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Alastair Duncan

For seismic shift in expenditure, read subtle shift in organisation

Posted by April 28, 2008
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At the moment there’s a trend in ad agencies to hire Chief Digital Officers to “explain this Web 2.0 thing, please.” Forrester, the research firm that specialises in the digital marketplace, even recommends it in a recent paper. “Traditional advertising agencies face significant technical difficulties. Clients are shifting business to digital shops, and consumers have turned away from media channels that built the agency industry and toward emerging Internet media. Ad agencies must build new interactive competencies quickly in order to succeed.” Therefore hiring a digital native will crack it. Hmm. Long powerpoint presentations about Web 2.0 have become the essential tool of such people. I’m not sure how many times you’ve actually seen this mindmap image – frequently perhaps, and rarely credited? So what? I think the time has come to talk a little more about the opportunities for ROI in marketing in the world of Web 2.0. Most websites, don’t forget, are still rather resolutely Web 1.0, especially the many microsites so beloved by ad agencies, despite the lonesome digital natives doing their best with the digitally naïve creative department.

I’m far more interested in the Forrester comment reflecting the change in consumer behaviour. The digital officers worth their grain of salt should also be talking about that. The internet is the serious medium of attention for the consumer. Just look at the number of insurance policies researched, reviewed, renewed and sold online. Or the number of holidays, cars, books, CDs, even chocolate bars, and sickness diagnoses make the frequency list. Last night, just before midnight, I ordered a rabbit hutch (don’t ask), a new CD player and a bunch of wiring (anyone with kids/rabbit will understand). That experience sums it up for me – convenient, simple, and a lingering household chore done. The concept of brand utility has become fashionable, but the concepts of usability and user experience still kind of stick, don’t they?

Small technical point about the big shift in Client budgets to digital – it isn’t always reflected in a big shift of fees to digital agencies and search represents a huge proportion. Still, there’s enough prediction that internet expenditure in the UK is soon to outstrip that of TV to challenge the complex agency supply chain to reorganise and restructure, as that’s not happening in quite the same timescale either.

But the basics of decent functionality solving my problem and brands online letting me take the brand experience where I want it are moving much faster than perhaps even we, the experts, realise.

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