Consumers are creating their own content and marketers are monitoring their activity to react. New media has made the single voice a force to be reckoned with. Have you seen the YouTube video “United Breaks Guitars?” It is one man’s effort to get United Airlines to pay for the guitar their baggage handlers broke. It is up to 8.1 million views. On the best nights last fall the Jay Leno Show pulled in 6.2 million viewers. And United Airline’s own magazine Hemispheres only has an annual circulation of 4.5 million.
Why does new media matter? Because Blending an iPhone on YouTube lead to a five-fold increase in sales for Blendtec. Because CEOs are communicating directly with employees and customers. Sun Microsystems CEO Blog gets 400,000 hits a month. Because the cable company is actually changing its image. Comcastcares is improving customer service by monitoring negative comments on Twitter and responding directly. Because in three days the American Red Cross raised $7 million for its Haiti relief efforts via text messaging.
What we’re really talking about is anything that promotes interaction (consumer to consumer, company to consumer, consumer to company) through digital technology. Is it all still new? Dot coms had their boom and bust over ten years ago. The FTC suggests a six-month limit on the use of the word new in advertising. So is it time for a new name for new media? I humbly suggest “Interactive Digital Media.”
New media is digital. And it matters because it is interactive.