The future of selling is getting far more direct and easy with the on-line sales. The two sided market is fast shrinking to one sided as well, but we will come to that later.
A millennial reading a newspaper will be a rare sight. Why would she, when she has live streams reaching her throughout the day in so many forms. We must thankfully admit that this trend allows lesser trees to be felled, but it is not a matter of conscience that this has happened the way it did, as Jonathan Haidt, would have said. It is a matter of business in the digital world.
When Warren Buffet was hurling newspapers as a newspaper delivery boy, the weight of the newspaper in those days could be close to a pound, the weights increased since then (including the discount coupons that came with the paper). The Sunday edition of the New York Times could weigh several pounds, but the world has moved in a direction that thankfully the weight of the paper in print, whether newspapers or magazines have been coming down. Mr. Warren now owns twenty eight newspapers, he knows why it is still important, but we will come to that later.
If the world kept on the trend of increasing the pages in the newspapers, and if the whole world was becoming more literate, then all the trees would have had to be felled to satisfy the desire of reading news. But it was not to be.
But not really, the papers were just a way of reaching to people to promote some products, or services or it could be anything that the marketer was willing to pay for. The news items remained as a way of attracting people for a price, while the other business side of the action was to sell a product. Each of these actions is important for the sustainability of the business, if one side was doing good in terms of news items, it increased the chances of business for the other and vice versa.
When more items were on sale, the pages had to weigh more. As the products increased for sale, the price of the newspaper came down drastically as it was the advertisement that the newspaper owner was banking on and not the subscription and the economics was simple like a two-sided market, when the price of a newspaper was lower it would increase sales which in turn would attract higher fees for advertisement. This was a Nobel Prize winning contribution from no other than Jean Tirole, who studied platform markets.
The television became the next medium to do the same and with 24 hour news channels, the action could be round the clock. But the digital world changed one single very important dimension missing from all this. The dimension of interaction and connectivity, the days of being a passive recipient of news were numbered as the digital world was taking over. Also the very hazy way of assuming that an advert would be increasing sales was up for some serious questioning.
If the events of the world were happening then there has to be a way of connecting with them where we have a way of saying what we think about them. This inter-connectedness although attempted by many through innovations had a very limited success till the digital world took over. There was also this doubt whether a particular advert was making any difference to the product sales.
But let me deal with the other side first, the selling side.
Now there are other ways of selling. The internet is the giant newspaper, almost freely available for putting up news items and people could access them freely. The question is however different. Now it is far more difficult to attract people to particular news platforms, as practically so many could be available.
So the newspapers continue, although with reduced weights, and there are other platforms available today to display your product, it need not be the print medium alone. So while the marketers have other options, the buyers of newspapers who were so inclined to know the news first thing in the morning have actually no use of it as almost throughout the day every tiny bit that happens around the globe is available to him. In fact he does not have to go searching for the news, if he could subscribe to a particular type of newsfeed, he could get the news travel to him without a fuss.
I have seen that the changing taste of news in the millennials the most, they are hardly eager to get to the morning paper or to the news channel, they have preference for the news items, they do not want to be drenched with the news of all kind; they would want to select what news should be important for them.
This is where the marketers have shifted their focus, if you want to sell anything to a millennial you do not put that advertisement up on a print medium or a 24 hour news channel; that will probably go unnoticed to the target group. You also had to have a way of accounting for a sale for a particular investment made through adverts.
You will do better to find out where the millennial is spending his time most of the day, where the chance of picking on his attention will be that much higher.
Not in the hierarchy of things that I have researched so far, but in the list of preferences, the real population who are below 25 years are mostly on Facebook, Whatsapp, Viber, Snapchat, Instagram or LinkedIn, Spotify, You Tube, followed with Blogs where they have specific interests, some of them could be related to news or business news. One has to constantly watch which next platform or app gets the better off the prevailing ones. The total number of hours that one could be on chat sessions could vary from zero to several hours and this could virtually be at any time of the day.
But why would you think the local newspapers in the U.S. although with much less circulation still influences the likes of Buffett to be attracted to them? It is because in these towns one would have not millennials but much older people, whose interests lie in knowing what happened in the town, rather than what is shaking the world. Buffett understands this far better than others and owns twenty eight of them in his portfolio.
So what you are selling and to whom will continue to determine what you do with your advertisement. But with digitization this is changing to the other extreme where the market does not need to go through an intermediary to reach a critical mass, it could be done through automatic feeds. If you have bought an item on-line, you could be reached directly for all your next purchases and there would be no need to get around an intermediary who was supposed to be taking the onus of influencing you.
The more on-line sales you clock, the more your preferences are routinely getting recorded. This is where the digital platforms will supremely score over the others in the long run. They would be the repository of all your experiences with purchases throughout your life.
The future of selling is getting far more direct and easy with the on-line. The two sided market is fast shrinking to one sided.