27 Apr 2010

"Dude, where's my 'traditional'?"

Last Friday, I was at a lively and hotly contested Quiz event. Eight teams, out of 175, had made it to the finals. Among them was one razor sharp 75-year old and several school kids with outstanding general knowledge. And there were questions that stumped them all.

But one moment struck me as particularly poignant.

It was the kids' turn, and an on-screen projection had two clues. Well, long story short, the kids got the right answer - but a photograph of Alfred Hitchcock, elicited this reaction from the school kids: "No clue who that is!"

I was incredulous, and scandalised at the same time! It dawned on me after a while - as it often does - that the world had simply moved on!

Today's generation has a different frame of reference from the one I have. I discovered Justin Bieber, the youtube sensation just a couple of weeks age. And I haven't the faintest clue who the latest 'Idol' is in Reality TV-dom. It's doesn't seem fair to expect a sixteen-year old to be as aware as I am of culture in the 80s!

So what other frame has shifted? What about media? Does it mean anything to the conflict between 'traditional media' and 'new media'? Does it mean that a sixteen-year old's 'traditional' is a thirty-something's 'new'?

Since advertising will go where the most people are... Since the 80s, ads have starting filling every second in between TV programming (and even getting into it). Now that we're on the Internet more often, it's obvious that advertising is bound to follow. That's probably why there's such feverish expectation around brands like Apple, Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare.

But everyone's especially on edge because no-one seems to have truly 'cracked an online formula' - if indeed, there is one!

In an unrelated (if you want to think so) piece of news from the Ad Age Agency Report 2010: "For the first time in the history of the Agency Report, the ranking's biggest agency is far removed from the clique and clack of Madison Avenue. The largest U.S. agency is Arkansas-based Acxiom, a major player in data-centric direct marketing and customer-relationship management."

And in still more unrelated (if you insist) news, 'digital specialty agencies' were the only ones to grow, albeit by a meagre 0.5%!

To me, the chart isn't important... It's still Yesterday vs. Today. What is important is the fact that WPP earned about 25% of its revenue from 'digital' in 2009, when no-one's really sure what really works online. And in 2009, the rest of the advertising industry recorded the sharpest revenue decline in history!

Something's definitely changed, don't you think?

(Oh, yes! One more thing... I'm going to try to never say:'Kids these days!' I figure, now I know better.)

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