“The medium is the message.”
When ol’ Marshall McLuhan wrote this over 30 years ago, he couldn’t have imagined how the web would revolutionize the way the world communicates. As web marketers and content providers, we blaze new trails every day, seeking the right path for the right message and the right way to deliver that message to our target audiences. We live and work in a constantly changing world where yesterday’s rules become tomorrow’s tactics to avoid. It’s a world where we’re not required to master one medium, but all media.
We communicate in new ways on a platform (the web) that functions as a meta-media, a place where nearly all media converge and interact. And anyone in the business who’s getting enough sleep at night probably isn’t thinking about it hard enough.
Because the web provides a place to use many different types of communication all in one space, it has brought about a major change over the past five years – the fact that technology plays a much larger role. The web affects not only how we communicate, but what we can communicate to the audiences we’re trying to reach.
Web communicators aren’t bound by the physical limitations of print, the linearity of television, or the single audio dimension of radio. Now we have to speak, act, persuade, communicate, cajole, entice, entertain, amuse, and inform by combining aspects of print, radio, television, theater, and two-way interactivity in new ways using new methods that weren’t even dreamed of by most folks as recently as five years ago. And how we do so is defined by the tools we have on hand.
Sadly, a lot of web marketers who have made the switch from the more “traditional” forms of communication seem to think they don’t need to know these new technologies and techniques in order to do their jobs. “Oh, we just leave that techie stuff to the Webmaster,” or “I think there’s a guy in the IT department you should talk to about that technical stuff,” are phrases I hear disturbingly often. If you’re somebody who thinks that way, I’ve just got one thing to say: Wake up!
That’s what this column is all about.
In the coming months, my Leading Edge column will bring you the lowdown on the latest in web and Internet technology. We’ll explore the brave new world of rich media, the latest two-way communications techniques (including hot new web and email technologies), and the ways in which convergence and broadband technologies are going to change everything in the new millennium.
We’ll delve into new technologies for measuring the success of your ad campaigns, new ways of increasing ROI, advances in collaborative web-surfing technologies, and the latest developments in sales-expanding e-commerce software. You’ll read it here first – the tools and techniques that’ll give you the jump on what’s ahead on the web and how best to use it to communicate with the audiences you need to reach.
Most of all, this column is going to be a practical, non-techie introduction to what’s hot in the world of communications tools and technologies from a marketing communications perspective. We’ll examine technology not for its own sake, but as a means to an end, looking at not only what it does and how it works, but how you can apply it to your business and to meet your clients’ needs.
Now more than ever, the medium defines the messages we can communicate. Today, only by staying at the forefront of the technologies that define the medium can we continue to communicate effectively.
Welcome to the Leading Edge.