Posted by: Laura Phillips Garner | May 18, 2010

When New Media Is No Longer New

Consumers expect information from companies where, when and how they want it, and they want to be able to act on that information. Photo by Francesco Marino

The world today refers to any form of media that is not traditional media (print, television, radio) as new and emerging media. Yet, at some point, what we now consider new and emerging media will no longer be new or emerging. Think about it: The Internet is 40, and the World Wide Web will be 20 in December.

What should the world call “new media” when the current forms of digital media are no longer “new” or “emerging”? If I were the Queen of Nomenclature, I would decree it be called “custom media.”

Merriam Webster Online defines the adjective “custom” as “made or performed according to personal order.” The types of new and emerging media in the market—podcasts, Webcasts, social marketing, mobile marketing, banner ads, blogs, pop ups, pop unders, email, and short films—all focus, in some aspect, on sharing what the company needs the consumer to know in the context of what the consumer needs. Thus, I would define custom media as all forms of media that need digital technology to create tailored interactive marketing communications experiences based on information consumers offer, with their consent to take part and results in an action within the medium that builds a relationship between the company and the consumer.

In both custom and traditional forms of media, consumers choose whether to take part in the marketing communications experience. No one forces a consumer to look at print ads, watch television commercials, or listen to radio commercials. Consumers can move on to the next printed page, leave the room, change the channel or station, or skip the commercial with a digital video recorder. In the case of custom media, consumers can block the pop-up, ignore the banner ad, choose not to sign up for Facebook or MySpace or decide not give their permission or information so that the company can contact them.

The difference between new media and traditional media is that, once consumers choose to take part in custom media experiences, they tailor these experiences to fit their individual preferences. Traditional mass media pushes communications at consumers and usually requires them to take actions via another medium (i.e. a print or broadcast ad that directs a consumer to a Web site or telephone number for further action). With custom media, consumers pull messages through the communications channel when and how they want them, tailored to their needs and with opportunities to act within the chosen medium.

Nowadays, consumers get information about products how they want, when they want, and where they want it. Companies must share that specific information anytime and anywhere with the click of a mouse or the touch of a Smartphone. If that isn’t customization, I don’t know what is.

–Laura Phillips Garner


  1. Good thoughts. We really do need to find another term and likely one will emerge soon. If we wait too long, someone will likely start call it Social Security Media. Sorry. Custom media works well. Another idea from this post, consumer media.

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