Joe Talcott vs Joe Pollard: Is the internet a medium?

Joe Talcott News Limited’s group marketing director and AANA chairman, says he stands by his view that the internet is not a media platform, following remarks made by Ninesmsn CEO Joe Pollard disputing Talcott’s stance.  

Talcott made the comment during a panel discussion at a AANA conference on Friday and was published in the News Ltd-owned The Australian newspaper. He said: “The internet is not  a medium,” adding that it’s “a place where people do stuff”.

He argued that research measuring time spent online needs to exclude activities such as online shopping, banking, emailing and the use of social networking sites.

But in a blog post, Pollard promptly hit back, listing Roy Morgan and Nielsen statistics to support the stance that Australians are increasingly turning to the internet for general use and for media and entertainment purposes.

It includes Roy Morgan Single Source data which shows that in the 12 months to September last year the average weekly time spent on the internet increased 13 per cent, while time spent on traditional media fell – weekly time spent on TV declined 4 per cent, radio was down 5 per cent, newspapers  was down 6 per cent and magazines was similarly down 6 per cent.

She also pointed to Morgan Research which found that 23 per cent of Australian’s weekly media time is spent using the internet.

Pollard added that Nielsen data shows half of Australians’ time spent on the internet is on content sites including entertainment, news and lifestyle sites, while the other half of internet time is spent on activities such as social networking, communication, shopping, classifieds, banking and search.

And it is this other half of internet usage where Pollard and Talcott fundamentally disagree.

Pollard said in her post:

It’s hard to argue with such telling statistics! Online is most certainly a medium for consumers to be entertained and informed – it just happens to be interactive and the consumer is in control. If no one is “sitting down to watch the internet” then why are 11 million people consuming ninemsn’s short form video every month?”

Claiming the internet is not a medium because “it’s a place where people do stuff” presumably means advertising anywhere other than in infomercials, classified newspapers or the Super Bowl is fruitless? It’s the same as saying Out Of Home is not a viable advertising channel because people are really there to catch a bus. Come on!”

Talcott today hit back at Pollard’s post, telling Mumbrella that the total time spent online should not be compared with the total time spent watching TV, listening to the radio or reading a newspaper.

I don’t believe it is a valid comparison. To re-visit Joe Pollard’s analogy, that would be like outdoor advertising using total time spend out doors as their comparison to time spent on other media.

My ‘eyebrow raising remarks were not a criticism of the Internet, nor of digital media; I am incredibly bullish on both. And that is my point, that they are two different things. We do things on the Internet, including enjoying some superb digital media. But comparing the Internet (or the time spent on it) with other media undervalues the Internet and the profound impact it is having on communication, human interaction and life itself. It is much more than a media.”


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