Media type interaction cycle

Yunjae Cheong
Ph.D. Student
Department of Advertising
The University of Texas at Austin
John D. Leckenby
Professor and Everett D. Collier Centennial Chair in Communication
Department of Advertising
The University of Texas at Austin
Working Paper
Center for Interactive Advertising
The purpose of this paper is to illustrate that “traditional” and “new” media are not
mutually exclusive categories but rather represent a continuum. There appears to be
“interaction” among media types during and after their initial development. This idea is
explored in numerous examples in this paper, and the patterns of mutual influence are
called “The Media Interaction Cycle.” The phases of development of this cycle are
Transference, Exclusivity, and Recurrence; they frequently overlap. This study
investigates three facets of this interaction between media types as they develop over
time: Technical, Material, and Commercial. Implications for and connections with the
field of media planning will be considered. More research about the three phases of the
Media Interaction Cycle could help us to better prepare for the future of advertising and
to deal more successfully with advertising today.ഊ1
The Internet has been the fastest-growing new medium ever, and it is experiencing
exponential growth in the number of networks, number of hosts, and volume of traffic
(Stern, 1995). Nua Research (2003) notes that, in September 2002, 182.67 million people
in the U.S. and Canada were online; this represents 65.13 % of the population of those
two countries. This is close enough to the 70 % mark to suggest that, from the media
planning perspective in the field of advertising, the Internet has become a major media
Advertising has experienced a lot of changes with the advent of the Internet. The
increased number of media types and the recent evolution of the Internet have created a
puzzlement for advertisers. However, the first thing to note about “new” media is that
they are not completely new. They have been growing out of the old media over time.
“Old” and “new” are not mutually exclusive categories but rather represent a continuum.
Each of the old media is constantly evolving over time. The fact that old media change
over time leads to the proposition that the old media “interact” with each new medium
during the process of the new medium’s development, to make new medium something
other than it might have been in the absence of the old media types. This idea is explored
in this paper and called, “The Media Interaction Cycle.”
This study will explore primarily the idea of the interaction between media types
as they develop over time. How has the fact that the Internet WWW has been developed
affected the evolutionary change in traditional media? Are there identifiable phases in the
development of media types along these lines? Each of the above questions, as well as
further comparisons and contrasts between “old” and “new” media, will be addressed inഊ2
this discussion. Implications for and connections with the field of media planning will be
Media Interaction Cycle
There appears to be “interaction” among media types during and after their initial
development. The characterization of a set of interactions, one such suggested by
Leckenby (in Goldfarb, 1999), is illustrated in Figure 1 below.
[Figure 1] Phases of the Media Interaction Cycle
While it is not possible to generalize about all the possible characteristics of
media development, the following three may be worth noting: (1) Technical, (2) Material,
and (3) Commercial. It is upon the bases of the above three dimensions that the maturity
of a medium on the traditional-to-new continuum may be judged. One example is today’s
ubiquitous online banner ads, which are simply a product of taking known methods and
ideas and transferring them to the new medium from the traditional media, a common
Phase I:
Phase II:
Phase III:
occurrence with the advent of a new medium. This is the first phase of the media cycle,
“The Transference Phase.”
The technical aspects of new media development are influenced by traditional
media, which, nonetheless, do not disappear upon the introduction of the new media.
There is some historical evidence of similar evolutionary influence for the Internet:
“Prototype activities leading to the Internet would then include the distant operation of a
single computer by telephone wire. This was first done by George Stibitz with the IBM
Model 1 in 1940, so the concept of remote operation via keyboard and telephone line can
be said to antedate the first true computers by a number of years. By the 1960’s, both GE
and a specialized firm, Tymeshare, sold systems allowing for remote access to computers
via telephone links” (Hardy, 1996). Similarly, each additional “new” medium has
developed through interaction between it and traditional media in terms of technology.
Another example, the radio, was a far more economical method to access music than the
previous methods had been. This evolutionary success in the medium’s material aspect is
similar to the situation of the Internet, whose users can download free music from
applications like KaZaA and Morpheus. This shows both new media and traditional
media sharing a similar concept—economical pleasure and entertainment. But this does
not necessarily mean that the traditional media will be abandoned in favor of the new;
Internet users still utilize the several media because of the different benefits of each
medium (Coffee and Stipp, 1997).
In the second phase, “The Exclusivity Phase,” however, there are invariably new
tools and ideas developed exclusively to answer unique problems that involve the new
medium. Such ideas and tools are being developed and understood now for the Internet,ഊ4
such as user-centric audience measurement methods. Compared with other media, the
Internet medium model has not yet been fully developed conceptually. For example, log
data which can track the routes of Internet users are analyzed in extremely detailed ways
today, but there are frequent occasions when it is very difficult to determine the duration
and times of connection, reach/frequency, and click-through. The specific natures of
these problems had not been clearly established until now, so companies which measures
Internet audience have been free to give any interpretation they like to the data. New
methods and ideas are now being developed to solve such problems, which are perceived
to be exclusive to this new medium.
The final phase, “The Recurrence Phase,” will be apparent when techniques and
ideas for the new medium “turn back” to the older formats; the new ideas and methods
invented for the new medium will come to be applied to traditional media. TV ads that
look like Web interactive ads are an indication of this phase in the medium’s commercial
aspect, for example, but there are numerous other instances of the Internet’s effect on the
traditional media:
The television industry is certainly immense; but, it receives quite little feedback
from its audiences and must rely upon program ratings and such, as measures of audience
size (Schramn 1961). However, with digital TV, a method which substitutes a TV for a
PC monitor to access the Internet is being developed. As this method is commercialized,
many people who are not adept at using a PC can nonetheless now use the Internet. Some
television stations have experimented with computers hooked up to audiences’ TV sets.
Audiences are asked questions, and they answer, using the PC. The answers are directlyഊ5
received by the television station linked to the TV by cable, so that, for example, users
can play along with a game show just as though it were an online game.
The Internet has already transformed the cinema audiences, just as radio and
television had transformed them before. Internet users may see the preview of a movie or
reviews written by other Internet users who have already watched it, before they go to the
theater. This is another illustration of the impact of the Internet on other media, such as
film. Along a similar line, TV and radio programs can also be rebroadcast through the
Internet, so that Internet users can enjoy them whenever they want.
This Media Interaction Cycle is envisioned as a process which may have no easily
discernible and discrete start or finish for any one medium.
Application of the Cycle to Advertising Management Issues
Advertising is one indicator of the growth of a medium, along with the penetration of the
medium into the population of a society. Therefore, it is worthwhile to put the Internet
into context with respect to advertising expenditures for “old” media types. Robert Coen
of McCann-Erickson Advertising Agency has reported on the records kept by the
advertising industry. Below is a chart on U.S. advertising expenditures based on his data.
The Internet has grown in a short period of time with respect to advertising expenditures,
as shown in Figure 2. Newspapers have historically constituted the largest advertising
medium in the U.S. (18.6% of the total advertising expenditures in 2002), but the
expenditures on its advertising have decreased with the advent of the Internet. As an
advertising medium, the Internet is comparable in the size of its expenditures to Outdoorഊ6
advertising, at 2.2%. Although the growth of the mass media cannot be understood
merely as an effect of the increase in advertising expenditures, the size of such
expenditures can be one of the indexes to understand the growth of a medium. The
introduction of a new medium is a significant historical occasion when patterns anchored
in older media are challenged, re-examined, and defended.
[Figure 2] U.S. Advertising Expenditures
With respect to advertising and related fields, what are the possible implications
of the Media Interaction Cycle? And why do advertising people need to know about this
cycle? Most media plans for national brands involve the usage of more than one media
type. The use of a mixed-media strategy has increased exponentially (Huffenbeger,
Kanfer, Schlosser, and Ryan, 1998; Kanfer, Schlosser, and Ryan, 1996). For example,
one key to appealing to consumers to a Web site is to promote the site by the use of
traditional media (Sadikin, 1995; Unger, 1996).
1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Broadcast TV
Advertising ideas and practices are contingent upon the development of new
media types. There is an intimate connection between how a medium develops and the
manner in which advertising people deal with this development. In this sense, the Media
Interaction Cycle is important for advertising people to understand, both from a
managerial perspective, and from the broader perspective of self-understanding of their
role in development processes of media types. In this context, it is important to attempt to
understand how the phases of the Media Interaction Cycle can be observed at any given
point in time in the development phases for a given media type, because there is a “flow”
of the characteristics between media types in planning the campaign.
Initially, with the advent of a new medium, most interest probably centers on the
“Transference Phase.” Managers of advertising campaigns confront a confusing situation
when a new medium comes upon the scene. The easy pathway to deal with this new
medium is to rely upon existing knowledge about how to do things as they have been
done before in the medium judged to be most “similar” to the new one. For example, the
concept of pop-up ads is borrowed from TV: A Web surfer needs to visit a certain site but
sometimes must wade through an ad page first. This is similar to a television audience’s
having to watch commercials before seeing a certain show (O’Guinn, Allen, and
Semenik, 2000).
Radio and television broadcasters determine advertising rates, based on the
duration the average audience spends during a specific hour or quarter-hour. Radio’s time
spent listening (TSL) or television’s time spent viewing (TSV) can be applied to online
advertising pricing. Advertisers could associate the duration time that audiences spend on
a Web site to the probability of their clicking on a banner ad on that site. This pricingഊ8
model for radio and television can transfer to the pricing strategy for banner ads, based on
the amount of time the banner ad remains on the screen (Kaye and Medoff, 2001).
If users of the Internet do not want to see a whole page of ads, then only a small
part of the page may have ads. And this means a small ad space. Outdoor advertising is
the model for “short talk” in advertising, with a rule of thumb stretching over many
decades of media and creative practices in advertising; only eight words or fewer are
ordinarily used in outdoor advertisements. So, from a creative perspective and a media
planning perspective, at first Internet ads may have been treated as outdoor ads. In the
Transference Phase of Internet development, it may be the case that outdoor advertising
served as the basis for banner ads on the Internet. Clearly, a campaign involving outdoor
ads and those on the Internet would have similarities both in media planning and in
creative execution.
The content of an outdoor ad has to be extremely brief to gain attention, because
people can easily walk or drive by a board without paying full attention. It is usually
accepted that only eight words or fewer are used on the board, because people spend little
time with a billboard message. An online ad, therefore, has to work like an outdoor ad,
striving to gain the attention of people who are surfering the Internet.
Newspapers are an effective medium, and readers make use of them for
comparison shopping. People regard newspapers as a useful information source, and the
key to newspapers’ effectiveness is that they are credible (Donnelly, 1996). Newspapers
also have a major impact on unplanned shopping. Donnelly (1996) indicated that
“Newspaper are a major influence on unplanned purchases. Of those who saw advertising
before making an unplanned purchase, 60 percent saw the advertising in a newspaper.”ഊ9
This fact carries implications for advertising people about how consumers might utilize
the Internet as an information source. Increased access to information, choices, and a
great saving of time can be made possible by using the Internet (Bogart, 1973).
Advertisers inevitably can deduce implications for the content and targeting of
advertising messages, based on the informational non-time aspect of Internet advertising,
which can facilitate the utilitarian process and increasingly fast shopping, so that the
Internet may grow to be the biggest medium, as newspapers did in the past due to their
There is the sense that something “unique” is happening in the new medium of the
Internet, unlike anything before in other media types. In this “Exclusivity Phase,” this
leads to the idea that totally new forms of creative and media planning need to be
developed for this situation.
There are Web audience measurement companies such as ‘archrivals Media
Matrix, New York,’ and ‘RelevantKnowledge, Atlanta’ (Kipp, 1999). Basically, the
concept of their methodology is similar to that of TV audience measurement. However,
one of the biggest differences between TV audience measurement and Web audience
measurement is in the ability to track Web users’ behaviour separately at home and at
work. The same users may show different behaviour patterns at home and at work. The
Internet is the only media type by such difference can be investigated. Therefore,
advertisers need to take advantage of this unique Internet characteristic in their web
audience measurements.
As mentioned in the Transference Phase, the idea of pop-up ads is adopted from
TV. Advertisers can utilize the unique format of pop-ads to catch the attention of Webഊ10
surfers. For example, a pop-up ad looks like a car going through a Web site, so that the
Web surfer may click on this pop-up ad. A pop-up ad can show the entire content of the
ad to a Web surfer who clicks on this pop-up ad. This creative ad concept is possible only
through the Internet.
There is a desire to mimic in traditional media the advertising work in the new
medium. So creative people are developing messages which look like Internet ads but
which are run on television. Moreover, media planners may wish to transfer some of the
knowledge about audience measurement gained with the Internet (“click-through,” for
example) to television audience measurement gained with the Internet. In this
“Recurrence Phase,” advertising people get the idea that what has been going on in the
new medium, such as the Internet, may have utility in a traditional medium as well; this is
a “feedback effect.”
It may be that television adopts some of the practices of the Internet advertising
process, both from a media and a creative perspective. At that point, television
advertising would benefit from a full understanding of Internet advertising practices. The
Internet can promote purchase decisions by providing consumers with the option of
purchase when they are exposed to an ad. This eliminates the gap between ad exposure
and purchase decision (Anderson, 1995; Hoffman, Novak, and Chatterjee, 1995).
Research by interactive television player, WorldGate Communications, Inc. (1999),
indicates that “users may click through to interactive ads inserted in related television
programs more often than they do on standard Web banner ads.” Oliver (2002) also
states, that “Interactive TV takes the measurability of advertising to an all-time high.”
Users can access Internet services through their television sets and approach televisedഊ11
content with links to Web content. Industry experts say interactive TV’s influence on
advertising is still undetermined, but innovation is inevitable. Forrester Research predicts
interactive TV advertising will produce more than $11 billion a year by 2004 (Juliana,
Interactive TV can change the role of the consumer from watcher to responder,
and even to buyer at home without delay. Such a dramatic transformation surpasses the
traditional direct response to TV advertising. This way, advertisers can take the
measurability of advertising to greater effectiveness, because audiences can be captured
in real-time. Because it is also crucial for advertisers to know ‘who’ is reacting as well as
‘how many’ (Oliver, 2002), such innovations can be priceless. If a consumer clicks on an
interactive TV ad and goes through to a Web site for a cosmetic firm, the broadcasters
can make a record of this level of activity, and if a consumer requests free samples, they
can capture even richer data (Alasdair, 2003). The demographics, lifestyles and
purchasing behaviours of respondents captured through interactive TV can enable
advertisers to keep in step with their target audiences. Eventually, interactive TV can be
utilized to identify which competitor brands are losing their market share as an immediate
result of a campaign, and to affect customer loyalty by investigating longer-term changes
in consumer behaviour, as well as short-term cause and effect. Thus, advertisers become
increasingly able to create more suitable commercials.
By being able to track consumer behaviour through interactive TV, the
information gathered can be used to understand traditional media where it has been
impossible to keep track of consumer behaviour.ഊ12
Consumer goals and the structural context in which communications have their
effects have been critical determinants of advertising effectiveness, but such matters have
been regarded as “noise” because of the inability to accurately capture them with
traditional media (Stewart and Pavlou, 2002). However, determining the answers to such
questions becomes possible through the special capabilities of the Internet. Measurable
advertising will soon prevail, and the total integration of brand management and direct
response advertising can be managed in the near future.
Thus, the standardization of measuring Internet advertising effectiveness may be a
meaningful step on the path toward more successful traditional advertising.
By taking fuller advantage of the unique features of the Internet, filmmakers also
will be able to reach equally large but more specialized audiences scattered around the
world. They will also be able to appeal to the special interests and curiosities of
individuals anywhere, any time, through the Internet, rather than making lowest-common-
denominator appeals to the masses (Gilder, 1994).
The Media Interaction Cycle will possibly help those interested in understanding
the usage of media in general, to better “blend” the media types together in their thinking,
rather than viewing them in strictly isolated, developmental fashion. Advertisers need to
know which medium to add and when to add it (Erwin, 2000). Nonetheless, the Media
Interaction Cycle alone can not offer direction, but the Media Interaction Cycle and reach
can work together to optimize the effectiveness of mixing media.ഊ13
Implications and Conclusions
The primary point to be made in this discussion is that there is an interaction, here called
“The Media Interaction Cycle,” between media types in terms of their development over
time. To fully understand the development of a new medium, it is clear that
understanding of the traditional media must first be obtained by making a careful study
from a compare-and-contrast standpoint and from a broader historical perspective.
However, it may also be the case that the three characteristics noted above under
the discussion of Media Dimensions- technical, material and commercial –may play a
large part in the determination of the dominance of each of the phases of the Media
Interaction Cycle. Future empirical and historical research would be helpful to explore
this hypothesis.
More research is needed, especially of an historical nature, to document precisely
over time, the extent to which the three phases of the Media Interaction Cycle can be
observed, how the “overlaps” of each phase between pairs of media types impinge upon
media planning and other advertising-related issues, and what characteristics determine
exactly the discrete and the overlapping operation of the phases. Studies of both historical
and empirical natures of this cycle will help to understand the usage of media in general,
in order to better “blend” the media types.
An understanding of the Media Interaction Cycle could help take advantage of
this tendency among those interested in advertising and other related fields dependent
upon media development.
While there has been some study concerning the characteristics of media types
and how these should impact media planning practices, there has been relatively littleഊ14
research concerning the interaction of media types and how this may impact media
planning implementation. It would be helpful, therefore, to understand the “flow” of the
characteristics between these media types, in planning ad campaigns. New media may not
only be the “rescuers” of the traditional media, but may also be thanked for re-defining
the whole ad prospect. All three of these Phases deserve more attention, despite the
unlikelihood of immediate advantage to advertising professionals. However, more
research about the three phases of the Media Interaction Cycle can not only help us to
prepare the future of advertising but also help us to deal more successfully with
advertising today.ഊ15
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