Saturday, August 31, 2013

Why Do We Still Have Mass Media?: What Today's Students Can Tell Us About Digital Marketing

Why Do We Still Have Mass Media?

Today's students (at least here at Aurora University) are already sharp and savvy marketers.  Many students in the first week of IMC classes here made the comment, "Why do we still have mass Media?" They didn't understand the reason for mass communication when digital communication has made it possible to interact on an individual level with customers through a wide variety of digital media.

Certainly the students have a point.  While allocation for digital marketing efforts has reached 25% of every ad dollar, consumers are moving more and more to digital media for their purchase decisions.  With 93% of consumers starting their purchase on search engines, the trend toward mobile purchasing and 'showrooming,' it seems that digital media offer opportunities that are more efficient, effective and have a greater chance of reaching the consumer directly.  So why aren't marketers moving more quickly to adopt digital marketing?

One Possible Answer to the Question

Don Schultz, Emeritis Professor at Northwestern's Medill School answers that question in this brief video.  Don suggests that old habits die hard and that marketers do things the way they have always done them.  I recommend watching this brief video and I am interested in your thoughts.  Do you think things will change as we educate the new generation of marketers in new forms of media.  Feel free to comment on this blog, email me at my new email or communicate on any of the many forms of social media in which I participate.

It looks like a great beginning to the semester with such insightful questions.  You don't have to convince mean that digital means direct being able to measure our results in a more meaningful way than mass advertising, a.k.a, delayed response.

By the way, welcome to my new Digital Marketing and Analytics Blog.  I opened it in honor of the new Digital Marketing Minor at +Aurora University which will be effective in the 2014-2015 course catalog.

By Debra Zahay-Blatz.
You can find Debra on  and Twitter as well as LinkedIn.


  1. It is a good question. I'd ask another; can there be digital mass media?
    As always, I agree with Don Schultz about building customer relationships and media fragmentation. Also about the inability of many marketing organizations to deal effectively with the new environment.
    That said, I think there is still a clear role for mass media. You cannot build relationships with customers until you have acquired them--at least engaged their interest. So looking for new customers where they live--be it traditional or digital media--is still a necessary marketing skill. And the increasingly fragmented mass media still plays an important role in acquisition.

  2. I always think social media is kind of mass/direct. For building awareness, yes, mass media helps. Second most recognized phrase on the planet, "Coca Cola."

  3. So many thoughts reading this, and watching the video. I'm a direct response marketer. I've worked on such campaigns as Pillow Pets. We took an idea and turned a small company into the 4th largest toy company in a matter of 18 months. How? Mass media! Sorry, but for me, mass media is still the king. Sure, audiences are fragmented and becoming more and more so all of the time. I am sure many folks reading this think I'm old school or out of touch. But, how many people above the age of 35 blog or use social media to learn about products? I would ask the same for younger folks. I mean, today, I think the social media arm is more of a customer service tool - one that must be managed. But, other than some exceptions to the rule, I don't think it is a customer acquisition tool. I think ads online don't have much effect. Has anyone reading this ever clicked on an ad, let alone clicked over and purchased something? - Ken Osborn

    1. I think it all works together. As branding becomes more important, mass media becomes elevated in importance and the lines between direct and mass have blurred...see next blog post!

  4. I'll be interested to see what happens with Netflix and other streaming services, if they pull enough traffic away from television eventually to the point where they offer a free version, driven by ads, and come full circle. It wouldn't surprise me if Comcast eventually synthesizes mass media and digital marketing through offering targeted ads based on viewing habits.

    1. Lines between mass and digital are blurred also....thanks for the comments and giving me ideas for the next post!

  5. Great and simple post you shared. Social Media and Digital Marketing has such a mythology about it, but it really is just making a common sense! Thanks for pointing that in your post.

    Digital Brief marketing course