The Urge to Converge

Is convergence dead or just in a state of confusion? This special report section examines the proliferation of new cross-media hybrids—and buying opportunities.
Why all the brains and X-rays in this month’s issue? Try thinking hard about convergence for three weeks straight, and your head might need to be examined, too. It’s mind-boggling, this convergence on the brain. What is convergence? What does it mean? For one thing, it ain’t what it used to be—a promised synthesis of television and the Internet, a tidy integration of traditional media and the web that would deliver interactivity to the consumer and laser-like targeting to marketers. That was the hype. Instead, we got divergence: multiplicity, disorientation, dizziness, or maybe just pressure behind the eyes. Starting to get the pictures?

Maybe the brain is the right symbol for the subject, after all—the ultimate point of convergence for all senses and stimuli. Thus, the thinking behind our choice of dueling cover models, Mr. Tingly and Bob (email us if you have trouble identifying which is which). In attempting to explode the term convergence—or at least redefine it—we also needed to focus on what the latest technological developments actually mean for media buyers and planners. That’s what we asked our reporters to find out, in each of the traditional-media categories covered on the following pages. At the end of the section, you’ll find a lively, head-to-head debate on this topic one last time (promise). — Allan Hoving