Digital Law Of Inertia


A recent client conversation was thought provoking. The discussion was about digital in terms of the law of inertia. If you have not thought about the digital space using physics, you are in for a treat.

Physics 101

The first law of motion states that objects at rest tend to stay at rest, unless an unbalanced force is applied to overcome this state of inertia. In the digital world, objects are the digital assets we create. Force takes several forms, including commenting, sharing and liking. Another force is the budget allocated to channels – the more money available, the more force can be applied to a channel.

Applying this law to digital growth

Let’s consider channels that can continue to create and engage, even when the initial force (posting or sharing) has stopped. Content (the object), whether that be videos, social media posts, articles, blogs or photos, can be repurposed, shared, commented on and searched, even years later. These channels need a lower level of force to overcome the inertia. And once in motion, these assets have the ability to stay in motion (and continue to engage).

Other channels, once the force is removed, go back to a state of inertia. Channels like pay-per-click (PPC) and Google Adwords work as long as a force (money) is kept on the channel. When the force is removed, the digital engagement stops and any lead generation and website traffic stop with it.

When forces are thin on the ground

Right now, the level of digital engagement is substantially up. With the shelter-in-place orders in effect, one way people can escape is by going into the digital world. The other force, marketing budget, has been dramatically reduced. It stands to reason that channels that use engagement force would be a great investment during this time.

What about when the budget force comes back?

My client asked me a final question. “When things get back to ‘normal’, should I start using PPC and Google Adwords?” My answer was, that depends.

With channels that use engagement force to overcome content inertia, each object (digital asset), once in motion, can stay in motion. Using both engagement and budget in channels can compound these forces to push digital assets to new audiences. The sum of these is more than the parts.

Even with budgets coming back, there may be a new normal of channel mix that considers this. How these digital channels adjust to new factors will determine their future viability.

Bet you never thought physics could help you solve a digital marketing problem. Welcome to the new world.