Friday, August 31, 2012

Sell, Sell, Sell: Buy it all and Buy it now!

A study of the phenomenon of digital media convergence
 and advertising & new media


Without advertising, new media and digital media convergence, advertisers would struggle to reach consumers in this new digital era. I aim to discuss the links between these three topics and will focus on how the combination is a winning formula for advertisers. The main points I will focus my discussion around will be advertising throughout history, new media and the effect on advertising and digital media convergence and what it means for advertisers. I will use the Gruen transfer, 'scan' advertising and YouTube as case studies to support my points.

Advertising- A historical overview

Advertising has been a controversial topic throughout history. Advertisers are needed by companies to sell the any item, so a large amount of spin is can be utilised to convince viewers and readers to buy what they don’t need. Bass et al. (2005) state that advertising is can be divided into two categories: brand advertising and generic advertising. Brand advertising is where advertising is used to gain market share whilst generic advertising is used to increase sales of a particular product (Bass et al. 2005). Advertising has dramatically increased its ability to make profit for a company, and for itself as an industry.
A controversial form of advertising, which emerged through film and television, is product placement. Product placement stretches as far back as 1896, in the Lumiere brothers’ short film Defile du 8eme Bataillon, or Parade of the 8th Battalion. It was the result of a joint effort between the Lumiere brothers and a Swiss businessman called Francois-Henri Lavanchy-Clarke. Francois-Henri Lavanchy-Clarke was interested in promoting some products for ‘Sunlight Soap’, a company whom he was in business with.
 At a certain moment in the film, a logo for ‘Sunlight Soap’ appears on the back of a cart. This moment can easily be missed, but product placement is certainly present. The main achievement in product placement is that it assimilates a product in a story. This form of advertisement is still present today.

Recently, public interest in advertising has skyrocketed. Interest in the effect that advertising has upon us has resulted in the launch of new programs or new segments in existing ones that target these concerns. ABC’s program the Gruen transfer is an excellent example of this. It combines advertising personalities with a comic host to evaluate advertising attempts, product placement, image control, and branding on television, print, social media, on the internet and on radio. To put it simply, it makes understanding advertising accessible to the general public, and by that I mean people who don’t fully understand the influence of advertising.


Despite the many forms of advertising through history, due to the increase in technology and the rise of the internet, advertisers are drifting away from conventional forms of advertising, such as simple product placement and newspaper advertisements. Instead, they are embracing the internet as the new medium for advertisements. 

New Media and the effect on advertising

New media has had a dramatic effect on advertising. Most importantly, it has changed the way in which advertisers present advertisements to the public. Sheehan (2009) states that there has been a fundamental shift in the media landscape. Sheehan (2009) adds that time has now become a redundant concept in terms of the media, as people do not just watch their favourite television show on the television anymore. Gone are the days when a simple VHS recorder would suffice. Audiences have now drifted to the internet, to watch their favourite programs whenever they want, as many times as they want- without having to fast-forward through the advertising breaks or brush off dust from tapes long forgotten. This shift has dramatically altered the way in which advertisers can access consumers. Spurgeon (2008) suggests that the internet is the most important advertising development since the first phone directory or the start of newspaper advertising.

The emergence of interactive channels, such as YouTube, on the internet where consumers can directly engage with the world, or look up music videos, television shows or shows directly made for YouTube has also changed advertisers abilities to communicate with consumers.
 Spurgeon (2008) dictates that the internet is now a platform for advertising, adding that advertising and new media have now co-adapted. For example, YouTube has begun converging advertising into their channels- with 15 second to 60 second advertising videos made unavoidable if you wish to watch a certain video. YouTube is not alone in allowing this style of advertising; SBS on demand, PLUS7, ninemsn video catch-up and ten videos are other examples of online video players that have integrated advertisements.

Digital Media convergence and its significance

Digital Media convergence is highly significant in terms of advertising. For example, think of your iPhone. Among other capabilities, you can access the internet with it, film and take pictures and download specific ‘apps’. In recent years, advertisers have developed ‘scan’ advertising, where you use your iPhone’s camera and a scanning ‘app’ to scan the code and gain the discount or special offer.
 Not only does this make advertising more participatory for consumers, but it can allow advertisers to gain information from the consumer about their age, where they live, their phone number or their email address so the advertiser can send more ‘special offers’ at any time.

Digital Media convergence has also impacted the way in which advertisers can reach consumers. It has also impacted upon advertisers, making them reconsider their brand image and consumers reaction with it (Jenkins, 2006).

Throughout history, advertisers have found ways to access consumers- whether that be through television, film, print or radio. But over the past decade or so, due to the rise in digital media convergence and new media, advertisers have begun targeting the online world and our new smart devices, like iPhones. With apps that can now scan advertisements and advertisements on places like YouTube, will there ever be a place where we are not targeted by advertisers? 


Bass, FM, Krishnamoorthy, A, Prasad, A & Sethi, SP 2005, ‘Generic and Brand Advertising Strategies in a Dynamic Duopoly’, Marketing Science, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 556 – 568, accessed August 25 2012, URL <>

Business Pundit 2011, 10 Surprising Examples of Product Placement is Classic Cinema, viewed August 30 2012, URL <>

Deuze, M 2006, “Participation, remediation, bricolage: Considering principal components of a digital culture,” Information Society, vol. 22, no. 2, pp. 63–75.

Dwyler, T 2010, Media Convergence, McGraw Hill, Berkshire, pp. 1 – 23.

Fox, S 1997, The Mirror Makers, 2nd edn, University of Illinois Press, accessed August 26 2012, URL <>

Jenkins, H 2006, Convergence Culture, New York, New York University Press, pp. 1-24.

MirriAd 2012, Vespa, Wrigley’s, and National Geographic: Where Product Placement REALLY Started, viewed August 30 2012, URL <’s-and-national-geographic-where-product-placement-started/>

Sheehan, K & Morrison, D 2009, ‘Beyond convergence: Confluence culture and the role of the advertising agency in a changing world’, First Monday, vol. 14, no. 3, accessed August 26 2012, URL <>

Images and Videos

ABC TV 2010, ‘The Gruen Transfer, Series 3 Episode 11, Ad Crunch: Plain Packaging’, video, YouTube, September 27, URL <>

CBS Outdoor survey shows that QR codes are more popular than augmented reality and NFC advertisements in Europe 2012, image, QR Code Press, March 28, viewed August 31 2012, URL <>

More old school product placement 2011, image, Sponsorshit, October 18, viewed August 31 2012, URL <>

Never too late to play catch-up 2012, image, Sydney Morning Herald, May 17, viewed August 31 2012, URL <>

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