What Does It Mean to be Digital?

futurelab default header

by: David Polinchock

This is a work in progress, so I'll try to add to it over the next couple of days, but I thought that I'd get my rough thoughts out here and see what conversation it started.

These days, you can't pick up a trade publication without reading several articles about the need for the advertising industry to go digital. A headline from ClickZ earlier this week tells us that Carat Integrates to give digital Its due. We need to integrate traditional advertising with digital. This agency is going digital. Clients want more digital efforts from their agencies.

But what the heck does that mean today? Digital used to mean interactive, but that doesn't seem to be the case any more. So what defines traditional marketing vs. digital marketing? I mean, lots of people have digital cable, so wouldn't that make commercials playing on digital TV digital? And is Youtube really digital in the interactive sense? Sure it's fun and all, but it certainly isn't interactive, unless you count the fact that you can comment on something. But heck, we could always comment on things, so that's not really new.

Is it digital to take your existing content and put it on the web? Especially if you don't really do anything different with it? Does the method of transmitting make something digital? When companies take content and play it on in-store networks, what's digital about that? I can't interact with it and generally have no control over it in any way, so what makes it digital?

I write a blog every week, but what about it makes it digital? If it's because people can comment, what happens if they don't? Does that specific post become analogue? Or is digital because it gets delivered via the internet? If that's the case, does putting an episode of a TV online suddenly make that show digital?

So what is it about digital that gets everyone in this industry so excited? Especially when you see so many executions that don't seem to be all that new. I think part of it is that this industry loves buzzwords and this is this year's catch phrase.

Except that agencies are putting a lot of time and effort against going digital without defining it first. And clients, bless their little hearts, are demanding that their agencies are digital, again without really knowing what they're asking for!

And so, we all run around trying to be digital and all of us have different definitions based on what we do. So, I'm asking the question — what does it mean to be digital?

Original Post: http://blog.brandexperiencelab.org/experience_manifesto/2007/08/what-does-it-me.html