Editorial: Adland cannot afford to ignore emerging media

As Richard Eyre says in the feature on internet protocol TV (page 24), anyone could be forgiven for dozing off when they hear yet more talk of convergence, or user-generated content, or the rise of digital media.

Almost every day seems to bring news of moves by advertisers and media owners, all scrambling to get a piece of this rapidly growing market.

But dozing off is the last thing you should be doing. While no-one really understands the full potential digital media has to change advertising, advertisers and agencies alike are at last beginning to realise that, like it or not, we are on the cusp of major change. This time, it's more than just hype.

Of course, we have faced change many times before and coped with it - 50 years ago, there were plenty of sceptics in radio who thought TV would never take off. Today, there is a similar attitude among many in the industry when they hear the words "digital marketing". But this is becoming less endemic among clients, more of whom are beginning to ask questions about - and even invest in - emerging media.

Holding company bosses, particularly WPP's Sir Martin Sorrell, have gone on the record to say the business needs to change drastically to take advantage of new media. Rupert Murdoch, meanwhile, is throwing his considerable financial clout behind the problem, snapping up websites such as MySpace for hundreds of millions of dollars.

But what does all this mean for agencies and advertisers? In an attempt to answer that question, this week's feature is the first in a series of six designed to take a good look at the technologies - from IPTV, to search marketing, to mobile and user-generated content - that look likely to have the biggest impact on the world of advertising and media.

Even the most sceptical would agree that some change is on the horizon. And those who understand what's driving that change are the ones most likely to come out on top.