even copyright is not the issue it was, depending on context and use. The copyright law will probably gradually become more honored in the breach!

  6. jlsimons says:

    Thanks for your comment, Eleanor. Glad they’re realizing it. My wife reads the NYTimes every day — online! Me, I read it whenever an article I’m interested in on Google News comes from the times. I go, and usually end up surfing through the paper at that point. But we’ve both stopped buying it from newsstands. BTW, I think Creative Commons is a better solution to copyright for today’s issues, anyway.

  7. josef katz says:

    Everyone is always looking for the next big/great media idea. Blogging (and some of the other media listed) is not dead. Those media are just not “new and exciting” but still serves an important role in a strategic media plan. Some of the media listed might be dying but I think that is more because they didn’t adapt with the times and modify their business models. How many people do you know want to spend 5 or 6 figure budgets for ‘traditional’ media that is less effective than it used to be? Print didn’t/doesn’t have to die you know…?

    Now if you told me micro blogging or video marketing were dead well then I might just have to play dead…

  8. […] 15:25:51 · Reply · View directmaestro: is marketing dead..dead…dead https://jlsimons.wordpress.com/2008/11/19/deaddeaddead/ – tell my pal Jeff to get on twitter while your there 2008-11-21 15:13:02 · Reply · […]

  9. jlsimons says:

    Josef, you’re absolutely right about modifying business models and adapting — or else. If something is less effective — and I’m not just talking about reach, but actual effectiveness (driving sales)– then the prices should come down. Eventually, it becomes a bargain, and savvy marketers will appreciate the value. I think a model to look at is how certain magazines and tv shows have really come up with some innovative value added that does deliver results… and therefore is desirable.
    BTW, Mr. Twitter, you are the king of exploiting what’s new, but in a good way. (You may have got me started blogging, but I refuse to get addicted to Tweets.)

  10. Otto Vondrak says:

    Back in 1983, one of the hobby magazines I read had published a special 50th Anniversary issue. The magazine had been founded by a job printer in Milwaukee and grew to be a hobby leader, so it felt emboldened in its 50th year to make some predictions. They predicted in the next ten to fifteen years we would no longer have hard copies, but we’d go to to corner store and buy our periodidcals on “cartridges” (like an Atari) that we would plug into readers. Some scoffed. Why would we buy another appliance to do something that seems like second nature? Well, fifteen years came and went, but instead of cartridges, we have the rise of the Acrobat PDF format. Not quite the prediction, but close. And now with Amazon’s Kindle reader, it seems like that prediction has indeed come full circle. Yet, more and more magazines (especially niche targeted) appear each year. Long live print, print is dead.

  11. jlsimons says:

    I agree, Otto. I think it’s a little like new airlines compared with older, established ones. The old business models for magazines may be flawed, but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of room for new niche pubs, if they’re based on a more appropriate model.

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