Editorial: Brave new world offers a series of fresh challenges

With the end in sight, how best to sum up the testing year of 2006 for the marketing communications industry?

It was a period of contradictions; a time when the technology enabling the delivery of the marketing message grew more complex and sophisticated, but the need to keep the message emotive and simple was never more important.

It was a time when major corporations probably knew more about how consumers think and act than ever before. But it was also a time when the online medium began allowing consumers to shape the destiny of brands in a way that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.

With the benefit of hindsight, it may be that 2006 will turn out to have been a pivotal time. The analogue switch-off began, and convergence - the seamless delivery of TV, music and the internet - showed signs of becoming a reality.

There has been a good deal of scepticism over convergence. When the dotcom bubble burst, the term was ridiculed. The technology was found to be below par and the financial structures of the companies pushing it were often highly suspect. This year, convergence showed signs of being built on a firmer basis - the cost of the technology fell and network and content providers showed willingness to work together.

The prospect of this bright technological dawn presents a new set of challenges for clients and their agencies.

Not least because the new technology has the capability to transport advertisers beyond their comfort zones and into areas where the usual rules of engagement don't apply.

Among them are the social networking sites built by consumers, and where advertisers are uninvited guests. Unless they prove to be entertaining company and resist the temptation to overtly sell, they'll be shown the door.

The same holds true for mobile marketing. Again, the potential is huge for advertisers who can get it right.

The good news is that innovative and creative thought, capable of transcending any technological platform, will be valued as never before. Happy New Year.


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