Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Electricity overtakes paper to be biggest benefactor of ad spend

In his wide-ranging opening article of 2012, the talentedGreg Grimmer manages to squeeze in the Pope, Fenton the dog, several energy companies, the Olympics, Lindsey Clay and a bit of grumpy old man...

Great news for npower and EDF this week as the plethora of advertising forecasts prevalent at this time of year all predict that media powered by electricity will be the key benefactors of the increases in total advertising expenditure in 2012. In other news, shares of battery-makers soared as battery powered devices continued their rise in popularity.

Apologies to all for my flippant start to the first column of 2012, but I - like most of you, I would guess - am bored senseless by the constant barrage of 'digital' media companies telling us that more advertising money will be spent on digital this year than last. No shit Sherlock - and the Pope will be crapping in the woods again this year.

The fact that I have been galvanised to pick on this subject matter so early in the New Year is not only due to the obfuscation of the real data when it comes to the release of ad forecasts but also the fact that the overwhelming amount of column inches (will this imperial phrase ever die?) devoted to the rise of digital can mislead the casual reader.

I recently met a multi-millionaire internet entrepreneur, who, on finding out that I worked in advertising, immediately started telling me with a huge amount of confidence how fucked ITV was.

When I pointed out that total TV advertising had increased in 2011, he looked at me as if I was a stupid village idiot, living in a stupid village without super-fast broadband, in a stupid pre-internet world.

On further investigation he turned out to be an IT/software entrepreneur and not an advertising/marketing services entrepreneur... this of course makes him far cleverer than any of us but also makes him about as relevant to comment on the state of the advertising industry as my friends at EDF and npower.

Contrary to this experience, I am often accused of being a propagandist for the digital economy - in no small part due to the fact that as both a columnist and a media practitioner you are called upon by interested parties (whether they are readers or clients) to talk about The New, The Fresh, The Anomalous.

No-one wants to sit in a meeting and talk about newspaper circulation trends (especially newspaper executives) or television share revenue but it seems everyone will spare time for the latest update on social media trends. Even this morning I have seen a questionnaire from my accountants on the subject, asking me why I don't interact with them more on social media channels. Have a guess guys - #life'stooshort!

However, despite both being required to and enjoying all things social, digital, 2.0 and the like, I will make a plea for all of us this year - not to over-hype the next big thing. Contrary to anything you might read over the next seven months, the London Olympics will not be the first Twitter/YouTube/Badoo Olympics - it will be the XXX Olympics with real physical activity by athletes, watched by potentially more real people at venues than ever before. The fact that they will universally have the ability to photograph, film and comment about the event is merely a side show.

We all have the duty of care to not exaggerate or indeed use our offspring to forecast future media trends (my media consumption aged 18 was almost exclusively based around reading night club and gig 'flyers' ) - I am sure today's teenagers will mature past exclusively BBMing their coterie.

I saw a very apposite tweet over the festive period by Graeme Wood, social media guru at Aegis, who tweeted about linear TV viewing: "The more research I see about DVRs and time-shifted viewing, the more I realise how utterly abnormal I, my family, and everyone I know is."

Very true my friend, very true. The much heralded 'second screen phenomenon' shows the continued weight and power of linear TV, although in regard to DVR viewing, Lindsey Clay's Thinkbox team might argue that you are looking at the wrong research. Whether it be theOlympics, The X Factor or Big Brother, we are still watching TV pretty much like we always have done.

The old adage of yesterday's newspapers being today's fish and chip paper may be outdated due to some health and safety regulations regarding packaging of fast food but the sentiment is as veracious today as always.

Perhaps we need an updated simile for the social media generation...

  • As stale as yesterday's status update?
  • As tedious as an hour old tweet?
  • As soporific as a previously shared video?

Which reminds me, did you know I was there with Fenton in Richmond Park? Oh Jesus Christ I've fallen into my own trap...

Read Greg's full article at MediaTel-