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Digital vs traditional media: The case of the missing versus

In advertising circles, the growing power of digital media vs. the staying strength of traditional media has been an ongoing debate. The believers in digital use the rapid growth of devices, clicks, likes and impressions as evidence while the skeptics use the low marketing spends on digital as a means of debunking the theory.

The truth is that this so called ‘versus’ is nothing but a navel gazing exercise that the advertising industry indulges in. Now, more than ever, there is no ‘versus’.

We do not consume a digital medium; we live in a digital world.

1. Social to stay sociable – We use Facebook and other social sites to seek and give attention; Whatsapp, Line and SMS to stay in constant touch.

2. Mobiles for mobility – To check train and flight timings; call a cab on Ola, Uber; and Google Maps to navigate when our driver loses his way.

3. Screens for screening – Mobile and iPad screens keep getting bigger and rivaling the resolution sizes of high-end televisions because we watch more content on these than on a regular TV screen.

4. Digital ecosystems for entertainment – Our content streams to our screens through fibre networks that also deliver high-speed connectivity right into our homes. For evidence, look at Reliance Jio.

5. Remote access for roaming – Remote monitoring of homes, cars and even your child from the next room can be enabled by digital security systems and devices.

6. Wearables to wear health– We wear wearables to keep an eye on our health statistics. It has made the bastion of a health specialist a part of mainstream conversation– monitoring blood pressure, heart rate, sleep cycles. Moreover, it is a physical badge of a person’s healthy ways.

The points above prove that digital is not a medium; it is the predominant way of life for the people we serve. Their behaviour is driven by the digitised world we live in.

Hence, the idea of whether digital media is growing vs. traditional, isn’t even a question to begin with. The truth is traditional media growth is already dependent on what we called erstwhile digital.

The challenge for traditional media to blend into this digital driven world is ‘interruption avoidance’.

Unlike the earlier era where advertising found its niche between content, today it needs to find its relevance between conversations, searches, health monitoring and private content consumption – or has to become the content itself.

To be able to find a place for an entertaining marketing message in the midst of this ‘digitally enabled’ life will decide the shape traditional media will take.

It is time for traditional to stop being; well, traditional!

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