CAMPAIGN-I: Spotlight On: The internet revolution - The internet will force adland to revise traditional practices. Martin Sorrell outlines the opportunities he believes the net will bring agencies

Every day brings with it another story of millions won and lost on the stock market. Pages are devoted to the lastminute.com share price as if that was the important story. And yet anyone who equates dotcom share prices with the importance of the dotcom revolution fundamentally misunderstands what we are living through; the most important change in business practices and models since the industrial revolution.

Every day brings with it another story of millions won and lost on

the stock market. Pages are devoted to the lastminute.com share price as

if that was the important story. And yet anyone who equates dotcom share

prices with the importance of the dotcom revolution fundamentally

misunderstands what we are living through; the most important change in

business practices and models since the industrial revolution.



In some ways, the internet is accelerating trends that were already

present. Media fragmentation and the development of a greater number of

niche audiences has been going on for some time. So too has the emphasis

on relationship marketing and the tools and disciplines which have

enabled its development. In many ways the internet is an extension,

albeit a very powerful one, of relationship marketing and of the idea of

a two-way dialogue between companies and their customers.



Equally, however, the internet is not just more of the same. Look at

some of the things that are happening: the big three car manufacturers

collaborating to procure together; five million Japanese consumers

accessing the internet via their mobile phones; communities springing up

over the web influencing the practices of established companies and the

emergence of Amazon and others as brands as powerful as some

100-year-old companies.



Our industry is not and cannot be immune to these developments.



Along with other professional service companies, our people are

attracted by the idea of start-ups. It’s not just the lure of options

that attracts them but the idea of building a new company, of being

accountable, of making a difference. And so we need to make sure not

only that our compensation packages are attractive but that we develop a

structure in which good people can thrive. Along the way we probably

need to accept higher turnover rates and the need to manage

accordingly.



We need to pay more attention than ever before to technology. We cannot

afford to wait and see what develops. We need to help develop some of

the new applications. As wireless becomes the dominant way in which

people access the web in most markets outside the US, we need to be

experimenting and partnering with wireless players to develop new forms

of communication, new creative techniques, novel ways of exploiting the

ability to market location-specific offers. And it goes without saying

that we need to get creative people as excited about the possibilities

in broadband, wireless and digital TV as they are in analogue

television.



It’s not just technologists that we need more of, but marketing

consultants. Many of the issues that our clients are grappling with are

high-level strategic issues; how to go direct to their end-consumers

without upsetting existing sales channels? How the identity of their

spin-offs relates to their core business?



The good news is that marketing and branding are perceived by clients to

be more central to their development than at any time in the past.



But the flip-side is that we must be able to deliver.



Finally, we think about disintermediation in our clients’

businesses.



But we need to think about how to combat it in our own companies. Dozens

of media auction and media exchange businesses have sprung up - what is

the role of traditional media buying capabilities in that context? Now

that research can be done over the web in a fraction of the time and

cost, what needs to be done to the way in which research companies

structure and resource themselves?



Of course, there will be a traditional advertising business for some

time to come and it’s ironic that start-ups are devoting 90 per cent of

their marketing budgets to traditional media. But ambitious agencies who

want to prosper and retain a central role in the minds and hearts of

their clients must go beyond the ability to do 30-second ads for a new

client.



They must think about the way that they are structured and

resourced.



They need to co-operate with a much wider range of partners than

before.



Most of all, they need to think about the way that they recruit and

develop their employees in such a way that most of them have never done

before.



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).