Topical Seminar on The Transformations of Media Consumption Strategies


Снимок экрана 2021-09-07 в 16.01.35.pngСнимок экрана 2021-09-07 в 16.01.57.pngThe first topical seminar in the fall semester featured talks by Professor Elena Vartanova and Professor Robert G. Picard, who discussed transformations of media consumption strategies. Professor Picard provided insights into some of the contemporary trends and analyzed their implications for communication strategies. Professor Elena Vartanova addressed the topic in the context of the Russian media and communication system.

Among the most dramatic changes observed in the last few years Professor Picard mentioned the dominance of screens, mobile phones and Internet-based connections. It changes the way humans and societies interact, affects the decision making and entails enormous sociological implications, most of which are yet to be uncovered. From what the scholars have been able to ascertain, the wide-spread usage of mobile phones promotes short-form communication, stimulates individual media consumption, impacts how the information flows, and affects the attention span. Mobile phones are also believed to be the reason for increase in total time spent with media and simultaneous use.

Another crucial trend is social networking, which has removed the necessity for content makers to associate with large organizations in order to create and distribute content. Thus, new formats of content distribution have changed some media activities into interpersonal communication. Yet another trend is the emergence of high choice media markets, which resulted in constant decline in audience size, and heavily reduced the influence by media channels.

The outlined changes have resulted in all media companies having to compete for attention and establish more frequent contacts with audiences, which largely increases the amount of content and shifts the control to the consumers. Abundance of media channels has made it difficult for firms to connect with the audiences and monetize their business. This forces a shift from audience-centric to consumer-centric strategy, which implies focus on individuals and tailored content, as well as transition to multiple models of monetization based on consumer payments for communication rather than advertising.

Professor Picard finished his presentation by highlighting issues of increasing concern triggered by the rapid shifts outlined above. These include power of large platforms, privacy breaches, online trolling, misinformation and disinformation, as well as conflicts in national and global governance of communications.

Professor Elena Vartanova continued the academic discussion, addressing the topic in the context of the Russian media and communication system. The scholar focused on the concept of audience, which acquired new meanings due to digitalization. Modern technologies facilitate the interactivity of media communication, creating a generation of “prosumers” and non-institutionalized professionals.

Professor Vartanova outlined current audience trends, such as the dual process of broadening and narrowing audiences, caused by ideological shift and new market orientation, as well as the spread of new technologies. Another important trend is mediatization, which possibly leads to the emergence of a new type of human: homo mediatus. Finally, the current situation revealed a tangible need for a new form of literacy, which would help consumers navigate through information flows in the new digital world.

Though it was revealed that audience was still missing as an independent subject of research, the main shifts in the Russian media system are linked to the changes in the audience’s behavior, e.g. rapid rise in the internet use and time of average daily media consumption. Thus, the trends demonstrated by the audience may be considered as a driver of media business.

Professor Vartanova then elaborated on media consumption by the Russian youth, noting that media can play very different roles for youngsters. Sometimes it fulfills traditional functions of information, education and entertainment, in other cases it serves as the most comfortable means of socialization and self-actualization, and in some cases people regard media as extensions of themselves.

The researcher finished her talk by briefly analyzing the challenges posed by the current trends, such as de-professionalization of journalism, the fall of advertising business model and competition with digital platforms. However, some of the challenges can trigger positive changes, such as development of much- needed programs of digital media education.

Topical seminar is a project launched by the Faculty of Journalism in the spring semester of 2021, which has already garnered attention of Russian and international researchers in media, communications and journalism. The idea behind is to organize a platform for sharing valuable insights and results of the latest research in this sphere of studies. The event is of utmost importance both for the integration of national scientific school into international academic environment and for the conceptualization of distinctive features of Russian media studies. Topical seminars are held online on the first Tuesday of every month and are available for any listener registered in advance.