Introduction to Digital Media (Online): Understanding Platforms and Content

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Kimberly Rapp
Associate Director of Business Development and Learning Solutions
+1 212-854-1445

Duration: 6 Weeks
Time Commitment: 3 hours/week

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"The last two decades have seen media industries change in unprecedented ways. This online program provides an overview of the main media platforms and content domains to highlight the key drivers of competitive advantage and profitability."
– Miklos Sarvary, the program's Faculty Director

Faculty director Miklos Sarvary explains how the program helps media executives stay on top of the competition.

Media has changed significantly in the past decade. There are new verticals, new platforms, and new content sources. So how do media experts continue to navigate successfully in this ever-changing space? What are the industry dynamics, and how do you stay on top of the competition?

This program is designed for media professionals who want to better understand – in order to continue to compete within – the changing media industry. In Introduction to Digital Media (Online): Understanding Platforms and Content, Professor Miklos Sarvary will examine the businesses of the major media game changers – like Google and Facebook – as well as that of traditional media companies who have tried to adapt to the Internet era to learn from their mistakes and successes.

With this knowledge, participants will be equipped to make stronger decisions about their organization’s media strategy and tactics and better anticipate the next media moves in order to develop a sustainable competitive advantage.

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Participants in the program will emerge with a better understanding of how to build sustainable competitive advantage for their firm. They will:

  • Understand how people consume different media
  • Gain insider knowledge of the key media platforms that have emerged in recent decades
  • Learn the fundamental drivers of the media industry, including consumer behavior and economic/structural factors
  • Understand the various media ecosystems
  • Gain an understanding of how to interface with large new media companies that are challenging traditional media industries and have become powerful advertising platforms
  • Explore various media business models and approaches to innovation in the new advertising/communication landscape

Upon completion of this program, you will earn one day towards a Certificate with select alumni and tuition benefits. Learn more.


Introduction to Digital Media (Online): Understanding Platforms and Content is comprised of six modules. Each module includes:

  • 10- to 15-minute video lectures with supportive presentation materials
  • Industry case study
  • 2-3 additional readings
  • Polling and discussion questions
  • The program covers:
    • 3 Platforms: Broadcasting, Search, and Social media
    • 3 Content Domains: Entertainment, Information, and News

View a Program Excerpt

Module 1 – The Birth of a New Medium: Broadcasting
This module first introduces the characteristics of the media industry and then discusses the birth and early history of Radio in the USA and how it evolved into Television after WWII. Important parallels are drawn for today when another new medium (the Internet) is about to disrupt broadcasting and other media industries. This module also focuses on traditional TV’s new challenger: online video.

Module 2 – Exploring the Global Search Industry
This module will discuss the search industry. Of course, we will talk about Google – one of the largest media companies by market cap – and analyze how it came to dominate the global search business. An important goal of the module is to explore some of Google’s core technologies and how they form the basis for competitive advantage.

Module 3 – The Implications of Social Media
This module discusses the emerging social media industry. We will analyze the largest social network today: Facebook. Special emphasis will be put on consumer behavior on social media and its implications for revenue models and competitive advantage.

Module 4 – The New Revolution: Entertainment Content
This module will analyze industries in specific entertainment sectors (books, music and film). These industries’ history and industry dynamics are strongly linked to the evolution of some recording technology. Books, movies, music are all industries where some content has been recorded and, as a result, allows the distribution of the content to millions of people. Generally speaking, these are “hit-driven” industries where a few content pieces dominate in terms of the share of industry revenues. How to run a business dominated by “hits” is the focal question of the module.

Module 5 – The Other Side of Content: Decision Making
This module will discuss information markets, where content is used for decision making rather than entertainment. Database vendors, information providers (e.g. Bloomberg for financial information, that we analyze in more detail), consultants are all part of the information industry. The module focuses on how information is consumed and the strange competitive forces that may emerge in information markets.

Module 6 – The News Outlier
In this module, we will analyze a case on The Economist to understand what lies behind its success at a time when newspapers are generally declining. We will also explore in detail how readers/viewers consume news and what might be the reasons behind the phenomenon of media bias.

For a complete program schedule, please download the agenda.


Introduction to Digital Media (Online): Understanding Platforms and Content is designed for professionals in media companies and agencies. It is also suitable for professionals who work extensively with media companies and media channels (such as marketers and advertisers).

Alumni and up to four of their colleagues are eligible for a 25 percent tuition benefit for full-price Executive Education in-person programs lasting up to seven days and all full-price online programs. More on the Alumni Tuition Benefit.

Typical Participant Mix

Geographic Spread

Years of Management Experience

Job Function



This program is also ideal for teams within an organization to learn together. If you are interested in enrolling as a team, please contact our Learning Solutions Specialists at


Miklos Sarvary, Faculty Director
Carson Family Professor of Business
Faculty Director of the Media Program

Miklos Sarvary's expertise focuses on information marketing and media. He has used his research and experience to consult with such global companies as IBM, INTEL, Nokia, Alcatel, Samsung, Pearson, McKinsey & Co., Dun & Bradstreet, and PwC. He also has extensive experience in teaching executive courses. Before joining Columbia, he was the deputy dean for executive development programs at INSEAD, after having served as faculty at Harvard Business School and the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Sarvary's early career began at IBM.

Sarvary is member of the editorial boards of Marketing Science, Quantitative Marketing and Economics, the International Journal of Research in Marketing, and the Journal of Interactive Marketing. His most recent book is Gurus and Oracles: The Marketing of Information (2012).