Does anyone still pay attention to ads and commercials?

Part 2: One solution--don't change too much too soon.

The linear, sequential, one-way mass communication that had been the norm since Hammurabi had his 280 edicts carved in stone for all of Babylon to see 3,768 years ago is now, like Hammurabi, history.At some point in the 1980s the mass communications paradigm began to change fundamentally, and the pace of change has accelerated exponentially ever since. Communications are now multi-faceted, simultaneous and universal. And constantly getting more so.

Last week's article outlined some of the factors driving the new communications environment: massive media proliferation, message mega-proliferation, media multi-tasking, multi-message media, multi-media media and audiences' mini attention spans.

Several hundred channels of TV, millions of web sites, mobile media, spam, outdoor that blinks out a new message every ten seconds, 47 radio formats, interactive point-of-purchase displays, 19,532 magazines, search, newspaper and many, many more bombard a typical American with 5,000 marketing communications messages every day.

Media multitasking has become the norm. People watch TV while surfing the web or read magazines while listening to radio. There are multiple messages on one screen. And links between TV and cell phones and web sites.

The leisurely three seconds during which advertisers could capture the audience's attention at the beginning of a commercial has been cut in half. And that second-and-a-half is an incredibly luxury of time compared to the nanosecond we get to hook searchers and visitors online.

All the change – and the ever-faster rate of change – make this one of the most interesting times in the entire history of marketing. And although the ancient Chinese supposedly considered "May you live in interesting times," a curse, marketers should consider it a benediction. Because interesting times give nimble, aggressive marketers a tremendous opportunity to take advantage of change.

So where do you start? A Goldilocks strategy. Don't change too much too soon. And don't change too little too late. And you'll get marketing to today's mini attention spans just right. This week's posting covers the first half of the equation: don't change too much too soon.

It's great to be an early adopter. Companies that get involved with new media early have a head start if and when those new media go mainstream.

But "involved" doesn't mean betting the farm. New media build buzz long before they build business. Marketers who jettison tried-and-proven media which are still effective risk losing the customers the old media bring in before the glamorous new media can generate a substantial customer base.

We have examples. See them at