Digital Media: All fingers and thumbs?
With ‘connected’ digital content the key mover and shaper behind today’s media tactics and strategies, it’s ironic that it should remain broadly disconnected from the ‘mainstream’ media mix in many cases…
Media. Fings just ain’t what they used to be, are they?
In fact, when you think about it, the very meaning of the word is pretty much going through wholesale change right now.
OK, so not everyone takes quite the nerdy interest in word derivations that I do (they couldn’t, frankly). But those of a vaguely etymological bent might know that media comes from the Latin medius, meaning middle. And that the word makes almost perfect sense in that context.
In many ways, media – even The Media – really is exactly that: the middle. People, places, businesses, money, ideas: it genuinely does sit slap bang in the centre of just about everything.
But – and here’s the thing – I’m not actually sure it does any more, does it? These days, thanks largely to the omnipresence of its newer varieties like digital, media is less ‘between’ than ‘through’. In front, behind, up above, down below, all around. Wherever we are. Whatever we’re doing. All the time.
That’s great news for businesses, so they tell us. An entirely new realm (medium?) via which marketing, messaging, and merchandising can be disseminated and leveraged; a whole new range of linked and integrated customer communication channels and potential revenue streams.
Which brings me to my second ‘but’. Because I’ve been wondering. With so much change afoot, are new and traditional media activities truly linked and integrated? Properly? As much as they might be? Or need to be? And chatting with a friend who runs the marcomms function for a major software vendor the other day, the answer in many cases still appears to be no.
This friend of mine (we’ll call him Dave as that’s his name) tells me that his comms strategies are increasingly shaped and driven by digital media and content – no great shock there, whose aren’t?
That being the case, in common with many of his peers, Dave retains separate specialist new and digital agencies in addition to his usual internal and external comms suppliers. Fair enough. They’re specialist disciplines.
In dialogue with those peers however, he keeps hearing a similar complaint – that there is an often significant gap between digital and ‘traditional’ campaign activities – and their results.
In other words, for something that is by its very nature ‘connected’, digital media doesn’t appear to be connecting with its ‘conventional’ counterparts as well as it should – the two often still running as more or less separate communications entities rather than a single integrated whole.
Why? Many reasons in all likelihood. But at a fundamental level the problem might very well be that new media continues to be regarded as just that – new.
Nothing new stays that way forever. However cutting edge, however fast moving, how revolutionary, sooner or later it always dovetails into the mainstream.
To become fully connected and engaged with the rest of the marketing and communications mix – and with the business itself – new media has to do the same.