How Powerful is Digital Media Consumption?

In 1964 Marshall McLuhan published a book called ‘Understanding Media’. This book stated that modern electronic communications would alter how we experience the world, and he was right. Social media connects people with influential figures such as celebrities from around the globe, who they would have very little access to otherwise. Not only does the consumption of digital media connect people, it influences people. Celebrities are hugely persuasive, and stars such as Leonardo Di Caprio using his Oscar winning speech to tackle climate change can have a huge impact on how we experience the world, particularly through digital media – just like McLuhan predicted.

Digital Marketing isn’t all about technology, it’s about people (marketers) connecting with other people (consumers) to build relationships and ultimately drive sales. Technology just provides the marketer with new platforms that allow them to connect with other people in diverse and relevant ways. Understanding people is the real key to unlocking the potential of digital marketing.

Customers are now the creators and contributors of the marketing communication, not just passive targets. Digital marketing begins with the customer, and identifying their wants and needs can be identified using Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs.

Research History (2012)

The introduction of inbound marketing, which encourages two-way communication, has enabled sports organisations to fulfil people’s wants and needs far more effectively than they could do when the technology wasn’t available to them. For example, sports fans can receive the information and content they want, whenever they want by following their favourite team on social media. This has been developed further with firstly the introduction of Snapchat, providing video messages to fans, and now live streams on Facebook and Twitter working with organisations such as Periscope to provide an exclusive insight to a sports club.

Another example, which Sky have excelled in is anytime TV anywhere. SkyGo gives consumers more control and enables them to satisfy their wants wherever they are.

Digital Media has become so strong that it is often adapted to manipulate how we think. The photo below illustrates ways in which this is done, and provides evidence as to why we shouldn’t accept everything as black and white.

Nordstrom (2016)

The Two Step Flow Theory by Katz and Lazarsfeld (1944) states that media moves in two distinct phases, firstly from mass media to opinion leaders, then from opinion leaders to other people. In the photo above, the opinion leader is the media organisation reporting on the incident who have clearly twisted a story to influence the audience’s attitudes and behaviours.

When there is intervention between the intended media message and the audience’s reaction it is called personal influence – this has helped explain why some media campaigns fail to alter audience’s attitudes and behaviours.The Two Step Flow Theory has developed our understanding of how mass media influences decision making because the ability to predict the responses to media messages has been refined.


Will Wood, Leeds Beckett University, Sport Marketing Student


BBC (2016) BBC arts – massage received: From McLuhan to the digital age. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 27 April 2016].

Nordstrom (2016) Inspiración / inspiration. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 April 2016].

Research History (2012) Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 21 April 2016].

Stolworthy, J. (2016) Leonardo DiCaprio tackles climate change in Oscars acceptance speech, doesn’t mention how long he waited to win. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 27 April 2016].

University of Twente (2009) Two step flow theory. [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 24 April 2016].


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