MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE - A little investment in media today will bring rewards later

There was a time when you couldn’t move for media men jumping on to platforms to make bold predictions about the digital and interactive future - safe in the knowledge that in the crystal ball gazing game, everyone wins because nobody knows the truth.

There was a time when you couldn’t move for media men jumping on to

platforms to make bold predictions about the digital and interactive

future - safe in the knowledge that in the crystal ball gazing game,

everyone wins because nobody knows the truth.



Now that we have digital television and interactive advertising,

however, the future has arrived, the mists are clearing and the picture

is becoming a lot less confused. And it seems to be the advertisers

themselves who are hogging the new media agenda.



First at Barcelona, then at last week’s Incorporated Society of British

Advertisers’ annual policy conference, we heard from some eminent

advertisers about the imperatives of the new media age and the

advantages of taking action now. As has often been the case in the past,

for all the spiel agencies spin about advances in media, when it comes

to actually getting involved, it’s the advertisers who are often setting

the pace.



With advocates like Ian Milligan, the marketing director of Camelot, and

Patrick Burton, the vice-president of media and brand communication at

Allied Domecq, there is now a rallying cry for media agencies to help

clients explore the new opportunities afforded by technology. But it

will require a re-evaluation of the role of media.



The problem is that media has always been a business based on cost and

quantifiable return. With advertisers increasingly forced to justify the

existence of their marketing function to their finance director, the

idea of ’investing’ in new media opportunities without any tangible

payback is hard to brook.



For agencies, too, to invest in loss-making new media expertise is an

anathema when margins are so tight and investment so carefully

apportioned.



Yet there are significant gains to be made by those who act now. It may

be something of a new concept, but surely it’s time for a bit of R&D in

media. The arguments for spending a little time and money to learn about

the future landscape - and make mistakes while no-one’s watching - to

gather knowledge while your competitors languish in the dying embers of

the analogue age, seem obvious.



As Burton and Milligan pointed out at ISBA last week, those clients and

agencies with the greatest knowledge in the new media world will be more

in control of their own destiny. As Burton put it: ’In the land of the

blind, the one-eyed man is king.’



It’s time to step back from the view of media as an accountable cost and

make some investment in the future. We don’t need Mystic Meg to tell us

that it will be a long time before digital and interactive television

and the internet begin to really shift mainstream products.



But when you consider that this new interactive world will mean yet more

advertising clutter and audience fragmentation, choosing not to invest

now in finding ways to cut through is not just short-sighted - it’s

blind.



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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).