Guess who is winning in the advertising arena?

Written by on July 6, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Change differentWe might think that the communications arena is changing fast. We might think that banking is undergoing the biggest disruption in its existence. We might wonder at the sheer scale of connections being brought to us by the IoT. And we might question our sanity as the world changes faster than we can make sense of it. Spare a thought, then, for the wonderful world of advertising.

Advertising, like the other arenas is undergoing a full-blown revolution. And the winners in this new world are the digital demi-Gods such as Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, Instagram and SnapChat.

Advertising, like telecoms and banking used to run to a stable tune. You won a client. You came up with a campaign. Creative people went into darkened rooms. Creative people came out of darkened rooms clutching storyboards describing their ideas. These ideas were rejected by the client. The creative people cried, then went back into darkened rooms. A little later they came back out with the same storyboards but with the client’s logo twice the size. These fresh new ideas were accepted by the client. The campaign was set up to run on television and in the papers. The directors took the clients out for a three hour lunch.

The channels were stable and everyone knew what they were doing.

Then came the internet and the digital world and, like telecoms and banking, the players thought that nothing much would change and simply started placing adverts that worked on paper or on TV onto digital channels.

About this time Mr Zuckerberg was born.

During his lifetime, the digital advertising arena has grown from nothing to a $145 billion a year market. Internet advertising is, according to eMarketer, expected to grow at 15 percent a year for the next few years and will overtake TV advertising in around 2020. It is surprising that it will take so long – does anyone watch ‘live’ TV any more?

It has also changed out of all proportion and is an entirely different world. The practice of putting an advert that worked in one medium onto another has all but vanished. Advertising is now completely interactive, completely accountable and becoming personalised at an astonishing rate – but in a rather hit and miss way.

Facebook is investing hugely in ‘crowd sourced’ interactive video advertising. It should, it now has four billion video ‘views’ a day. Instagram is investing in ‘action-orientated’ video. Meanwhile, probably the most flexible CEO ever, Martin Sorrell, has teamed up with the Daily Mail and SnapChat to launch a content agency (that does all the above for brands), called Truffle Pig. The less flexible Microsoft, however, is bailing out.

All of these initiatives are aimed at the mobile device. Truly ‘immersive’ personalised videos are the goal and a lot of money is being thrown around to try and achieve it. Facebook, the frontrunner, took in $3.3 billion in advertising in the first quarter of 2015.

What is interesting is that the disruptors of our generation – Zuckerberg, Bezo and whoever is at top at Google at the moment are built differently to previous generations. Older generations rather liked their stability, jobs for life and a nice cup of tea. The disruptors, having disrupted, do not rest on their laurels, they wonder what to disrupt next, and how.

Zuckerberg, for instance, seriously sees the day when we can post stories, thoughts and, yes, interactive and rich videos through telepathy. He believes it is the future of media and journalism. It is easy to be cynical, but in this world, we might regret the instinct in just a few years’ time.

The other thing that is different about these disruptors is their ‘fail fast’ attitude. Once they have failed, in their eyes ‘tested’ an idea, they build from the lessons (watch for the next iteration of Google Glass). The establishment should not fear this attitude, but they should copy it and adopt it.

We should, in fact, edit a now hackneyed and slightly creepy expression that has been around for a while and get some posters made up.

They should read: “What would Google do?”

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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