The Moment You've All Been Waiting For…

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When will Digital Media take over from television as the number one medium of choice by marketers?

According to the MediaPost news item, Digital Approaches Tipping Point, Narrows Ad Agency Gap To Just One, published today, we are on the cusp of this dramatic shift… right here, right now: "For the first time since being tracked, digital media – including online, social and mobile – has approached parity with television as the most important medium among agency executives, according to the latest quarterly survey from Strata, the media data processing provider that services roughly half of all U.S. ad agencies. Asked what their No. 1 medium of choice was during the third quarter of 2011, 34% of agency executives cited digital, only one point lower than the 35% who cited local TV. That’s the closest point of parity in the three years since Strata began querying its agency clients on the dominance of various media in their workflow and budgeting, and represents a 43% leap from the second quarter of 2011."

Remember: advertising flows along with consumer behavior.

While none of this news should come as a shock to anyone, it’s amazing to think about how nascent, decentralized and fragmented digital media still is. The article goes on to say: "There hasn’t been a huge disparity between digital and TV since Strata started the survey in 2008, but the margin has steadily decreased quarter over quarter… ‘in 2008, 60% of respondents indicated that TV was a top focus, with digital at 12%." Yes, some of the logic is that digital media is cheaper (including the fact that you can, usually, get much more impressions in many more places online than a traditional advertising spend) and that a lot of this sudden growth could be attributed to a tougher economy. This means that brands are actually reducing or holding steady with their advertising spends, so the digital media pie accounts for more, or dollars are shifted to digital to achieve a more "bang for your buck" strategy.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again.

Digital Media is a new media. The opportunity to push beyond advertising has to be panacea. Benchmarking the Internet against TV in terms of advertising should not be the goal. I’d prefer it if we were benchmarking the Internet (and yes, I’m fine including Social Media, mobile and touch in here) against electricity. As a new opportunity and new horizon for marketing opportunities, the ideal position would be that Digital Media becomes pervasive and ubiquitous like electricity.

That’s more exciting than being the number one medium of choice by marketers. That’s when marketing will get really interesting.


  1. Mitch I have to praise you here. First you got Joseph Jaffe on podcast to admit maybe it is not about the conversation. I started reading this and thought immediately this was going to be some Digital fluff piece. And no not due to my long time of reading you and listening to your podcast or the few emails I have exchanged (remember this old skool metalhead tried getting you into breakbeats lol) but because there are too many Fanboys and fangirls for their own segments of marketing/advertising. I am proudly banned from commenting at mashable because I pick about their BS all the time.
    But I should of known better. Thank you for seeing the big picture. Everything is entwined now and I hate looking at spend vs results or just some survey BS. We have to think bigger. I want to know Total Advertising Marketing Spend and Total Sales and measure how the marketing impacts the Sales.
    The big problem I see Mitch is the real goal for brands is spend less on marketing yet still grow sales. They know they overspend they just can’t figure out why. Of course the vendors in Advertising benefit from this. So why share any secrets? 8)

  2. Mitch what I’m waiting for is when we can no longer tell the difference from TV vs Digital as a media. Shazam is blurring the lines by creating spots that interact with their mobile app, as an example of the two media’s aligning.
    However even more interesting will be how TV evolves as in house shared community event with the family, and how it will bridge to digital engagements on tablet computers and mobile devices.
    I remember your story at SMX in Toronto this past year about how your kid tried to engage with the TV as a touch device. The next generation will not know anything but digital. As TV manufactures build in tirelessly connected features to feed in digital data, we will soon see unique content and information feed even through TV. For example if we started to data mine house holds for what is PVR’d or watched most often, why not create dynamic commercials that target sets of shows instead of the linear advertising today.
    How long before TV is simply another digital outlet?

  3. Excellent way to finish off the week Mitch. Much like howie, I thought “yeh, I guess its good that digital is neck and neck with TV, but is that what we’re really aiming for?”
    Then BAM…your final thought was perfect. Yes it’s a cool thing, but if that’s all we’re aiming for we’re really missing a much bigger, more important mark – the Internet (and all those other goodies), can be extremely powerful, far more than the advertising world of TV.
    Thanks for sharing

  4. And it will be even more exciting in a couple of years when Apple reveals the TV-sized iPad device. Remember the Seinfeld episode about “worlds colliding?”

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