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.