Media Perspective: Soon internet giants will appreciate our industry's brilliance

One of the problems with writing a blog is the phenomenon I think of as "angry blogging": you're always on the look-out for things to write about, and there's little social pressure not to complain the whole time, so any little slight or contention becomes the trigger for a sustained and unpleasant rant.

It's why the blogosphere sometimes looks like a digital version of Is It Just Me Or Is Everything Shit?. And a similar thing occurs when you try to write a column. As you wonder how to fill your 460 words every week, you quickly realise that the easiest way out is to pick fault, poke holes and point fingers. Let's face it, no-one's going to run out of material pointing out the inadequacies of the advertising industry.

But it's starting to bore me, and, I imagine, you. Elementary child psychology tells us if we want behaviour to improve we don't point out failings and wag our fingers - we point out improvements and lavish lots of praise. And, if it's good enough for Dr Tanya Byron it's good enough for me. Because, for all the institutionalised stupidity in advertising, media and the related arts, we still support some extra-ordinary talents and some bewitching imaginations.

Even if I wanted to keep up the downer (as it were), recent headlines would force me to confront the continued potency of advertising. Google, for instance, has recently hired a bunch of top ad people and is starting to think seriously about how to tackle "display". Microsoft is so enamoured of the ad business that it has bought an agency of its own, done deals with ITV and bought a stake in Facebook: it is convinced that ads will be a significant revenue stream in its immediate future.

These are not stupid companies and they are thinking hard about advertising. Now, it's true that when Google and Microsoft talk advertising, they're not imagining brand enhancing 60-second TV commercials. They're thinking about functional, transactional, data-driven, click-based communications. But eventually, once every efficiency has been wrung from the web, they'll start to need those skills of imagination, craft and intuition that our funny little industry has so painstakingly acquired.

Because, although the venture capitalists and MBAs think of web advertising as one huge machine for the rational sorting of functional needs, we humble ad folk have learned something more alchemical: how to turn sparks of inspiration into economic drive. A serious overhaul of how advertising gets made is both necessary and inevitable, but there's a large and appealing baby in there that we shouldn't lose with all the bath water.

That's what I plan to think about in future columns (if Campaign will still have me).


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