The death of advertising, but only as we know it
A view from Danny Rogers

The death of advertising, but only as we know it

Advertising is under threat. Or, rather, the popular conception of advertising is under threat.

This week, Trevor Beattie announced "the death of the 30-second ad"; M&C Saatchi said its real revenue growth in 2012 had come from CRM and digital, not advertising; and Campaign’s Top 100 agencies table showed how many other shops are now relying on non-traditional techniques for meaningful profits growth.

Underlying all this is a fundamental shift in consumer behaviour. As Beattie noted, the attention span of the modern consumer is now just a few seconds, and we have a growing tendency to scan and discard non-stimulating content. This is compounded by our fast-evolving screen habits. New research shows that the world today spends more time watching mobile screens than computers, and, inevitably, the viewing of content on mobile devices will soon overtake that on static TV screens.

Advertising is flourishing. But if it is to regain past glories, it must form part of a digitally optimised approach

But we would be unwise to dismiss the traditional crafts. Yesterday, Thinkbox revealed detailed research proving the value of TV ads as part of an integrated marketing mix.

The Poetic report suggests that much-lauded earned-media (word of mouth) and owned-media (direct from brand) messages still rely heavily on traditional, paid-for media content. The report says the bulk of positive brand messages still take place offline and derive from TV ads.

Naturally, Thinkbox is biased, but I would agree that the output of ad agencies still underpins most great, multiplatform campaigns. Few other types of creative shop have the ability to provide the cut-through, emotional, uniquely engaging content that has so long been offered by traditional film craft.

That said, the smarter ad agencies are realising that TV campaigns are far from sufficient. First, many brands simply cannot afford them. And second, while Poetic shows that TV advertising underpins good corporate reputation, this can be a double-edged sword if strategic comms are ignored or if a company (think Barclays or BP) fails to live up to its promises, operationally.

Advertising is not dead. On the contrary, it flourishes in the UK’s world-class industry. But if it is to regain past glories, it has to form part of a digitally optimised approach and must be based on strong, consistent and truthful brand practice.      @dannyrogers2001