Old Term: New Media

It’s 2012.

Facebook and Twitter are both about six years old. LinkedIn is almost 10 years old. Digital media have been with us for almost 25 years and  a part of our daily lives for a good chunk of the last 15 years. Mobile phones have been dominated by smart phones and mobile tablet technology for the last 5 years. Even broadcast TV is now exclusively digital in almost 90% of the US.

So it seems increasingly odd to hear the term “new media” still being assigned to the above-mentioned digital, mobile and social media entities. Think about how many touch points of the internet you come into contact with on a daily basis. How many of them are truly new experiences? How many of them are daily occurrences? When is the last time you went anywhere without making sure you had your iPhone or Droid securely in hand so you could stay connected? How often do you DVR a TV show instead of making time to watch when it airs? And instead of conducting research, we’ve been Googling our way to information since 1999.

“New Media” is an old term in search of a new subject. It simply doesn’t apply to digital, mobile or social media anymore. To continue this misnomer is to confuse things. In the early 1400’s, Gutenberg’s moveable type technology started a new media revolution. Marconi invented wireless technology and gave birth to a new medium called radio in the late 1800s. Telephones and TV were new media for a while too.

For the past few years it’s been quite accurate to compare digital marketing to TV commercials in the early 1960s. New strategies for reaching people are being invented everyday, and five years from now many of these breakthrough techniques will likely be standard practice, or seem outdated and less effective.

So the next time you are in a meeting and someone says something like “we need a new media idea”, ask them if they are referring to a medium that hasn’t been invented yet, or if they really mean they need a new idea to breakthrough the clutter and effectively reach their target audience. New media become just regular ol’ media in time, but a revolutionary new idea becomes timeless no matter what medium it’s executed in.