Electricity Poised To Be Biggest Ad Medium In 2016

Yes, it’s true. Electricity is poised to be the biggest ad medium in 2016 -- more than TV, Internet, radio and digital place-based media combined. Amazingly, this trend seems to have come out of nowhere.

Of course this is a ridiculous headline, and calling electricity an ad medium is a silly way to compare various media to each other. Electricity powers TV, the Internet, radio, and digital-place-based media, as well as email, telemarketing and an assortment of other electronically based commercial communication channels. It powers all Internet-powered media, and a fair amount of media not delivered or enabled by the Internet. But not many people would consider it a medium.

Neither is the Internet an ad medium. The best definition of advertising media that I’ve heard in this context is: “media is the business of provisioning consumer contact.”

Why, then, do we continue to count all of the many different Internet-powered or -enabled communication channels as a single defined media channel, and make comparisons as such? For example, earlier this week, data on projected “Internet ad spending” claimed to be ready to surpass the next closest “ad medium."



The Internet is not a holistic ad medium. Online search has nothing to do with digital video. It’s ridiculous to count them as if they were one. It would be like counting TV Guide print advertising together with TV advertising. They do not share a medium.

It's wonderful that the Internet now powers so many powerful and important online, digital and Web service commercial communication channels, from email marketing to search advertising to online display to digital video to video-on-demand. Aggregating them together for market share comparisons made sense in the 1990s when these channels were all tiny and virtually meaningless individually, but those days are long past. These channels share the Internet for plumbing, just as they share electricity for plumbing, but they are separate and distinct as media.

I know it’s easy to lump all channels that share the Internet together as one, but I think that we should stop it. It creates perceptions and drives actions that may not be well-informed. Email marketing is far more comparable to channels like direct mail and telemarketing and couponing. Putting it together with digital video advertising in a comparison with TV advertising is not just wrong, but misleading. Doing so can only lead to misinformed perceptions and bad decisions. Let’s try to be more honest with ourselves. It can only make us better businesspeople.

7 comments about "Electricity Poised To Be Biggest Ad Medium In 2016".
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  1. Chris Pizzurro from Canoe, July 24, 2015 at 7:25 a.m.


  2. Jaffer Ali from PulseTV, July 24, 2015 at 7:34 a.m.

    Excellent post Dave...and a welcomed respite from the silliness of Big Data.

  3. Joel Melby from clypd, July 24, 2015 at 10:09 a.m.

    But then how would all the digiterati make headlines proclaiming the death of TV? Thanks, Dave, for some common sense...

  4. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, July 24, 2015 at 10:50 a.m.

    I agree ----good post, Dave.

  5. Kathy Newberger from TBD, July 24, 2015 at 12:46 p.m.

    I loved this article even before I realized that Dave wrote it!

  6. John Grono from GAP Research, July 24, 2015 at 8:50 p.m.

    Bravo Dave.

    Or as Shakespeare may have put it ...

    TV or not TV, that is the question:
    Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
    The Slings and Arrows of outraged digerati,
    Or to take Arms against a Sea of fanboys,
    And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
    No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
    The Heart-ache, and the thousand indignant posts
    That Flash is heir to?

  7. Lubin Bisson from Qzedia Media Inc, July 30, 2015 at 10:52 a.m.

    Bravo...John, too.  (TV or not TV...)

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