Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
April 21, 2011 9:15 PM

What Do You Call This Thing?

I'm at a loss for words.

Years ago, my business partners and I at Twist Image decided to define the work we do as "Digital Marketing." The thought was, so long as a brand is leveraging technology to either develop or deploy their marketing (or both), this would be our blank canvass... our playground... the space we played in. Our contemporaries would call their work, "eMarketing," "online advertising" or "interactive marketing" (and I'm sure there are other iterations). All of those felt fairly limiting to me (they still do). While some of those descriptors still work, "digital marketing" still feels right in my bones (and, what works for us, may not work for you... I'm fine with that, and you should be too).

But, things are changing.

In my Blog posts, I'll often turn a phrase like, "what's happening online is [fill in the blanks]." Lately, anytime I'm about to type out that kind of sentence, I freeze. Online? Social Media? The Web? Let's face it, that's only one-third of the equation at this point. We have the Web, we have mobile and we now have touch (think iPad), and while these platforms are all digital, all online (in one way, shape or form), they are very different. So, if a brand is "online" and doing great things with "Social Media" they could very well have zero mobile presence and nothing useful happening on tablets.

Online does not equal "The Web."

I don't think the Web is dead (as Wired Magazine wrote in their cover story: The Web Is Dead. Long Live The Internet), but it's changing at a rapid pace (much faster than most people recognize). The Web as we know it is becoming less important as more and more people turn to mobile, tablets and apps. It's going to force the core technology to change and it's already impacting everything from usability and user experience to how brands can best connect.

We don't need another word this.

"Digital Marketing" still works fine, but the concept of "going online" is beginning to show its age. That - in and of itself - is an interesting concept to ponder. Who goes online anymore? We're connected: our mobiles are connected, decent wireless connectivity is becoming more and more pervasive, 3G and 4G networks continue to expand and we're at the point where fast connectivity everywhere is just around the corner (you can practically taste it). The bigger thought is around convergence. Will these digital platforms - Web, mobile and touch - converge to the point where a screen is a screen is a screen? Will this quickly cause TV and paper to become just another screen as well? Does it all just become one screen? Something non-physical? Will it all just be content and connectivity that can be projected on to anything or anyone, anywhere? While my feet are comfortably planted in being a Presentist, I still can't help but imagine what Digital Marketing will look like in the not-to-distant future, what my role will be and what brands will be doing. On top of that, what will traditional Marketing look and feel like in these platforms?

Trying to name the future is difficult. Imagining it is a lot of fun.

By Mitch Joel