Coping with de-differentiation

Media organizations between economization of content and medialization of commerce

Due to the economization and medialization of modern
societies, a new interrelation between brands and
media is emerging. On the one hand 'marketers are
buying less and less media. They are the media” (Lieb
2011). One example is the Emmy-award-winning short
film 'Two Bellmen” from Marriott Content Studios
owned by the international hotel chain Marriott, which
debuted in March 2015. On the other hand public media
operates more and more according the principles of
commerce. For example, the Washington Post 'could
quickly become a laboratory for the next generation of
integrated content and commerce' (Blodget 2013) after
its acquisition by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. This
emerging change in the relationship between brands
and media has fundamental impact particularly on
media organizations (e.g. organizational independence,
business models in the audience and advertising
market, revenues, organizational structure and
processes) and the production and perception of
entertainment and informational content (e.g. content
quality, journalistic independence, media credibility).
However, despite the significance of this phenomenon,
the body of relevant research is equally sparse in the
field of media theory (Baetzgen & Tropp 2015). This
research project analyses and discusses the theoretical
and practical implications of the new interrelation
between brands and media from a media industries
point of view. A theoretical framework will be
presented, which enables a systematic
conceptualization of the consequences resulting from
the de-differentiation for media organizations. To
achieve that, Giddens´ (1984) theory of structuration is
used to outline a profound model of the organizational
change in media companies, which is taking place
today. Thus, relevant developments on the macro,
meso and micro level will be linked and theorised in
order to examine the consequences of the mutually
reinforcing economization of content and medialization
of commerce in an integrated way. As a result,
postulates for media industries and content production
under the conditions of de-differentiation are derived,
which are related to functional communication
strategies (micro level), to organizational structures
(meso level), and to media organizations’ role as social
agents in societies (macro level). The findings can be
used as a theoretical framework for empirical studies
about the organizational change of media companies
and content production. Furthermore, they provide
media organizations practical guidance for decisionmaking
against the background of discontinuities and


Baetzgen, A. & Tropp, J.
(2015): How can brand-owned media be managed?
Exploring the managerial success factors of the new
interrelation between brands and media. International
Journal on Media Management, 17(3), 135–155.

Blodget, H. (2013): Here's Why I Think Jeff Bezos
Bought The Washington Post. Business Insider, Aug. 5,
washington-post-2013-8?IR=T, accessed: Feb.
27, 2016

Giddens, A. (1984): The constitution of
society. Cambridge: Polity Press. Lieb, R. (2011):
Content Marketing. Think like a publisher. How to use
content to market online and in social media.
Indianapolis, IND: Que Publishing.

Mitvortragende: Prof. Dr. Jörg Tropp
Vortrag auf Veranstaltung: ECC ECREA 2016
Veranstaltungsort: Prag
Datum: 10.11.2016 bis 12.11.2016

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