Emerging Seniors, Emerging Media, Emerging Opportunities

According to the Pew Research Center’s 2010 Internet & American Life Project, there will be over 26 million seniors using the internet in the U.S. by 2015. By 2030, tech-savvy baby boomers will mature into this demographic, making nearly one in five Americans using the internet a senior citizen. However, this demographic feels largely ignored by marketers, advertisers, and providers of goods and services across the spectrum…including colleges and universities.

An article in the New York Post found that according to Nielsen ratings data, once viewers turned 55, they were not being counted, likely because they’d passed the age that appeals to advertisers. But the article found that Alpha boomers are the fastest-growing demographic in the nation, making up half the population and spending more money on goods and services — nearly $2 trillion — than any other age group. They also buy more technology and gadgets — 40 percent of the market — than any other demographic according to research.

Emerging Seniors Graphic

It’s not just advertising that isn’t capitalizing on this growing demographic. In an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Barbara Vacarr suggests that traditional four-year colleges should be thinking about shifting gears to focus on this change, potentially creating programs for students in their 50s and beyond…people who also apparently have the money for and interest in these programs. It is heartening to know that the Program Goals and Learning Aims of the Emerging Media program at Loyola University Maryland address some of these issues head on, and provide a platform for analytically and ethically addressing other issues posed by the seismic change of U.S. population demographics.

By Margaret Perry, Graduate Student

Master of Arts in Emerging Media

Loyola University Maryland



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Online Streaming vs. Cable — Who Will Win?

As more consumers engage in online streaming, cable will be at a risk to lose viewership. According to a recent study from Nomura Research, that decline may already be well underway.

Nomura’s February report compiles data from major cable networks that shows a year-over-year drop in ratings of 12.7 percent, a trend Nomura researcher Anthony DiClemente called “one of the worst declines we have seen since we launched coverage of these companies.”

The effect that streaming has on cable is fairly simple. Not only is streaming cheaper in most cases, but it offers the convenience of being available on most portable devices and allows users to watch programs at their convenience.

If cable is going to fall by the wayside, will it happen soon? While streaming is gaining in popularity, cable still controls a good share of the market. Last March, Consumer Reports, citing a Mintel Group study, noted that the average monthly cable bill is $154, with many customers buying bundle options that combined phone and/or Internet with their bill.

This issue is part of the net neutrality debate. Internet providers could begin slowing down or charging more for certain streaming services should net neutrality’s regulations fall. As this RT America story explains, even an entry into the marketplace from a non-cable TV provider such as Google could still lead to price increases for streaming:

There is rampant dissatisfaction with cable. According to the aforementioned Consumer Reports story, 71 percent of subscribers said they would switch cable providers should the net neutrality regulations be tossed out and lead to slower streaming speeds. However, as the Consumer Reports article points out, attempts to switch providers will be tough for most Americans, as many regions are served by just one provider.

In order for streaming to fully overtake cable, reasonable prices and constantly improving speed will have to remain in place for all users. Giving more leeway to cable companies in controlling either one of these factors would change the dynamic of this discussion. While streaming is currently on track to change the way users view television and films, cable still has a measurable influence over Internet service and could gain further control over streaming speeds, ensuring that it keeps its competition from further penetrating the marketplace.

By Zachary Spedden, Graduate Student
Master of Arts in Emerging Media
Loyola University Maryland
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Finding Family on Facebook – Even a Stranger’s Family

By now we all know the merits of Facebook – stay in touch with family and friends, seek and share information, raise money, advocate for a cause, remember a birthday, celebrate a life, find a lost-lost friend or relative…on and on it goes.

But here’s a bit of a twist, all because of one man’s kindness. While mining his local landscape with his metal detector, a Georgia man came across a silver bracelet with a name inscribed in it. After closely examining it, he determined that the bracelet was decades old. Not content to simply add it to his hobbyist findings, he decided the family of the bracelet owner just might like to have that bracelet back. But who was the family? And where was the family?

Angela Martin Blog Illustration

The gentleman posted an announcement about the bracelet on the search page of a local online newspaper. The newspaper then took it a step further, posting his announcement on its own Facebook page. In no time at all, the daughter and grandson of the bracelet owner replied, and they were given their father/grandfather’s bracelet – a piece of his life that carried sentimental value well beyond whatever the little bit of silver may have been worth.

Without Facebook, the gracious man who decided to track down the bracelet owner’s family still might have been able to locate them via the local online paper’s search page. Facebook made it happen practically in the blink of an eye.

So the next time a nonbeliever says to you, “I don’t use Facebook; I couldn’t care less what my friends ate for breakfast,” you might just want to share this heartwarming story.

By Angela Martin, Graduate Student
Master of Arts in Emerging Media
Loyola University Maryland
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Paid to Use Facebook?

I recently came across an article on Tech Crunch called, “Facebook Unveils Facebook At Work, Lets Businesses Create Their Own Social Networks.  This immediately caught my attention because not only am I interested in the many ways society uses Facebook, but because I never thought Facebook would actually create something like this. Let me explain.

The article discusses how Facebook is launching a product under the working title FB@Work, which lets businesses create their own social network that looks and acts like Facebook itself. They have already launched apps for IOS and Android phones, as well as a main website that can be accessed from a computer or laptop. Companies that utilize this product can create separate log-ins for their employees or they can link up with their personal accounts so that everything is in one place. Lars Rasmussen, the engineering director at Facebook who is in charge of the project, says that a small set of external businesses around the world are already testing out the product. Facebook’s goal is to have the product utilized by organizations with 100+ employees.


It makes sense, to me at least, to have a version of Facebook in which employees can make use of their company and/or organization. As I continued to read the article, Rasmussen says, “Facebook has effectively been working on Work for the last 10 years, because it is based on what Facebook’s own employees have been using to communicate with each other, pass on news, plan meetings and share documents. That long-time use and Facebook’s familiarity to all of us are part of what makes Facebook confident that it can carve a place for itself in a market that already is very crowded.”

This is an amazing development in further integrating social media with/in the workforce. Many individuals use this social media platform. Integrating it as a part of one’s work life could help improve productivity because the employee already is familiar with the concept of Facebook. It is even noted toward the end of the article that employee collaboration and work progress are hindered because employees don’t want to learn the software needed; it doesn’t feel essential. Since most are already familiar with the Facebook layout, FB@Work could help with work performance.

If the organization I am involved with utilized FB@Work, being on a social media site all day wouldn’t really feel like work to me. Actually getting paid to do it? Don’t mind if I do.

By Noel Barreira, Graduate Student
Master of Arts in Emerging Media
Loyola Univeersity Maryland





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#Like a Girl

In many of the discussions about the Hashtag Bowl, also known as the Super Bowl, an ad that tugged at our heartstrings and began conversations keeps coming back up. Not the Nationwide ad – which less tugged at heartstings and more just really bummed us out – or the Budweiser puppy commercial, which didn’t start much of a conversation beyond those about how cool it would be if horses and puppies were really friends.

Instead, it was the Always ad, which so perfectly encapsulated the transition from fierce, energetic girl to insecure, weakened teenager that so many women know so well. Beyond the visuals of this ad – the mocking gestures and heavily made-up teenagers – the inclusion of the hashtag #LikeAGirl made all the difference. It took whatever we feel about femininity, whatever experiences we remember from growing older and losing our more confident edge, and allowed them to begin an important conversation through social networks.

Naturally, some social users took this opportunity to input their fairly mysoginistic views on how women are viewed. I’ll leave you with one user’s take on these individuals:

Like a Girl

Through the massive engagement of this hashtag, it is clear that women and men out there alike are eager to discuss these defining gender issues. According to iSpot, the #LikeAGirl ad generated 415,144 social actions just on game day alone. More than 2 million people have viewed it online. These numbers reflect the ever-changing social and cultural views on gender, women’s rights, and what it truly is or is not to be like a girl.

As a young woman, it is encouraging to see such engagement, especially during male-dominated entertainment and plenty of heartstring-tugging Dadvertising. The conversation doesn’t end here, as the implications of Hashtag Activism have not yet been solidified into direct social change.

However, in the many tweets I pored over with the #LikeAGirl hashtag, far more were about female empowerment, supporting daughters and sisters, and expanding our awareness of how our expectations affect young girls than about putting women down. The conversation has started, and we’ve witnessed the power of a hashtag combined with massive advertising dollars in getting a message through to an audience who may need it more than others.

By Cassidy Duckett
Emerging Media Graduate Program
Loyola University Maryland
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Think Globally About Emerging Media

Russ Cook - IMAX ImageFigure 1. I took this photo of the world’s biggest IMAX theater at Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia.

When visiting our son and his family in Sydney, Australia, my wife and I were surprised to discover the world’s biggest IMAX theater “down under.” As rich, ethnocentric Americans whose fellow citizens started the movie industry, we assumed that we rule the silver screen and that we can boast the biggest and best of everything, especially when it concerns media. After all, entertainment media are our nation’s number one consumer export. Our movie studios flood the world with feature films. However, global stats show that the United States trails other nations in both cinema production and consumption.

Asian and African nations began to compete with the U.S. global entertainment juggernaut in the late 1990s, when digital video cameras and computer-based editing lowered production and distribution costs. Whether or not we want to admit it, the stats prove that these other countries are beating us in our own multimedia game.

Figure 2 shows the top feature film producing nations in 2009. The total world output that year was 7,193 features, an all-time high. India’s Hindi-language motion picture industry, nicknamed “Bollywood”, led with 1,288 titles, while Nigeria’s film industry, or “Nollywood”, ranked second with 987 features produced. The U.S. was a distant third, producing 694 features.


Figure 2. Leading nations in number of feature films produced
and percentages of the world’s total output in 2009.

As well as leading the world’s nations in production of motion pictures in 2009, India also bought the most theater tickets. Indians purchased 2.217 billion tickets for feature film exhibitions, which was 43.2 percent of the 6.74 billion total theater admissions among 70 nations that year. The United States was second with more than 1.42 billion admissions (21%) among a population of 306 million persons. China was a distant third with 263.8 million admissions (3.9%) among a population of 1.28 billion persons (see Figure 3).


Figure 3. Leading nations in feature film admissions in millions
and percentages of the world’s total admissions in 2009.

The “America First” crowd might complain that it is unfair to compare movie ticket sales in the U.S. and India because of the population disparity. What about the number of cinema tickets bought per citizen? Surely the U.S. rules by that measure, right? Wrong. The tiny island nation of Iceland led the world in 2009 in per capita feature film admissions; each Icelander bought an average of 5.8 movie tickets that year. Americans came in a close second, purchasing 5.2 movie tickets per person. Figure 3 compares the top twelve nations in per capita feature film admissions; each exceeded the average of 1.4 admissions per person among 70 nations for which data were available (see Figure 4).


Figure 4. Leading nations in per capita
feature film admissions in 2009.

Rather than feeling threatened by media competition from other nations, we should celebrate our good fortune. Flourishing domestic cinema industries in other countries increase opportunities for U.S. media exports and jobs for Americans, enrich our own cultural products, and promote peace and understanding. As students and faculty in Loyola’s Emerging Media program, we should remember that we participate in a truly global media marketplace. Media are emerging—globally. (These statistics came from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s [UNESCO] Institute for Statistics Data Centre at Cinema: Exhibition of Feature Films, 2009, http://stats.uis.unesco.org.)

Russell J. Cook, Ph.D.

Communication Professor

Loyola University Maryland


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Social Media Marketing: So Easy Even a Caveman Can Do It

“I’ve heard that my business should be active in social media. That should be easy.”

That’s how it starts. Your neighborhood plumber/hair stylist/restaurateur has gotten the brilliant idea that they need to have a presence on Facebook. Or maybe a friend told them how hilarious they are, so they should tweet. They’ll definitely get thousands of likes/followers.

If the plumber/hair stylist/restaurateur is savvy, they’ll start to do a little research. They’ll check out some social media marketing sites to get some ideas. Maybe they’ll sign up for a Marketo newsletter to get some samples of social media calendars and some campaign ideas. Maybe they’ll start following some of the thought leaders in social media marketing. Perhaps they’ll talk with someone they know who has professional experience with social media.

That’s not going to happen.

Caveman Blog

We have to remember that social media marketing is so easy even a caveman can do it. First, they’ll go to the youngest member of their staff. Social media is, of course, only for the young. They’ll instruct that person to start posting, taking artsy pictures of wrenches/hair/food, and start making videos. Then they’ll wonder – and possibly even blame that youngest member of their staff – why they aren’t getting results.

Social media has more complexities than many people realize. On the surface, it looks easy, but success takes hard work and time. It’s trying to capture your audience in 10 seconds of face time while surrounded by hundreds of others trying to do the same. Had the plumber/hair stylist/restaurateur done their research, they would have been on the right track. Tools like Hootsuite and Edgar are there to help schedule and plan social media campaigns, as well provide analytics on social media content. Joining social media marketing groups on LinkedIn offers a wealth of information and network connections. With the right tools and a little research, successful social media marketing is not an unattainable goal.

The Oatmeal has a web comic on how to get Facebook likes for those who are interested (crossing fingers that the plumber/stylist/restaurateur understands satire).

Meme created on imgflip

By Morgan Smith, Graduate Student

M.A. in Emerging Media

Loyola University Maryland


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