Whenever you attend any kind of marketing conference (be it for the Internet or a general marketing session), the one question that always comes up is, "when will the Internet surpass television in terms of mass consumption and usage?"
That's the wrong question.
If you have ever seen any of the PowerPoint slides that statistically demonstrate these media trends, it's quite clear that while the traditional media channels (radio, print, TV, etc...) remain either stagnant or are gaining a little/loosing significant overall audience and reach, as the Internet continues to grow (and it looks like that hockey stick-type of growth curve). It's clear why this is:
- There are still geographic areas who are just getting high speed Internet access.
- It is still a fairly new media channel (when compared to the others).
- As more media choices come on board, people tend to try the latest and greatest.
- As more choices enter the marketplace there is more and more fragmentation.
- It is a media that is now more commonly available (than other media) at both work and home.
- The mobile aspect of it continues to grow - especially due to the iPhone and the app store.
- It's more than a media platform, it is also a form of communication (and so much more than that).
- Different segments (boomers, the elderly, etc...) are coming on-board faster and this is pushing usage.
- The platforms are becoming more ubiquitous and easier to use.
- The technology is no longer a barrier.
All valid reasons that make perfect sense.
But maybe... just maybe, we need to stop looking at when the Internet will surpass television and benchmark it against something else entirely. The Internet is much more than a media channel and it is much more than a communications platform. It's both of those and so much more.
We should start benchmarking the Internet against electricity.
Electricity is a utility. The phone is a utility. The Internet is a utility (and so much more). The reasoning is that we're not just talking about the Internet any more. We're talking about how human beings now connect. We're communicating with one another through this platform (and yes, this includes mobile) to do much more than speak (or hear voices). We're sharing and creating text, images, audio and video. We're also using this connectivity to figure new and interesting ways of connecting more. That alone makes it something "other than" your traditional media platforms.
Do we forget about benchmarking the Internet against TV and start benchmarking it against the electricity?