How Do We Categorize Our Industry?

What is your definition of "interactive" or "online" marketing? It seems the range of ideas and opportunities covered under these terms are continuing to evolve very quickly and it's a topic worth chatting about.

In the old days we could isolate interactive or online marketing to something that involved a computer or the Internet. Nowadays those parameters have shifted and the boundaries of a computer have been shattered. The Internet goes much further than a PC and keyboard. Every device you can imagine is becoming Internet enabled: game consoles, my refrigerator, my car, and your watch. Anything can have access to the Internet, so what's the definition that applies to them all?

Many people focus on the word "digital" as a means of defining the category, but even this can be a problem. In some way or another, ALL media is becoming digital. The integration of digital allows for accountability. Using digital elements allows print advertisers to confirm circulation and performance via URLs and other means. Television is becoming more digital as a result of video on demand and TiVo. Radio is digital with satellite services such as XM and Sirius. If every form of media has a digital element, how can we differentiate them?



Some people are taking a broader view and saying there are two primary types of marketing. "1-to-1" and "1-to-many." The "1-to-1" efforts are a combination of what was referred to as online and what was considered direct marketing, and fusing the two of them together to include accountable metrics across all forms of media.

The "1-to-many" refers to the more traditional views of mass media such as traditional broadcast. Of course, for as many arguments as there are in favor of both of these, there are arguments against them. The "1-to-1 isn't scalable," some would say. The "1-to-many is gone as mass media vehicles deteriorate," say others. It's hard to argue for or against either of these statements since there's truth in both of them.

Clutter is killing ad effectiveness. Attention spans decrease, effectiveness drops, and we add more clutter in an attempt to find something new that works without ever removing the old methods. The new methods that are developed are done so in a way that makes them trackable, primarily through digital means.

I don't know that I can offer a title for what we all do everyday, but what's most exciting about this debate is that all of the forecasts and all of the bold statements that we've been making for the last 10 years are coming to fruition now.

The next two years in the advertising industry are going to be the most exciting and the most revolutionary, possibly in history. The advent of television and the advent of the Internet were extremely important, but the roles of these, and every other form of media, are going to change substantially in the next two years.

The analogy I make is that while the invention of flight was important, the major changes in flight didn't occur until the typical consumer became able to fly across the country for an affordable cost. The adoption and practicality of commercial airlines' entrance into everyday life was more monumental than the invention of it in the first place.

So I still pose the question: What do we call the industry in the coming years? What do you think is the right way to categorize the industry as it enters into 2005 and beyond?

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