LAST WEEK’S “Cracking the digital code” conference was a frightening experience for me. The fact that I was chairman of the event might make this surprising. I should have known what was coming. But a gathering of some of the country’s sharpest minds on the subject of online/ digital marketing brought home just how unstoppable the new medium is.
The speakers were charged with talking in plain language to intelligent laymen and to leave the audience with practical things they could take away. When they’re not hiding behind jargon, acronyms and technical gobbledegook their message is even more powerful. Those who fail to seize the day are toast.
The opportunities of the new media are so abundant and obvious – and so widely accessible – that you can no longer legitimately argue that online is irrelevant, a fad, or unsuited to a developing country. Yet there are such people around, still in denial about the new medium. They exist in ad agencies and some media companies, where embracing the new order involves abandoning a lifetime of training and experience.
They’re about to get a shock. Rather like the saddlers, bridlemakers and blacksmiths who clung to their outdated livelihoods after the automobile was invented, poohpoohing it as smelly, unreliable and noisy. “It won’t last,” they said. “It’s a fad.”
Overpopulated with people like that, ad agencies are in danger of being swept away by new young geeks. Because change doesn’t happen in an orderly, well-modulated way: it happens by new companies taking ownership of the new territory while the dinosaurs see out their final years clinging desperately to the old.