Navigating the seas of "new" media
Nigel Hollis, 2006
The famous American writer Mark Twain is reported to have said, "The art of prophecy is very difficult, especially with respect to the future."
That is just as true today as it was in Twain's day, and that is what makes our jobs so challenging. Every day we make decisions that try to anticipate what will happen in the future. But our ability to do so is made more difficult by the vast sea of 'new' media options available, the plethora of conflicting points of view on their efficacy, and the tendency of media and vendors to hype the latest fad. The successful marketer is the one who can see through the hype and identify what is a real trend or change in the way the world works, and what is just wishful thinking.
Things are changing... everyone tells us so
"The Big Switch"
If you read the press today, or listen to some of my fellow practitioners, you would think that we are in the midst of a revolution.
At times like this various phrases take on a life of their own.
"The Big Switch" is one I heard recently, referring to the belief that consumers now have more control over the media that they consume and therefore avoid advertising more than they used to do. The pundits encourage us to move from interruption to engagement, suggesting that unless we engage consumers they will ignore what our advertising says.
Well, forgive me, but I think this is nothing new. The marketing community may have only just realized it, but consumers have been avoiding bad ads for years. Rather than skip ads using a DVR, people used to get up to make coffee, talk to the family or, worse still, simply fall asleep.
"Internet 2.0" is another great phrase. It implies that Internet 1.0 was a failure and that this new version, enabled by broadband, will be so much more successful than the first version. Hold onto your seats, because if marketers buy into version 2.0 with the same credulity that they did version 1.0 it is going to be a bumpy ride.
"Advertising's Third Phase"
And finally, "Advertising's Third Phase", the title of this Symposium, implies a dramatic shift in the way advertising is planned and executed. In particular, many pundits are suggesting that the way forward is to allow consumers to take control of brands, setting the agenda for them and developing their own advertising.
When faced with such phrases and a multitude of conflicting predictions about what will and will not happen we all need to sit back and examine the evidence at hand and decide for ourselves what the future holds.
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