Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign and editor of Media Week
Arif Durrani, head of media at Campaign and editor of Media Week
A view from Arif Durrani

You're not normal, nor is the person you sit next to - and as for your boss...

You're not normal. It's something that is all too easy to forget - I do it myself on a regular basis. In a step-change from drinking and dining with media's finest, I was out with the "dads from school" last week.

These were real people, working in an array of jobs, from law to gardening and finance to the police. All of a similar age, the tail end of Generation X, living in north London but, you know, still cool, right?

Anyway, I was surprised by just how different their media habits were.

Out of our group of ten, all were at least casual readers of a particular newspaper, only four were on Twitter – chiefly to follow the lives of the rich and famous. Three did not have Facebook accounts, not even a dormant one. And as for Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat, forget it.

It was a sharp reminder of how all those national ad campaigns embedding a Twitter hashtag, or for brands following a purely digital strategy, still play to a specialist crowd. And this was inside the M25.

Thinkbox’s Ad Nation study, which uses nationwide Ipsos Mori data to compare the lives of those working in media and advertising with those in other fields, is even more striking. Among the gems unearthed is that 72 per cent of people working in advertising claim to have been on Twitter in the past three months, compared with only 17 per cent of the population at large.

'Out of our group of ten, only four were on Twitter. Three did not have Facebook accounts'

When it comes to technology, the study found that 72 per cent of adland already own a tablet, while nearly 100 per cent own a smartphone. Outside of the business, these figures fall to under 25 per cent and just 51 per cent respectively.  

Of course, the landscape is changing, and fast. Industry forecasts put the number of active UK Twitter users anywhere between ten million and 12 million this year, with the World Cup believed to have introduced hundreds of thousands of first-timers to the site.

Meanwhile, over at Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg outlined his ambition last autumn, when he admitted the social network was no longer about being cool, preferring instead the ubiquity of becoming more of a mundane utility, like electricity.

When it comes to the media business, the challenge has always been in embracing the new while remembering the strengths of the old. This was underlined once again this week, when one of the biggest winners of Brazil’s "first social World Cup" turned out to be none other than the broadcaster ITV.