Friday, August 31, 2012


Laura Webster 42852137

Digital media convergence is the process in which new media technologies and platforms intersect and adapt with existing traditional media cultures and industries (Dwyer, 2010). It describes both the advancement in digital communication and media delivery modes, as well as the shift towards an active, socially connected, migratory culture of consumers. Within this participatory and interactive milieu, digital media convergence has redefined traditional media advertising, shaping its adaption to an increasingly fragmented, autonomous audience (Napoli, 2011).

Digital media convergence has engendered a new media reality, in which consumers are increasingly being recognised as individualised, differentiated and reflexive (Khamis, 2012). Due to modern technological advancements, consumers are less confined to traditional media platforms and are able to bring content more greatly under their control,  facilitating an interactive and socially participative culture (Jenkins, 2006). As Spurgeon (2008) relates, digitization has shifted the control of media distribution towards end-users, with technologies such as Personal Video Recorders enabling consumers to skip over advertisements entirely. Media convergence has therefore sparked the crucial transformation of traditional advertising in adapting to the new reality of interactive media (Sheehan, 2009). 

Convergence has seen rapid advertiser growth in new, online, media forms (Spurgeon, 2008)

The fragmentation of media audiences has challenged traditional advertising approaches and methods. Structured on the principle that success was determined by the greatest amount of audience exposure, convergence culture has required a redefinition of advertising approaches (Napoli, 5). Advertisers struggle to consolidate audiences as more delivery modes and platforms disperse audiences across numerous media opportunities (McPhillips and Merlo, 2008). Convergence has facilitated what can be described as ‘pull media’, where consumers are increasingly in the command position to chose what content they see and what to do with what they see, contrasting to the traditional ‘push media’ of passive media audiences (Sheehan, 2009). Consumers have become empowered to use “new media in new ways, to access more flexible services that offer an expanded range of choices for social connection, and on more convenient terms” (Spurgeon, 2008).

Thus, as audiences have become increasingly nomadic and autonomous, advertisers need to engage in attracting the attention of the consumer and tap into the unpredictable nature of consumer behaviour (Khamis, 2012). Advertisers that recognise this active, autonomous and spontaneous consumer culture, and the importance of one-to-one engagement and interactive communication, have found the greatest success within the modern media milieu (Sheehan, 2009; Napoli, 2011).

The viral ad campaign has been a dominating force in the modern convergence reality. A form of ‘electronic word-of-mouth’ whereby a marketing message is propelled through social media networks, the ‘viral revolution’ works as it complements consumer behaviour (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2011). By using a delivery platform such as the Internet, it facilitates easy distribution among individuals, tying in with existing communication networks between consumers, who desire to share content among friends, family and their wider social network. Both interactive and creatively engaging, the viral campaign recognise the cultural convergence notion in which audiences desire to form relationships with both people and brands (Sheehan, 2009). It allows consumers to “actively participate in negotiating the symbolic and use values of goods and service” (Spurgeon, 2008). Further, it is a more efficient form of advertising as online campaigns can be produced on a lower budget yet maintain levels of audience exposure comparable to traditional television marketing (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2011).

The success of the Old Spice ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ campaign demonstrates the enormous potential for viral marketing. The video received over 40 million hits within one week of its launch on YouTube (Reiss, 2010). Key to its success was the creation of an open dialogue between the consumer and the producer with the use of the “Look at your Man, Now Back to Me” interchange (Fernandez, 2011). 

After the initial success of the advert, the producers utilized social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook to allow audiences to ask questions directly to the Old Spice Man. A production team produced 180 near real time video responses to the queries (Reiss, 2010). This further succeeded in engaging the audience through direct conversation and personalization, a form of interactive storytelling (Bullas, 2011).

The Old Spice Man responds to an anonymous tweet

Further, the increased capacity for user-generated content and interactivity has resulted in a blurred distinction between the brand and the consumer (Sheehan, 2009). Often consumer-generated parodies of advertisements work to the advantage of the producer.


These two Old Spice Parody's used the format of the advertisement to promote their own brand or service

Branded content has been another dominating new media force of digital media convergence. It aims to ‘seductively package’ brand content by “contextualizing brand images that are so appealing that consumers will seek them out for inclusion in their personalized media and entertainment flows” (Spurgeon, 2008). One form of branded content can be seen in the convergence between film and advertising industries. These go beyond the traditional 30-second advert and are considered "fun pieces that create awareness of the brand and reward consumers." This is a significant example of the new opportunities facilitated by convergence. 

Keira Knightley as the face of Chanel's Coco Mademoiselle stars in a 3-minute film directed by academy-award nominated director Joe Wright
Branded content can also take the form of product placement. This was cleverly demonstrated through an episode of Modern Family, where the plot revolved around the purchase of the new Apple iPad, airing three days before the release of the device. 
Phil and his new Apple iPad
The internet search engine is another example of the new media technologies being appropriated by advertisers. Online advertising expenditure now rivals traditional display forms, as it allows advertisers to target particular search areas rather than consumers, narrowing the gap between advertisers and consumers (Spurgeon, 2008). 

 As Spurgeon (2008) notes, search media allows advertising content to become more discoverable, reaching a global audience

In conclusion, digital media convergence has engendered an interaction and fusion between traditional media technologies and contemporary modes of delivery and distribution. Viral campaigns have been an effective means of communicating brand messages, mirroring the behaviour of the socially-interactive consumer, with branded content converging film and advertising to create innovative and engaging content. Search media has similarly furthered the growth of new media and advertisers into online, digital contexts. Thus, convergence has resulted in advertisers and new media adapting to reflect a new culture of autonomous, socially interactive consumers. 



Dwyer, T. (2010) Media Convergence. Mcgraw Hill: Berkshire.
Jenkins, H. (2006) Convergence Culture: Where New Media and Old Media Collide. New York University Press: New York.
Spurgeon, C. (2008) Advertising and New Media. Routledge: Oxon.
Recommended readings:
Sheehan, K. and Morrison, D. (2009) Beyond convergence: Confluence culture and the role of the advertising agency in a changing world. First Monday [online] 14(3). Available at: [Accessed August 17 2012].
Lecture Content:
Khamis, S. (2012) Advertising and New Media, MAS110. Macquarie University, 22 August.
Further research:
Napoli, P. (2011) Audience Evolution; New Technologies and the Transformation of Media Audiences. Columbia University Press: New York.
Kaplan, Andreas M. and Haenlein, M. (2011) Two hearts in three-quarter time: How to waltz the social media/viral marketing dance. Business Horizons [online] 54(3): pp. 253-263. Available at: [Accessed August 18 2012].
McPhillips, S. and Merlo, O. (2008) Media convergence and the evolving media business model: an overview and strategic opportunities. The Marketing Review [online] 8(3): pp. 238-253. Available at: doi: 10.1362/146934708X337663 ISSN1469-347X [Accessed 19 August 2012].
Fernandez, J. (2011) How the Old Spice hunk took over the world [online]. USA: Marketing Week. Available at: [Accessed August 24 2012].
Jeff Bullas (2011) 11 Social Media Marketing Lessons from the Old Spice Campaign. Jeff 8 August 2011 [online: weblog]. Available at: [Accessed August 19 2012].
Reiss, C. (2010) Now look here, now learn from this… NBC News. 18th July [online]. Available at: [Accessed August 24 2012].
Linked content:
Ehrlich, B. (2010) The Old Spice Social Media Campaign by the Numbers [online]. USA: Mashable. Available at: [Accessed August 25 2012].
O’Neill, M. (2010) Top 10 Old Spice Parodies On YouTube [online]. USA: SocialTimes. Available at: [Accessed August 26 2012].
Parekh, Rupal. (2010) Why Long-Form Ads Are the Wave of the Future. Advertising Age. 3rd May [online]. Available at: [Accessed August 26 2012].
Erik. (2010) The Best of 2010. Brands & Films 28 December 2010 [online: weblog]. Available at: [Accessed August 26 2012].

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