It’s not news that the past decade has seen some of the biggest technological shifts since the invention of the printing press. The way people can now communicate with each other, and the way businesses can communicate with customers, was not that long ago the stuff of science fiction.
If you listen to the industry’s digital acolytes this has signalled a paradigm shift of apocalyptic proportions for ‘traditional’ advertising. At the forefront of this is the ‘television is dead’ position popularised - with an obvious degree of self-interest - by various new-to-world digital agencies. To different degrees established advertising agencies have joined the chorus, either not wanting to be seen as cavemen or wanting to recoup their investment in newly acquired digital capabilities.
Marketers, particularly in Australia, have been a bit more circumspect about going along for the ride. But you would be hard pressed to find a brand that hasn’t at least dabbled with social media. And, of course, what career conscious marketer isn’t lured by the need to have ‘digital’ on their CV?
Ironically, all of this may have led to a rampant case of herd behaviour within the microcosm of the marketing and advertising community.
In comparison, counter-point perspectives have had a much smaller voice. The ‘emperor has no clothes’ arguments have come largely from a few of advertising’s elder statesmen and academics. These commenters tend to see the digital revolution much like the dot com boom of the 1990s; full of unfounded optimism and unproven potential. Where the fundamental principles of how people relate to brands are ignored. And where the engagement of the few doesn’t even come close to having the same impact as the semi-partial attention of the many.
If accepting that the case for a new communications paradigm isn’t as clear cut as it seems, then agencies and clients need a more reasoned approach to developing digital initiatives. An approach where agencies detail up front what proposed ideas are realistically expected to achieve. And where the basic thinking about an audience around and beyond their digital interactions is always done. More on this in the third post of this series.
The next post will outline a rare counter-argument to the digital revolution from the agency side by one of the UK’s leading agencies.
Glenn Myatt, Strategy Director