In the recent special double issue of Newsweek magazine (3/26/12 and 4/2/12) celebrating Mad Men and the 1960s golden age of advertising, Nick Summers analyzes the tremendous changes in advertising due to social media (“Click This Ad Already!” pp. 58–64).  Summers affirms:

It’s not that online advertising has eclipsed TV, as some industry pundits have predicted, but it has become its full partner—and in many ways the more substantive one, a medium in which the audience must be earned, not simply bought. (p. 59)

I agree with Summers.  All these platforms have their unique dynamics, advantages, and disadvantages.  In the early days of the Internet, many people anticipated traditional TV advertising would lose its luster.  Today’s reality strongly demonstrates these media are complementary partners rather than competing rivals.

The significant distinction of course is the Internet means, “the audience must be earned, not simply bought.”  TV advertising by default and by definition communicates to viewers the awareness they are being bought.  Social media on the other hand transforms viewers into participants and they become partners in the process.  Rather than being passive, captive recipients, they become negotiators, and with that comes power.

I like the way Jan Jacobs and Leo Premutico sublimely express it.  “The consumer is the medium” (

Consequently, any company today not devoting resources and staff to maintaining an online presence, especially via social media, will continuously find itself behind its competitors.  To win at the boxing match, you have to climb into the ring.

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About James Meadows

Currently I serve as a training team manager for Tyco Integrated Security at a customer-care center in Kansas City. Additionally, I am a business consultant, a freelance corporate writer, an Assembly of God ordained minister, a Civil Air Patrol chaplain, and a blogger. I believe we are living in the most fascinating times of human history. To maximize the opportunities these times present, I have a passionate interest in leadership development and organizational success, both of which I view as inextricably linked.

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