In 1967, Mashall McLuhan published The Medium Is the Massage, his prophetic treatise on the coming era of electronic media and its effect on humans and humanity. The original title was supposed to be The Medium is the Message but for a typo by the publisher. When McLuhan saw the proof, he liked it so much he told them to keep the mistake in.
“All media work us over completely,” he said, playing on the massage metaphor.
In The Medium Is the Massage, McLuhen states, in so many words, that the method of delivery of an idea, if disruptive enough, is at least as important as the idea itself. Television, just then gaining prominence, was so revolutionary that anything delivered on it was groundbreaking. He likens it to the effect radio had before TV, and print long before that. He even draws parallels to how spoken language paved the way for human innovation.
McLuhen’s ideas seem especially prescient since the dawn of digital and social media, when the notion of becoming one’s own publisher (or in some cases, one’s own channel or network) has turned the worlds of content and marketing upside down.
However, with today’s media becoming so niche and diversified, even in what would traditionally be thought of as broad categories, ideas and the ability to navigate them need to rise once again to the forefront.
In a recent article, AdAge discusses how creative agencies are taking the lead on media strategy, largely due to their abilities to navigate the subtleties of who to communicate an idea to and when, in order to make the largest impact.
While media agencies may have the buying power and the analytics, they often lack the ability to subjectively devise a strategy that will reach and impact the correct audiences. In the media world of spreadsheets and programmatic buys, more budget equals more impact, so those with less should generally expect less.
The key to a media strategy that works well on paper and in real life is creative thinking—strategizing ways to get the idea out there in a different way, or reaching the right people with the right message and less waste. Of course, creative agencies are still using analytics to inform their strategies, but they’re also using intuition and understanding of human nature to confirm what the numbers say.
For clients looking to get more bang for the media-buying buck, relying on your creative agency to also formulate your media strategy is a powerful move. Even better, your creative agency likely has media-buying capabilities (we do), enabling fully integrated processes and accountability.
When the media landscape is wide open, “the medium is the idea” turns into “the idea drives the media.” So, as the memes say, “Get you one that do both.”