Push vs. pull media

A few years ago (eons in the digital world) the term “push and pull” media was a well-known marketing phrase. “Push” media were phenomena like television and radio that were delivered to the consumer without much interaction on their part. “Pull” media was content the consumer had to actively seek out and extract for themselves: newspapers and magazines, for example. However, one seldom ever hears these terms used any more, and like Andy Rooney might have said, “it makes me wonder why.”

Here are a few possible answers:

1. Push media is so dominant that the push vs. pull dichotomy is no longer valid.

2. Pull media is so dominant that the push vs. pull dichotomy is no longer valid.

3. The line between push and pull media has blurred to the point of making the dichotomy meaningless.

I think that answer number three is correct, although arguments can be made for all three options. Push media is definitely as strong as ever. We’re hit with 24-7 cable news, hundreds of digital TV channels, satellite and internet radio. There are no shortages of choices of media waiting to ram themselves down your gullet if given the chance.

On the other hand, pull media, which I would say includes social media like Facebook and Google+, is even more pervasive. I would label these social networking sites “pull” because they require interactivity on the part of the participant.

But what I believe is really happening is that push and pull media have merged. One seeks to draw you into the other in a vicious cycle of online, continual connectivity. For example, television (push) encourages you to follow along with a TV show on Twitter (pull), while Twitter (pull) sends out reminders of when a TED talk is airing live (push…unless the TED talk allows for real-time audience interaction, in which case it’s pull).

The whole thing is a bit much if you ask me. We’ve long since entered an era of media overload. People ask, “Are you using Google+?” and the most common answer is, “Who has time for more social media?”

I sense a backlash against all this interactivity rising. Decision-makers don’t have time to surf your YouTube channel or follow your every tweet. Here comes the disclaimer: That’s not to say social media isn’t important, of course. But there is a real sense that, at least at the upper levels of decision-making within an organization, pull media like magazines, white papers, journals and websites are what people rely on to make solid business decisions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *