The Medium and the Message Are Connected

The Medium and the Message Are Connected

Buying media is not quantum physics. You have your message, your demographic, and your medium. As long as you can match them up efficiently, voila, your message is heard and your work is done.

Hypothetical example: your furniture client is having a huge two-day sale on futons. The target audience is women 25 to 54. We know they are most likely listening to WMEE-FM and WQHK-FM and watching the six p.m. local news and Wheel of Fortune. That’s what our trusted sources at Arbitron and Nielsen tell us. They’re driving by the same billboard every day on their commute into work. They’re checking Facebook throughout the day. If we’re lucky, they’re googling “futon sales” to find the best deal in town. In a perfect world with unlimited budgets, we can buy all media that this demo consumes and achieve a reach of 100% with a frequency that is sure to bring them into your client’s store. But it’s not a perfect world. With a limited budget, our job becomes more complex. Not as complex as quantum physics, more like rocket science.

As a McLuhanite, I strongly believe that the medium and the message are intrinsically connected. With the growth of the digital sphere, it’s tempting to put all your eggs, your media dollars, into the digital basket. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and the millions of impressions you’re buying are guaranteed. The algorithm can be trusted. You can even convert industry standard GRPs into digital impressions with this handy tool, which fills the media buyer in me with justification and nerd joy.

With our furniture client, a digital buy would be inexpensive but it would not garner the wide reach of a strong television buy. The message, served via a 30 second television spot, would be more effective than a million impressions on Television allows you to tell a bigger story and better showcase the advertiser. In spite of the advent of digital video, live TV still remains the dominant medium.


While I do believe digital is a strong force in advertising the right message to the right audience, it’s often not enough to stand on its own. It’s perfect when targeting a very narrow or hard to reach audience and it’s a great complement to a multi-pronged media approach, but when you’re in a competitive category, promoting a limited time sale, television will allow your client to stand out amongst the clutter in a way that digital ads cannot.