mardi 25 juillet 2017

Anatomy of a hegemony. GAFAM oligopolies and media properties in USA

comScore (WPP) just published the ranking of the top 50 US digital media properties for June 2017 (sites, mobile and desktop; home and work locations), based on unique visitors. An opportunity to take stock, and to study the anatomy of a hegemony.
  • GAFAM first. It should not be a surprise: Google, Facebook (the so-called advertising "duopoly") are first in this ranking, then Microsoft and Amazon. Apple, which is not in the advertising business at all, is ranked N°9. Should it be part of the GAFAM family?
    • On the other hand, Microsoft is clearly one of the GAFAM, especially once taken into account LinkedIn (Talent Solutions) and its search partnership with Yahoo!. 
    • Not only GAFAM but also smaller social networks: Snapchat, already ranked N° 18, Twitter, N°13, and Pinterest, N° 26, are among the first US digital media properties .
  • We can observe the effect of recent consolidations: Yahoo! and AOL (Oath) should now be combined with Verizon; also one should combine Microsoft and LinkedIn, acquired recently by Microsoft, ranked N°16. Not to mention Comcast with NBCU. The new American administration will probably encourage concentration (AT&T + Time Warner?).
What about traditional media becoming digital?
The first media group in the comScore ranking (N° 6) is Comcast / NBC Universal (a cable MSO + commercial TV networks), CBS Interactive (commercial network) follows (N°8). ESPN (Disney / ABC) is relegated to N°31.

What about print media, newspapers and magazines?
Those most widely mentioned or talked about media properties are actually not the best ranked: The New York Time (N° 27), The Washington Post (N° 32, here, but shouldn't it be merged with Amazon?). The first newspaper ranked among the American digital media properties is also the only American national newspaper, USA Today (N° 14).
Magazines are doing a little better : Time Inc. (N° 11), Conde Nast (N° 19).
Should legacy publishers keep on feeding and legitimizing the new digital media with their content (see "La TV, horizon indépassable de tout média ?")?
Netflix is N°30. It will be more and more watched on smartphones, desktop and connected TV (or streaming devices). Its comScore ranking will surely improve.
Market capitalization ($ billion)

If we were referring to market capitalization instead of audience, then the ranking would differ slightly: Microsoft is ahead of Facebook and Amazon. Comcast, the major American media conglomerate, is far behind (1 August, 2017).

GAFAM is obviously still a fuzzy and deceitful working concept (stopgap). These 5 GAFAM do not have the same business structure. Their common strength lies probably in Artificial Intelligence (science, technology) and cloud computing (processing power). They are called "tech giants": how to figure that? Which indicators to choose? Advertising might only be the most visible aspect of GAFAM's dominance, merely a consequence, not a cause. How could legacy media end up winning the advertising battle? Certainly data is an opportunity but not without science, technology and engineers. Data is much more than just a coat of make up, a matter of speech.

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