Friday, August 31, 2012

Digital Media Convergence: Revolutionizing Advertising

Creative without strategy is called 'art.' Creative with strategy is called 'advertising.'
- Jeff I. Richards

Revolutionizing how we view and respond to advertising efforts, digital media convergence has created a platform where advertisers can adapt and react to the flexibility and unpredictability of online consumers. This essay will explore new media advertising largely focusing on online, as Spurgeon (2008) suggests, the internet has become the most important development for advertising. The significant impact of digital media convergence for the advertising industry is particularly evident in its new forms, strategies and future prospects. As Dwyer (2010) argues, the new media reality is a multimedia one, which has had a substantial impact on the practice of advertising and its transfer into a predominantly online space.

Revolutionizing the forms of advertising, digital media convergence has joint the efforts of old and new media by instigating a flow of content across multiple media platforms (Jenkins 2006). This has allowed advertisers to interact with consumers in more complex ways (Jenkins 2006) by customizing and creatively presenting information for consumers (Bezjian-Avery 1998). Advertisers now have the ability to manipulate media to suit their requirements, utilizing the benefits of new media such as online spaces as opposed to being limited to traditional media such as newspapers, TV and radio. This rapid migration of advertising from print to online media has largely been driven by the impact of digital media convergence on consumer lifestyle (Spurgeon 2008). New forms of advertising through online spaces largely centred on Web 2.0 include social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, as well as internet features including display, search and classified advertising. As Spurgeon (2008) states, this has provided new sources of opportunity for developing new revenue streams, particularly through multimedia. Advertising agencies have been given a platform to interact with their consumers and the consumers with the brand in a revolutionary way. Increased audience engagement has been closely linked with the convergence culture of the 21st century. As Sheehan and Morrison (2009) argue, advertisers who continue to operate within a closed structure “limit their ability to create messages that best connect with consumers and build their brands.” Innovative forms of advertising highlighting the influence of new media include branded content and the Madison and Vine trend. These reflect growth in new online, media and entertainment forms and will be evaluated as strategies in the following section. 

The phenomenon of digital media convergence has had a significant effect on the strategies used by advertisers and their effect on consumers. YouTube has become a testing ground for advertising content where advertisers can use the site as a cheap alternative to testing viewer reaction, prior to more expensive publications. Furthermore, the new media strategies of branded content, Madison and Vine and product placement have all been highly effective in ‘cutting through the clutter’ and breaking the resistance of consumers. Digital media convergence joint with new media has offered advertisers clever, creative and personalized techniques to reach the consumer. Madison and Vine advertising has used half art, half commerce to creatively embed messages and brand image in media flows and experiences that consumers would search for and engage with (Spurgeon 2008). BMW recently employed this innovative, multimedia marketing strategy in an advertising campaign which used short films to promote BMW vehicles, reflecting a convergence of the advertising and film industry. 

Through this, advertisers have been able to engage with consumers in refreshing ways by blurring the division between commerce and art (Spurgeon 2008). This form of digital media convergence advertising has been controversial as advertising agencies produce advertorial information on one end and full blown content production at the other (Spurgeon 2008). Another example of a clever advertising strategy utilizing the benefits of new media and digital media convergence is branded entertainment. Advertisers have begun to use podcasts, games and live events as media for brand promotion, creating mutually beneficial alliances with entertainment companies. An example of this is the virtual community Habbo Hotel, which promoted the hip-hop band Gorillaz by allowing them to undertake virtual concerts online. As Spurgeon (2008) argues, "this form of multimedia advertising demonstrates the creative potential of proliferating channels, network devices and increasingly profuse bandwidth to engage the consumers of most value to advertisers."

Conclusively, these examples highlight the implications and future prospects digital media convergence has had on the advertising industry through new media. The convergence culture and new media of the 21st century has revolutionized how advertisers engage and interact with their consumers, through a more efficient, far reaching and creative manner. As Spurgeon (2008) claims, both national and local advertisers were dissatisfied with the uncertain performance of old media, and have now been given dynamic and efficient ways of reaching “increasingly distracted and disinterested consumers.” This more effective form of advertising has resulted in a win-win-win situation where the advertiser is able to connect with their target market, the user fulfills their search and the service provider achieves the revenue that is associated (Spurgeon 2008). New media advertising has increased advertiser confidence, particularly in internet advertising, and has economically benefited areas such as news, entertainment and sporting pages that previously struggled to sell to advertisers (Spurgeon 2008). This new practice of advertising has although resulted in considerable challenges for advertisers, as agencies increasingly compete to reach consumers whose ability to remove and limit advertising feed increases. A lack of brand image attached with online advertising and credibility among consumers has also augmented, as consumers increasingly rely on word of mouth and peer reviews for goods and services (Sheehan and Morrison 2009)(Bezjian-Avery 1998). Nonetheless, digital media convergence in the wider scope has had a significantly beneficial impact on new media advertising, predominantly in engaging and reaching larger yet more dispersed target markets.

The phenomenon of digital media convergence has substantially impacted the advertising practice of the 21st century. New media, convergence culture and multimedia practices have provided advertisers with a platform where they can effectively engage and communicate with the flexibility and unpredictability of consumers. The most important developments for new media advertising can be seen through its revolutionized forms, creative strategies and future prospects, all of which highlight the significant improvements and benefits digital media convergence has provided for advertising agencies, consumers and service providers. 


Dwyer, T. (2010) Media Convergence, McGraw Hill. Berkshire, pp.8
Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture, New York University Press.
Spurgeon, C. (2008) Advertising and New Media, Oxon, Routledge, pp. 24-45
Sheehan, K and Morrison, D. (2009) Beyond convergence: Confluence culture and the role of the advertising agency in a changing world in First Monday Vol 14No 3 -
Bezjian-Avery, A. (1998) New media interactive advertising vs. traditional advertising. Journal of advertising research, 38, 23.

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