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September 24, 2010

Push and Pull

Filed under: General,Internet Rant,Perspective — Bryan @ 4:07 am

In the world of advertising and marketing you can identify communications as either push or pull. Push is where you push content out to viewers and Pull is where viewers come to you to get content.

Mediums such as TV, newsletters and banner ads are identified as push based communications in that they are designed to push information about new products and services to you. The idea is to inform you about a solution to a perceived need you never knew you had.

Internet content in general (and by extension most social media) is considered pull based communications because the viewer has to actively go out and request the information in order to receive it. There is currently no way for you to force someone to read your blog or watch your YouTube video (not that people aren’t trying to figure out a way to do it though). Granted you can design a website that forces a pop-up ad to show before you can read the page you want to visit. In this case the add is push, but the content that that provided you to the chance to see the ad is pull.

In many ways, modern TV has evolved to this state. Historically when all we had generally were three channels run by national networks to choose from in any given U.S. city an advertiser could simply run their ad on all three networks at peek viewing hours for their target demographic and be confident that just about everyone would see the ad. Now with literally thousands of TV channels between broadcast, cable, satellite, internet, etc… combined with time shifting technology (ie, DVR devices such as Tivo) advertisers are moving to running ads specifically related to a particular program. In very much the same dynamic as a web site (eg, you want to run an advertisement that I.T. workers will see? Run it on TV during a show like MythBusters, and then put your online ads on a site like Slashdot.

Really, the bottom line is consumer choice vs. advertiser choice. The less choice a consumer has the more push communications can be applied unilaterally. The unfortunate thing here is that as people have more choice, marketers must get more intrusive in order to push their messaging out. I’m left thinking of a scene in Minority Report where the Tom Cruise character is walking along and all of the wall ads are narrow focusing audio at him with personalized sales pitches.

In the decade since blogs first formally appeared as a platform, people have been trying to figure out a way to make them more Push based instead of Pull. Why? Because as a Pull based technology your readership is limited to who you can draw into your site and this is where link aggregation services such as Digg, etc… come into play. Effectively people have been trying to find a way to make a things like blogs work in the way TV communications used to work.

A site like Digg or Technorati are Pull services, but they have such high volume and high visibility that they can effectively becomes a Push agent for everyone else down stream because they have critical mass audience based on being an aggregate.

I suppose in the rare cases, there have been blogs that have attained that same space but in all of the cases I am aware of the blogs are working as an aggregate site. Examples would be Slashdot mentioned above as well as sites like BoingBoing or in the most extreme FARK.

So, I guess the lesson learned here is if you want to get the word about about your product, you either need to advertise everywhere you can (print, TV, web, etc…), go door-to-door like the old days (or site to site posting comments — don’t spam!) or get your site/product referenced on one of these aggrigator sites (you better have something unique going on to get their attention). Hmm… that’s all that comes to mind at the moment. Does anyone else have ideas on this subject?

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