Week 2: Interactivity – Connected via Connection

The realm of interactivity has been well documented, discussed and debated by academics, marketing experts, and the consumer for good reason. For when done well, interactive advertising can build richer, deeper engaging relationships (McStay 2010) and this to an extent explains the increasing amount of interactive brand initiatives, social advertisements and specialist agencies.

But what is interactivity? I like and tend to agree with Miller that ‘We all probably hear and use the word ‘interactivity’ hundreds, even thousands, of times. Yet the term has lost it’s freshness, it’s meaning.


“The facility for individuals and organizations to communicate directly with one another without regard to distance or time’

(Blattberg and Deighton 1991)

Miller (2008) develops this definition and breaks down interactivity into two, inter a prefix, meaning ‘between’, and implying a two-way exchange, a dialogue. The second part, active, means doing something, being involved or engaged and this is clearly expressed in comparison to Blattberg & Deighton’s solely communication based definition. So from these definitions we can see interactivity as an active relationship between two entities.

However despite my respect for these definitions, I particularly relate to Rafelia’s view of interactivity probably for it’s purity and applicability to the current social network orientated marketplace. Simple in concept, he deemed interactivity in essence as ‘conversational’ in nature. Personally for me a face-to-face interaction, a conversation is capable of providing a whole host of possibilities; support, laughter, compassion, productivity, and content.

It’s therefore fascinating to consider and experience the new interactive media facilitating the ‘two-way’ exchange. Providing for many the results of a physical interaction but virtually contained within ‘a computer mediated environment’, there is great potential for interaction without the inherent restraints global boundaries, time & spatial components inflict and this will only continue to increase with the advent of new technologies and mass global availability of internet connection.

I mention new interactive media, and it goes without saying this was categorically facilitated through the development of the Internet. Without dwelling on this area, I recommend my previous post for the discussion of the revolutionary role the internet plays in our daily lives but neatly;

We are all increasingly connected through our Internet connections; whether cable, wireless or mobile.

Part of the interconnectivity must be attributed to the rise of the continually hyped ‘2.0’, the predominant subject topic of my last post. I made particular reference, perhaps deliberately, to the notion of participatory web and borrow the graph used in our lectures this week to highlight the suitability of web 2.0, and interactivity. They are one in the same, interactivity, and participation because as Miller (2010) states there must be some form of ‘active engagement’, and 2.0 marked the shift from information sourcing to engagement.

Link between Participation & Interactivity

The conversation is central to the interactive experience as seen in this alarming representation of the dynamic range, and quantity of services and with this rise in interactivity there has been has been a shift in consumer power.

The Conversation within Social Media

I mentioned the UGC aspect in my previous post but Deighton and Kornfelt have established 5 paradigms effectively detailing the consequences of interactivity as; thought tracing, ubiquitous connectivity, property exchanges, social exchanges and cultural exchanges.

However, the shift in consumer power I believe can work to the advantage of the organization. With the proliferation and user acceptance of increasingly advanced 2.0 platforms brand managers & digital marketers can utilize the platforms to extend a campaign beyond the advertising.

Matt Freeman, CEO of Tribal DDB Worldwide (McStay 2010) describes digital media as allowing the consumer to become a part of the campaign.

“The most powerful new medium we have discovered is not digital, but rather consumers themselves.”

This means, the potential of interactive media and marketing strategies may rest at the feet of the consumer; engaged or uninterested. What makes a interactive campaign succeed, I suspect a mix of incentive, strong brand and above the line media campaign. However, this is new territory and with the advent of 2.0 a viral or snowball may be just as successful a launch platform for a new interactive website as a multi million dollar campaign.


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