The Oldest New Media
Did you know that many of the technological innovations that enable what we do today were all invented before 1930? Last week, I had the privilege of attending a New Media Roundtable hosted by Donovan Data Systems. Part of the program was a presentation by Karl A. Spangenberg, vice president-IP advertising for the new AT&T cross-platform offerings. Spangenberg shared some dates he found for the initial creation of some of the most important media platforms and enablers:
Sound in Movies--1926
Then, after the Depression era, computers were invented in about 1939 and fiber optics in 1977. Fast forward to the 1990s/2000s and consider new media like the Internet, blogging, social networking, VOD, PVR, instant messenger, Slingbox, iPods, Wikis, RSS, Virtual Communities, and on and on and on. The lifecycle for these phenomena from inception to relative maturity has been astonishing. It's like Moore's Law on steroids!
It's pretty obvious that the network effect is hard at work here. From my new favorite site, Wikipedia: "The network effect is a characteristic that causes a good or service to have a value to a potential customer dependent on the number of customers already owning that good or using that service."
It's almost like every one of us, every consumer and potential customer, is a node in this one enormous communications network. Every time we send an e-mail, share a video, or post a comment on a blog, we are fueling this massive shift in our society and changing how we live and work. The network just keeps growing and strengthens its ability to survive.
With this new pace of communications, how do agencies, marketers, and vendors keep up? As a 30-something who used to have to get up to actually change the channel on the television, my existence is constantly challenged to figure out how to integrate this stuff into my own life, let alone how I'm going to best leverage these as marketing channels for my clients. Today teenagers in college don't even take notes on paper--they just type directly into their laptops. Besides carpal tunnel syndrome at age 23, what else are they going to be looking forward to, and how can we get our messages to them?
Sitting in conference rooms and throwing around corporate buzz words like "emerging technologies," "new media" and "integrated communications" probably isn't going to get us very far. It doesn't seem to have worked yet. Maybe we should stop looking at our target audiences as crowds that we can influence--and instead try to reach them across this communications network by which we are all connected. And maybe the digital marketing industry should try to start some sort of network effect of our own. I think it's time to change our way of thinking pretty dramatically and start fighting fire with fire. Because I'm not sure we as marketers are going to be able to catch up otherwise.
Am I being too pessimistic? Am I off-base here? Please let me know what you think.