Friday's panel on the Future of Media was pretty much a microcosm for the entirety of Internet Week, as media professionals gathered to dissect the changing media landscape and the uncertainty of the future for the industry. A diverse panel, including Adweek's own executive editor, James Cooper, packed an impracticably small television studio at NYU (though it was well equipped with a spillover room) to give their take on the state of an industry in transition.
On Facebook's official IPO day, the panel couldn't avoid questions about the social network, and the panelists seemed to be in agreement that the site has only continued to grow in importance as a traffic referrer for publishers. Jonah Peretti of BuzzFeed noted, "Facebook is our biggest traffic referrer by far," surpassing Google last year. Jessica Coen of Jezebel added that Facebook was also far and away the largest source of traffic for the Gawker property.
Death of the Banner Ad?
Another buzzworthy topic this Internet Week was the future, or possible lack thereof, for the banner ad. “As soon as a better mousetrap comes along, banners will go away,” Cooper told the audience. Some, like Peretti, are banking on the success of the social Web and brands emulating publishers to connect on a more emotional level with consumers. Coen cited the recent move of an editorial staffer to the Gawker sales team, and even admitted that she didn't notice the banner ads on her site anymore.
On Newspapers and Print
When asked about Warren Buffet's recent purchase of 63 newspapers this week, Reuters' social media editor, Anthony De Rosa, and newly elected Yahoo board member Michael Wolf seemed bullish on smaller, local papers, noting that there will continue to be a market for people to want to read the local news and see their kids in the paper. Speaking more broadly, Coen spoke to the tactile nature of the print medium and believes that there is still relevance there.
"There is something about holding a glossy magazine or a paper that can't be replicated," she said, adding that when a president is elected, people won't want to save a printed out Web page. It is worth noting, however, that Coen later said she would bet her entire income on the success of tablets in the coming future.
As to the future of the paper of record, Peretti speculated that in five years things would be pretty much the same for The New York Times. "In five years The New York Times won't be a great business, but they will do some very quality work, which is pretty similar to how it is now," he said.