A New Words Resolution

There were a number of words and phrases that infected media during 2011. Some made people feel queasy about the state of the industry, while others left people confused about what we actually do for a living. Here are some of the words that we should quarantine immediately:

Dead. This year everything from television, apps and the Web itself was declared “dead” by various industry commentators. If history is any guide, though, the technology of today will be with us far longer than we expect.

Disrupt. It became fashionable this year to claim a new technology would disrupt or destroy some existing one. For 2012, let’s resolve to simply make the things that already exist a little better.

Agnostic. Mark Naples of WIT Strategy points out that saying something is “platform-agnostic” actually implies that the technology doesn’t work with anything.

Bifurcated. I first heard the word “bifurcated” spoken a few years ago by Rob Norman, CEO of GroupM North America, and it sounded really smart. Fast-forward to today, and this four-syllable word is now all the rage across media. Let’s agree to leave the fancy words to the CEOs.

Cloud-based. “The cloud” sounds so much better than “a bunch of servers housed in a big building that we don’t own” — which is probably why most companies use the former to describe the technology.

Amazing. Detecting earth-like planets 600 million light years away is truly amazing, but at this point there’s little that’s amazing about a new mobile phone, ad platform or consumer app. Cool, maybe, but not amazing.

Leverage. Writer Brian Morrissey says he’s tired of hearing the word “leverage” used as a verb — as in, “our company leverages amazing, cloud-based technology that disrupts markets.”

Chunky. Industry vet Sean Finnegan notes that the word “chunky” is on the rise. The term is used to describe a difficult problem, but given that “Chunky” is already the name of a soup and a candy bar, we should stop this new application immediately.

Sports jargon: If you spend time in the testosterone-filled boardrooms of venture capitalists, you know that these firms speak in an endless stream of sports metaphors. “Hitting a home run” means building a business that makes everyone gobs of money. “Skating to where the puck is going,” describes a business that isn’t making any money yet — but hopefully will someday.

Pivot. Another popular venture capitalist word, a “pivot” can mean that a startup has discovered a better way to make money, but it can also mean that their first (and sometimes second) business idea was really stupid.

Tradigital. Mashable’s Lauren Rubin has had enough with mashing the words “traditional” and “digital” together to form “tradigital” — and who can blame her? For evidence, here’s an excerpt from an actual piece that Adweek published on the topic: “What excites me most about the future of marketing? That’s easy: tradigital. Not just because I enjoy the crafty nature of neologism, but because I’m captivated by the artful venture of respecting traditional branding ideas in the face of a new digital reality. It’s what a whole new breed of tradigital agencies is all about.”

Acronyms. Seasoned entrepreneur Dave Morgan noted that the media industry has become awash in acronyms — to the point where it is now difficult to understand what anyone is saying. Using terms like DSPs, RTB or ATDs needs to stop, ASAP.

Proxy. Dylan Parks of is tired of hearing the word “proxy.” I’ll take that as a sign that everyone else has, too.

At the end of the day. Most Brits working in media — as well as a number of Americans — feel compelled to use the phrase “at the end of the day” at every opportunity. Ultimately, though, we all need to find a better way of making a point.

Those are some of the words that media people were sick of hearing this year. What are yours?

  • Georgestraz

    Amazing article Matt! A home run! Using your leverage to make all these outdated terms dead is a great intitiative. Hopefully this will make all these useless, annoying terms DOA and ASAP. They make me want to bifurcate when I hear any of them. At the end of the day words are very important and should never be a part of out tradigital lexicon.

    • Georgestraz

      ….should have been “our” tradigital lexicon. (got so worked up over the subject, my line of thought was disrupted)

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