Online: Special Report

The internet is growing faster than TV or radio ever have, and will probably show no serious signs of slowing down for another two decades.

Online adspend grew 60 per cent last year, and the web now takes 4 per cent of the UK's advertising market. Yet Brits spend 20 per cent of our media time online (see this page). If online ad budgets keep growing at the current rate, the internet's ad share could match its audience share by about 2023, by my very rough calculations.

When that time comes, the agency world will probably look completely different. Could the internet become the bread and butter of what agencies do? Could the JWTs of this world have as many web designers and data analysts as they have creatives and planners?

If the ideas of Bob Greenberg, the founder of New York's R/GA, take root, they just might (see page 31).

R/GA started out as a film, video and computer-graphics production house in the 70s. In 1995, with 4,000 ads, 400 features and an Oscar nomination under his belt, Greenberg turned his back on film to launch an interactive ad agency.

It was no easy ride. A new team had to be hired as the existing crew were phased out. There were angry protests as the company model was rebuilt.

It took six years, a time Greenberg describes as "hard, painful, terrible".

R/GA now has 400 staff; much bigger than most traditional US agencies.

While its proposition of integrating creative and production is no longer revolutionary, it was the first agency to recognise that it had to rip it all out and start again.

"If agencies copy us, it's not going to help me, is it?" Greenberg says.

"But what I said would happen has happened. Everything is digitising. Broadband has arrived. More people are going to have to start listening to me."


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