From interruption to integration: are we at scale yet?


I love change, chaos and disruption.  In my industry (media and marketing), disruption happens frequently (yay!).  A case in point being the change from single channel marketing to multi-channel  / omni-channel  marketing or whatever term you use to indicate that the marketing message is FIRST and the media/platform is viewed as secondary delivery tactics.

Since I love change, I am always on the look-out for areas in the media/marketing world in the process of change. And not just micro-changes, but also big, revolutionary, disruptive changes that indicate someone may go out of business if they don’t change.

To me, the litmus test for really disruptive change is: can this change become mainstream?  In my world “mainstream” means that all small businesses and part-time marketers can do it. Not ARE they doing it (adoption), but CAN they do it (capability).  The key indicator of capability is the disruptive ideas ability to scale, since there are a large volume of small businesses.

Here is an example of how social marketing at scale lead the way for disruption:

  • Social platforms launch
  • A couple of small companies started using social for marketing (e.g., food trucks and twitter).  Guerrilla marketing, couldn’t scale.
  • The big companies with the big budgets and high tolerance for risk began the process of standardizing social marketing.  Nike was a real leader in this area.  Custom marketing + advertising, couldn’t scale.
  • A few years ago facebook and twitter introduced self-serve ad systems, and social marketing + advertising has now become do-able for small businesses.  Technology = scale.

From my perspective the next disruption on the horizon for the advertising and media industry is integrated advertising.  In this instance, integrated doesn’t mean a single message across all platforms, rather it means that the advertising is PART-OF or incorporated INTO the story.  Traditionally, advertising has been an interruption of the consumer experience:

  • The TV show is stopped so the ad can play
  • The magazine article is continued on another page to make room for a page of advertising
  • The web-content is reduced to 2/3 of the page in order to make room for ads in the surrounding areas.

In all instances the content (the user intent) is interrupted in order to accommodate the advertiser or sponsors message.  But this concept is changing. Advertising is no longer an interruption of the story, but is actually integrated into the story.  Here are some examples:

  • Yahoo’s Get The Look (see the photo inset). On yahoo!, when I scroll through photos of celebs at a red carpet event, I can roll over the photo and see a promotion for a similar product.  I see it, I like it, I click it, I buy it.  Moving from interruption to integration.
  • Branded Content or Branded Entertainment.  Product placement has existed in the entertainment industry for decades, Branded Content is just the next evolutionary step.  If you haven’t see it yet, then you have to see AT&T’s Daybreak as an example of what this really looks like.
  • Content Marketing.  Here, the brand creates the content as part of the over-all business value proposition.   The popularity of Sponsored Content on linked-in, facebook and yahoo supports this point.
  • Second-screens and Internet TV adds a whole other dimension of integration with the concept of t-commerce.  And my list could go on…

However, this raises the question: is integrated advertising just a bubble or is this a true disruption of the advertising system?  And to answer this question I will apply my test for disruption:  is it starting to scale?  Me thinks so, and here is why:

  • In my previous Product role, we introduced video production services to small businesses, and this business is still going strong.  Last time I checked we had created over 40,000 small business videos.  Video content at scale.
  • Last week at the Content Marketing World Conference I met the CEO of  They connect content creators with small businesses via an online interface.  Content at scale.

I think there are a few more pieces that need to be developed before I can put a check in the “done” box, but it looks to me like integrated advertising is beginning to scale, which means disruption is just around the corner.


One thought on “From interruption to integration: are we at scale yet?

  1. Great piece!
    Interruption marketing is unfortunately dying a very slow death but it is happening. Integration marketing is the underlying power of “content marketing” (non-disruptive pull vs. disruptive push). The danger, it seems, is ill-advised marketing messages embedded in relevant stories where the consumer perceives a thinly disguised sales pitch when not anticipating it…end of story I think.

    For marketers, distinguishing between market serving and marketer serving content, the juxtaposition of same and deployment of both with integrity is the ongoing challenge yes? No?

    Explorations like Tina’s piece spark thinking and advance the cause of great content driven engagement! Bravo

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