The media industry is just as susceptible to jargon as any other. An uncharitable person might suggest advertising sales relies on jargon and vague definitions.

But there are a few terms that we’d really like to see retired, if only so we don’t have to write lengthy explanations whenever we include them in one of our articles. So here, in no particular order, are the five terms we think the media industry needs to phase out. Let us know if we’ve missed any out, and stay vigilant – new nonsense terms are springing up all the time…

A quick note before we start, though. We know a lot of you will immediately be shouting “content!” at the screen. We’re not including it on this list, though, because while we agree it’s a blight on the face of media we haven’t heard any viable alternatives. 

Ad-blocker blocker

This phrase isn’t just clunky, it muddies the waters of a debate around consumer choice and how to monetise audiences. As we’ve argued on TMB, adblocking by users is in part the result of disregard for user needs. 

Even Bob Wootton, director of media and advertising at ISBA, argues the whole industry is gradually admitting fault:

“I think that we as an industry have made a right old hash of it and everyone in the industry that’s part of that value chain made a hash of it. The advertisers absolutely have something to do with it… [they’re been] too ready to commission material and they’ve had extremely compliant providers who have taken their money and produced this… some of it is unadulterated shit.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean that the business of adblocking is ethical and, as the panelists at AdWeek Europe pointed out, adblockers’ stated goal of improving digital ads would eventually put themselves out of business. The entire issue of adblocking is replete with nebulous terms, debates on morals and is just generally confusing.

That still doesn’t excuse the term ‘ad-blocker blocker’. We do need a term for the technology employed by outlets like City A.M., which don’t allow people using ad-blockers to view their content, but ideally one that isn’t so clunky.


By the extremely broad criteria we usually employ, it seems almost everyone is a Millenial. The two people who are credited with coming up with the term, Neil Howe and William Strauss, say that a Millennial is anyone born between 1982 and 2004. So, someone who was a few months old when the final episode of M*A*S*H aired and someone born after the construction of the Burj Khalifa are counted in the same group.

That ‘lumping in’ isn’t a new phenomenon – I’m sure Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have just as disparate habits and tastes. But no previous generation had the ability to hear how publishers and advertisers think about them, and it’s clear that assumptions about how Millennials behave are, at best, broad strokes.

This excellent article from friend of TMB Esther Kezia Harding makes plain how ridiculous a lot of those assumptions are:

“My favourite was from Hearst, who asserted that “Millennials just don’t shop in supermarkets any more”. If you’re under 30 and happen to see a Hearst employee in a supermarket, show them your shopping basket and point out that not only do you still have to eat, but that contrary to popular belief, we don’t live off take-away apps!

““Hearing a presenter declaring that all young people want to use is Snapchat was quite a shock” a fellow 25-year-old attendee stated. “To many in the audience it was humorous, but I’m sure that the few Millennials at DMS16 felt this to be, in some ways, a sign that there is a long way to go in understanding how young people consume news.” 


‘Digital’ as a media term is so omnipresent it’s become nonsense. By and large, if you work in a modern media organisation and have ‘digital’ in your job title, it’s a tautology.

Full disclosure – we run events called Digital Media Strategies. In this case, though, we’d argue it’s about branding. Yep.

Off platform

We asked five people what ‘off platform’ means and we got five different answers, running the gamut from ‘live events’ to ‘not publishing on Facebook or Snapchat’. 

The most widely-accepted definition is publishing on platforms other than your own website. But there are easier, clearer ways of saying just that. Additionally, the more serious point is that publishing to third-party platforms is looking increasingly like the inevitable future of many media organisations.

The third parties are how a lot of people experience the internet now, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon. As John Hermann points out for the New York Times…:

“Audiences drove the change, preferring to refresh their social feeds and apps instead of visiting website home pages. As social networks grew, visits to websites in some ways became unnecessary detours, leading to the weakened traffic numbers for news sites. Sales staffs at media companies struggled to explain to clients why they should buy ads for a fragmented audience rather than go to robust social networks instead.”

It’s been argued that Facebook needs publishers, as their content provides ‘stickiness’ that keeps audiences coming back. The truth, though, is that publishers need Facebook much more. Soon, everything could be ‘off-platform’.


Don’t get us wrong, we love VR here at TheMediaBriefing. We’ve written articles about how it can transform journalism, and we’re confident that it will eventually be a significant revenue generator for publishers (well, some of us are).

But there needs to be some clarity about what is and isn’t true VR. The New York Times, undeniably one of the pioneers in that space, is sending out even more Google Cardboard sets, a continuation of what we’ve argued is the best proof of concept for a new media product in recent memory.


The only issue is that people use ‘VR’ interchangeably with ‘360 video’, which is much more limited. It’s a little niggle, perhaps, and 360 video is still a fantastic and immersive product. But anyone who’s had a go on the Vive knows how absolutely immersive it can be, and endeavours like the Guardian’s 6×9 project should hopefully make that distinction.

What terms did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!