By Don A. Holbrook, Contributing Writer
In this post pandemic or continuation of the COVID-19 virus global economic crisis, digital media has only grown more robust, strengthened by the sheltered and distance work requirements of surviving the threat.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a tireless destroyer of brick-and-mortar businesses as global public health officials warn everyone about engaging in face to face in-person interactions. On the other end of the spectrum, coronavirus is boosting almost anything that can be done online or with minimal human contact—big tech will be a huge benefactor of this pandemic. Companies such as Amazon, Facebook and YouTube are adding thousands of employees rapidly to respond to this economic opportunity and pandemic windfall for themselves.
The use of a smartphone app, the latest game on a video gaming console, and an ultrasound imaging device used in a hospital to safeguard lives are all examples of the breadth and diverse range of digital media products. Digital Media is engaging and gives instantaneous connectivity and responsiveness to humans. Digital Media is a blend of technology and content, it requires teams of professionals from our workforce with diverse skills, including technical, artistic, analytical and production coordination skills. Most of these skills are new or newer than the boomer generation. These type skills have some shared similarities. They become obsolete and are in a constant flux of improvement and they are displacing others previously antiquated skills by their increasing demands on the digital media workers. Digital Media is highly focused on creating the best user experience and anything that diminishes that is quickly abandoned or replaced. For these reasons digital media is considered a disruptive industry.
The world we live in today is populated by digital media products, and these products enable and deliver experiences in many industries, including industries that aren’t typically associated with digital media—such as entertainment, health, government and education. Most industries are quickly trying to ramp up their ability to engage and thrive within the new digital media-based global consumer market.
There are three major forms of digital media; Owned, Earned and Paid.
Owned digital media is the intellectual assets you have deployed electronically to the online or internet-based infrastructure of the world, such as websites, films, books, music, etc. Earned digital media is content that is shared by others such as word of mouth that builds traffic and interest in an owned digital media asset. Examples of this include reviews and other forms of recommendations on the internet. Paid digital media are tools utilized to direct, induce and generate traffic by marketing awareness to audiences that can be exposed to a digital media product.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital media clicked into high gear and completely rebuilt it’s focus on the globally sequestered consumers. Spend dollars shifted to necessities such as packaged goods, home deliveries of groceries and dining, and also additional technology-driven devices. The shift was rapid and distinct. Live events, cars, vacations, and other huge previous categories ground to a near zero. The exponential growth and shift to direct consumer-delivered experiences such as streaming media is busting at the seams. With movie theaters facing pre-covid challenges and now their closure, the streaming video market has exploded.
Currently, nearly every major media company is scrambling and engaged in an all-out streaming war to capture consumers. This war is to allow media companies looking to establish direct relationships with consumers a competitive market advantage. Today, all major U.S. TV networks and studios will have a stand-alone direct-to-consumer streaming service built and deployed by mid-2020. As these media companies launch their services, the big studios (content providers) are withdrawing content rights from third-party streaming platforms. This new media war is making it almost impossible for platforms to bring all major studios or networks under one umbrella.
The downside is that their inefficiency is wearing upon consumers as they grow frustrated with having to manage and pay for multiple subscriptions to watch what they want on demand and on their timeline. A research report by Deloitte suggests that consumers are willing to pay only for a certain number of streaming services. Deloitte’s Digital Media Trends Survey found that consumers have an average of three streaming video services, a number that has remained steady for two years. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/media-and-entertainment-industry-outlook-trends.html
The indirect economic boost of the digital media wars of 2020 is… the high growth in delivery and distribution jobs within the service industry. Companies such as Amazon, UPS and even the USPS are quickly trying to ramp up for this new normal.
The four pillars of that hold up the digital media industry and drive the trends that shape the new digital marketplace are personalization, contextualization, fragmentation of content, and partnership collaboration for distribution of these digital services.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor had previously predicted a job growth of a modest four percent per year within the digital media sector. Highly familiar jobs would be animator, content creator, digital marketing, producer, social media engagement, relationship manager, videographer and other highly-specific, unique, experience-driven employment positions.
So where is the pandemic job growth going to be best realized today and where will we emerge on the post-pandemic economic growth scale? Those are likely questions most have during these tumultuous times.
Any companies that rely upon physical experiences, human interactions that is within a physical space, will likely be challenged to reinvent their business model, upgrade their practices and abandon pre-pandemic protocols. The key to surviving will be captured by companies that are more agile and prepared with user content and experiences. Doing so, companies can unlock expand revenues while building resiliency. No one reasonable should expect things to return to anything similar to pre-pandemic standards, ever.
While digital media will grow at a significant rate over all other employment sectors, there is still a dark cloud in the economic future. According to a recent report by Mckinsey, unemployment and under-employment will continue to drag the global economy down.
“In the United States and the 15 core European Union countries (EU-15), there are 285 million adults who are not in the labor force—and at least 100 million of them would like to work more. Some 30 to 45 percent of the working-age population around the world is underutilized—that is, unemployed, inactive, or underemployed. This translates into some 850 million people in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Brazil, China, and India alone. Most attention is paid to the unemployed portion of this number, and not enough to the underemployed and the inactive portions, which make up the majority of untapped human potential. This economic lag translates to a $12 trillion economic detriment to the world economy.” https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/employment-and-growth/technology-jobs-and-the-future-of-work
This huge economic burden will not be worked through with our current business approaches being employed by the various governments and debt will eventually cap the economic sparring of this global workplace challenge.
The retooling of people to find new career skills within the digital media industry remains the biggest and brightest opportunity for returning people to dignified and financially rewarding employment. Currently, the digital media industry faces a lack of qualified workers and thus salaries are significantly higher within this sector than the U.S. average, about $69K per year according to salary.com. The OECD (organization for economic collaboration and development) expects unemployment to remain above 10 percent well into 2021 in the EU, and the United States.
Since digital media is a highly-specialized industry – schools, universities, and re-training workforce organizations should be tooling up and ramping up their ability to meet these positive job growth opportunities. Economic development professionals should be engaging their educational partners to urge quick investment into these areas of response to employment needs for employers. The market will absorb almost a limitless amount of new skilled workers for the near-term foreseeable future.
About the Author
Don A. Holbrook is a 25-year veteran economic development site location and incentive consultant. He and his team have worked on projects across North America and around the globe. His focus is primarily on place-based economic development tourism strategies and designing the team and products that communities’ can use to attract such investments. He lives in Las Vegas, Nevada and has written five, best-selling books speaking frequently around the world at professional functions. He has been featured on CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC, PBS television and radio networks, and in LA Times, USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post, FDI (the Economist Group) and many local television, print and radio interviews. He has been one of the North American Judges for FDI Magazine for the past six years on The Best Community Economies for Growth & Investment. He is a former board of director of the International Economic Development Council, and Fellow Member of IEDC, as well as Certified Economic Developer.