Is Media ‘Fragmented’ or Is Something Else Going On?
For many years the phrase “fragmentation of media” has been used to refer to the splitting of communications budgets across different media. An important part of this phrase is the assumption that the same total dollars are being spent on media (as best as I can tell, that is correct), and the main reason for the use of the phrase is that those dollars are being divided up differently than before. Perhaps you have heard it as the phrase “the changing media mix.”
Through these years, the phrase has made me uncomfortable, but I could never explain why; now I can. “Fragmentation” is a media victim’s word.
It reminded me of the old fairy tale about Humpty Dumpty falling and no one could put him back together again. Thank goodness for plastic flower pots: I’ve dropped clay ones, and I know they can’t be put back together very well. There are fragments all over the place and there is no way of finding all of them.
The words “fragmented” or “fragmentation” imply something that is not as originally intended, is broken, or is missing pieces. That is, there may have been a precipitating contrary event causing the fragmentation. There are only fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls remaining, inflicted by centuries of storage under harsh conditions. People spend years studying them and grappling with what is there and making educated conjecture about what might or might not be missing. Fragmentation is usually unintended. Dead Sea Scrolls scribes had no intent to produce fragments. Neither do media planners.
If it’s not fragmentation, what is it? It’s called media planning. If a medium is allocated less than was historically, that is referred to as fragmenting; the media that get more refer to it as a media shift. Fragmentation is how an outsider describes it, especially the media on the losing side. Fragmentation is a word for media allocation victims.