Marketing Is About Extensions Not Adaptations

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When does Digital Marketing get interesting?

There are two worlds when it comes to Digital Marketing:

  1. World #1 = Adaptation. This is when the client already has a brand campaign that is headed to market and is looking for a digital component that falls in with every other piece of media. They are, in essence, looking for their brand campaign to be adapted to the digital channels.
  2. World #2 = Extension. Some will call this "transmedia" but I tend to think of this as how the online channels can help extend and tell the brand story in a way that fits the media, instead of trying to make the media bend to the will of an existing advertising campaign. This is an original execution that, ultimately, fits in to a more cohesive brand narrative.

The true challenge? 

Unfortunately, too many people in our industry confuse the words "advertising" with "marketing". It’s (somewhat) tragic when a great brand gets trapped in an advertising campaign and feels that the only way to make it work in the digital channels is to simply adapt it for the Web. Extensions are just so much more interesting. Think about it this way: you can adapt your 30-second spot for a banner ad or you can re-imagine your 30-second spot by taking the essence and thinking about what you can do with online video (don’t you find it tragic when a brand’s only online video content is their 30-second spots randomly posted to YouTube?).

It’s Thanksgiving. Let’s be thankful.

Instead of trying to cram an advertising campaign into something digital (or worse, something "social"), let’s be thankful. Don’t think of the Internet (or mobile or touch) as a media channel. Think of it as a publishing platform. You can put whatever you want into it (text, images, audio, video) and you can tell stories (short-form or long-form). You can connect, collaborate, share and deep dive. Marketing is challenged by Digital Marketing. For the most part, Marketers are (still) being dragged into it, kicking and screaming. It is (still) very foreign to them – especially those who have been running at the campaign level.

If it’s just a place to put a message…

We’re not only missing the point, but we’re not thinking about the future (the short-term future). We’re not only missing the point, but we’re not thinking about how we move marketing away from a (mostly) broadcasting mindset. We’re not only missing the point, but we’re not thinking about our consumers (how they’re connected, what they’re looking for and how to be a part of it). We’re not only missing the point, but we’re missing a huge, new and exciting opportunity.

Think extensions. Ask for permission to kill the adaptations… and just be thankful that we have the choices and options.


  1. I think you need both, honestly.
    While I agree that the Extension is the more creative route and often more interesting, the adaptation serves to open up the online environment to smaller businesses who might not otherwise have a budget for web-specific marketing (adapt the 30 second spot to a banner ad for smaller budget.) Hopefully this will create an atmosphere where the company will later be willing to budget for marketing extensions, but who knows.

  2. I totally agree with you Mitch!! It’s all about storytelling. Use the publishing platforms of digital and social media to tell different brand stories that are aligned with the key message of the marketing campaign. A brand has many characteristics that make it unique… Explore, reveal and tell the story from another angle
    A variation of the same theme
    I say we don’t need to think outside the box because there is no box.

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