Conversational Media. Micro Media. Citizen’s Media. Take Your Pick.

For me, there was an interesting develoment today. I noticed a new blog–Amy Gahran’s Right Conversation–thanks to Steve Rubel’s pointer.
Amy is a conversational media consultant, content strategist, and freelance writer/editor based in Boulder, CO. It was the “conversational media” part that jumped out at me. For this is a term I’ve been using since 2003. I’m not claiming I invented it. That’s not important. I’m just psyched to see it being used.
After I asked Amy where she might have picked up the term, she responded with an eloquent post that details her influences. I seriously doubt Amy had heard of me, or AdPulp, until today, but it was nice nonetheless to be grouped with the likes of Robert Scoble and Evelyn Rodriquez in her writeup.
Back in ’03, I’d say things like this and think it semi-intelligent:

Conversational Media is the new paradigm. The power has shifted to the audience. The result of this awesome shift is new rules for marketers to play by. Those who grasp those rules and play by them will win. Those who refuse to see these changes or minimize their impact will lose. Traditional ad agencies will most often lose. They will lose because they see themselves as creators of TV advertising, which by its very nature is a one-way channel. There’s no room (or very little room) for the customer in this time-tested, but tired equation.
What people want today is a voice. They want to be an active participant in a community. TV demands only the most passive involvement and does not offer one a voice, nor any sense of community, except possibly around the water cooler. Since markets are conversations, the task is to facilitate these conversations at every point of contact.

Now it seems trite. In this context, at least.
In the bloatosphere things move rapid fire. But time moves at another, more leisurely pace, in boardrooms and executive conference rooms across the land. In other words, TV is still a BIG BIG factor. TV’s death sentence has been prematurely pronounced, over and over again in this impatient medium. I’m not for TV, but I am for looking at things realistically, and TV advertising is here to stay.
But TV is no longer all important. And that’s a good thing.
Now, the idea is all important again. Advances in communications technology have given the customer more choices, and more control. In the process, the entire practice of “talking” with customers has been democratized and overhauled. Thus, the big idea, not the ad campaign, takes center stage because the big idea can live anywhere, and the more off-the-beaten path its home, the better.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.