"Digital" does not equal "interactive" marketing

[Posted by Shar VanBoskirk]

On a recent trip to Shanghai I attended a huge party for Adidas.  I was there with a friend of a friend who works for Ticketmaster and specialize in creating exclusive events and PR for brands, bands and celebrities.  Now this party was thumpin.'  On the top floor of a trendy Shanghai "loft" with a glass floor to see all the way down to the ground 20 odd floors below.  The room was chock full of people, and also huge digital billboards broadcasting Adidas commercials and branding messages.

And yet, amidst all the ice cream cones, pizzas and other more Chinese-ish appetizers, there was very little chance to actually interact with Adidas.  There was plenty of activity, and lots of digital media...but no outlet to actually engage with the Adidas brand.


Perhaps that wasn't the point of the party, and what Adidas wanted was just for people to associate its brand with "cool party."  But I found myself forgetting that Adidas was sponsoring the whole thing.  And it made me realize that "digital marketing" and "interactive marketing" are not at all the same thing.

Here's the definition of interactive marketing I've been using to guide our research:

China_round_2_004_2Technology-enabled marketing that creates a dynamic, personalized and/or two-way dialogue with the consumer.

Does the difference matter to you?  How do you define it?



re: "Digital" does not equal "interactive" marketing

This works the other way round as well: digital marketing didn't create interactivity, it just made it easier to base a campaign on. Malcolm Gladwell tells a story about the direct marketing genius Lester Wunderman that illustrates how using new 'technology' to engage audiences worked just as well before the internet!http://www.gladwell.com/1998/1998_07_06_a_spin.htmOn another occasion, he put a little gold box in the corner of all Columbia's print ads, and, in a series of television commercials, instructed viewers to look in the ads for the "buried treasure"; if they found the box, they could get another free record. The gold-box campaign raised responses by eighty per cent. "The Gold Box," he writes, "had made the reader/viewer part of an interactive advertising system. Viewers were not just an audience but had become participants. It was like playing a game."

re: "Digital" does not equal "interactive" marketing

Great point!

re: "Digital" does not equal "interactive" marketing

Interactive is just giving the consumers chance to say whay they think about what marketers just told them.

re: "Digital" does not equal "interactive" marketing

I agree. Recently the agency I co-own has set up an interactive division. Yet staff and clients use the word digital and interactive interchangeably. They are, as you point out, not the same thing.Virtually all electronic media is moving toward becoming digital, but not all of it is interactive. Interactive should deliver a two way dialogue and enable consumers to feedback to marketers instantaeously. Digital is simply the platform that has the potential to enable this.

re: "Digital" does not equal "interactive" marketing

First of all thank you for posting this; it is a common misnomer I also frequently encounter. One question for clarification however…If we agree that interactive marketing should deliver a two way dialogue and enable consumers to feedback to marketers instantaneously, then do you consider search engine marketing, online display ads, email marketing, and online video marketing to be digital or interactive marketing?Many of the Forrester Reports (E.g. October 10, 2007 “US Interactive Marketing Forecast 2007 to 2012”) categorize each of these elements as interactive marketing yet I question whether SEM truly dictates a two-way dialogue unless web analytics are considered to be the driver of the “dialogue”. Thoughts?