An on-going blog to create debate and perhaps raise some awkward questions on the seven subjects discussed in Jon Steel’s video.
Topic 7. “Is digital just another set of media for connecting with your audience?”
About 50 years ago, ad guru Marshall McLuhan famously declared, “The medium is the message”.
Frankly, I think that’s bull if you take it at face value. Worse, it might encourage ad folks to think medium first and message second. (And recent experience has demonstrated that there are some digital creatives who think that way instead of starting with the needs of the brand and the message it wants to communicate.)
What I think McLuhan was trying to say is:
“The medium influences the message.”
Because different media work differently and carry different levels of authority. The phrase “As seen on TV” is leveraged in print ads for a reason. And in the digital realm there’s evidence that says many people using search engines will only consider SEO results and avoid SEM ads on the basis (notwithstanding that SEM ads carry less information) that they have less authority – they are buying rather than earning their search exposure.
So back to the question: Is digital just another set of media for connecting with your audience?
In one sense, the answer has to be yes, given the paramount importance of the needs of the brand and the message it wants to communicate.
But in another sense I think Jon is wrong in suggesting that the advances of digital technology hasn’t changed the way we think about connecting with audiences.
Consider how the traditional purchase funnel (first proposed back in 1898 according to Wikipedia) has had to be adapted in the digital age. (Check out McKinsey’s more iterative Consumer Decision Journey for more information.)
And consider how the analysis of consumer digital behaviors has made a substantial impact on how we reach consumers today – in that it should build on, not replace, the understanding of consumers’ non-digital behaviors, needs, motivations and values.
Does this all make sense? Or do you think Marshall McLuhan was right all along?