Advertising industry is in denial

Advertising industry is in denial
Kathy Sharpe, owner of Sharpe Partners in New York, makes that proclamation in a guest commentary in today’s MediaDailyNews. I think this is MUST-reading for anybody interested in the unmistakable changes we’re currently experiencing in the media world today.

For us, the industry dubbed the “Myth Makers” actually has depended on some very complex and intricate myths as we have built our multi-billion-dollar myth-making industry.

Did Nielsen ever offer more than a gross proxy for the real television audience? No, but that was okay, as long as that stand-in was big and growing (and the one with the most buying power). Were media planners ever blind to the implications of magazines inflating circulation numbers with cheap subscription drives? Even in the days of the two-martini lunch, everyone knew that the value of the impression had to decline. It’s just that nobody much cared to do anything about it. Certainly, nobody from the agencies would; and even advertisers blithely ignored it because there was no alternative to TV other than print. Those four-color spreads were so beautiful.

The naked truth is that the foundation is not cracking–it was simply never there. It was just a series of shared beliefs, like a religion, or a culture. And, yeah, there was a basis for it–a methodology, even a rationale. But it wasn’t reality.

This is a stunningly accurate assessment of what is partially producing unspoken, “sky is falling” tremors in the media world. The beginning of the way out of the hole is to stop digging! Ms. Sharpe goes on to encourage her friends and colleagues to stop cowering (or fighting) and embrace the new technology of the Internet.

Advertising and marketing are changing. Pundits will call for change management–a wonderful oxymoron–because change by its nature can’t be managed. It happens, we manage to succeed through it.

So once everyone–or most of us–are out of denial, we should once again let the consumer lead us to the promised land. They did it with TV, and they are doing it again. Consumers today are leading us right over there: to the computer, to the Internet, to TiVo, to the future. Let’s go!

To which I add a hearty “Amen!”

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