"It’s a series of tubes."
The late Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) was roundly ridiculed by when he used this phrase to describe the internet in a senate committee hearing on net neutrality. And while I love a good intellectual pile-on as much as the next guy, I think it’s time to give Ted another hearing. You see, when it comes to how we in digital marketing think about our business, there’s more “truthiness” here than we might ever have imagined.
As I look back on the 16-plus years that I’ve been engaged in digital marketing, it seems increasingly like the total output of our efforts has been just what Ted described: a series of tubes. Oh don’t get me wrong….it’s a sweet set of pipes! We’ve rather elegantly connected zillions of people and places…..and then spent the next several years and billions in capital continually tinkering with the plumbing and switches.
As so often happens, the advance of technology has outpaced our imagination of how to create with it. So far, the tubes we’ve built are used pretty much for delivery and transportation: deliver our message to the consumer and then transport them from one place to another as a result.
Now is the time for those who will rethink, reimagine the content and flow of our plumbing. These tubes can carry insights, services, critical information from consumer to brand, impactful recommendations or guidance from consumer to consumer. They can be the nerve center around which all marketing grows, rather than just the pipeline through which advertising and response flow a little more efficiently every day.
This internet…..it’s just a series of tubes. And for marketers that’s all it will ever be until our vision becomes at least as good as our technology.