How the medium affects the message

Date of publication: June 15, 1990


The purpose of this paper is to show how accounting for the most recent developments in such a qualitative subject as semiology can profoundly alter the patterns of a quantitative discipline such as media planning. Media planning today is founded on communication models derived from that of Shannon and Weaver, i.e. models which prohibit our accounting for the influence of the actual medium on message perception. Thus, in print media, the evaluation of various magazines is made in terms of target readers, i.e. readers belonging to the relevant target group. Without wishing to appropriate Mc Luhan's deliberately provocative formula of "the medium is the message", we simply wish to explain here why, when talking to the same population, the same message will be more, or less, effective according to the title in which it appears. Because for one and the same product, and with an identical target audience, the impact of the same advertisement can plummet by almost 40 % according to the title which carries the advertisement. In other words, accounting for the medium's specific input influencing the efficacy of the message appears to be just as important (at least) as the breakdown of readers!

  • PDF
  • This could also be of interest