“What is digital?”

He asked me, I stuttered.

“What do you mean?”

He repeated.

“What is digital? In outdoor we use digital screens, digital is but isn’t television and that is similar for radio. These are all above the line. I know it’s not above the line. It’s not really below the line marketing either is it?”

I took a sip of the coffee I shouldn’t have accepted at the beginning of the meeting. People moved on the other side of the glass like they were extras in a television show.

“What is it?”

I was at a loss. I’d never been asked before

I googled it. I got opinions but no real fact, no one can pin it enough for me to have an “A-ha” moment.

I’d always just worked in my digital silo, with my digital colleagues thinking and talking about, well digital. I never ever thought of it other than it being its own activity because it sits somewhere in between the above and below the line activities. We’d meet the above the line folk when they’d brief us, and the direct people sat somewhere in the same building, I imagine in the basement below the parking.

Obviously, it’s time for everyone to start working together. It was time 10 years ago when the big guys were purchasing digital agencies. Just about when management consulting firms were starting to become agencies themselves.

I guess the question is simple but the answer is not so tragically, difficult and riddled with problems. These problems that digital solves the same problems that existed with outdoor that needed direct to assist with and direct couldn’t speak to the audiences at the mass level the television did.

Digital spend is on the up but we’re not in Europe. Smartphone penetration is rising but poverty is a problem and if you know what’s going on with the price of data let me know. Digital could very well be the ally outdoor needs but the enemy television and radio can’t bear to think about unless they evolve.

We know now for sure that digital is no longer the plug-in to the overarching strategy but rather the spear-head and digital doesn’t need television or radio as much as it needs the good old billboard because they both do a similar job in a different space. Reach and repetition. Digital can then just manage the conversation.

Like that argument winning answer, you have in the shower three hours later. The answer is pretty simple. Digital isn’t one thing or the other but a necessary part of the evolution of everything.