When I was growing up in Blacksburg, Virginia in the 1970s, all a company had to do to reach the entire market of the town’s 10,000 residents was put an ad in the Blacksburg High School football program and a radio spot on WJJJ. If we weren’t at the game, we were listening to it.
I first heard the term "media fragmentation" from Ken Ray of AT&T. During his Entrepreneurial Summit address - Optimizing Customer Acquisition in a World of Media Fragmentation (.pdf) - Ray presented this slide.
According to Ray, the market of potential customers and clients had 6 information channels from which to gain information about a company's product or service in 1966. By 2006, that number had increased by 500% to 30 channels.
In a comScore product release, Dr. Magid Abraham, President and CEO of comScore, neatly defines the "increasingly complex digital media landscape" and its context: "The past few years have seen the rise of global Internet markets, the emergence of new distribution platforms, and a substantial increase in media fragmentation and niche audiences."
In an "increasingly complex digital media landscape," what's a company to do to reach potential customers when, instead of being in a few places – at the game or listening to it – they're everywhere?